Morning business news - January 29

Tuesday 29 January 2013 10.37
Morning business news with Conor Brophy
Morning business news with Conor Brophy

GRASSOMETER SECURES €1.25M IN FUNDING - Watching grass grow does not necessarily sound like the most promising way to spend your time or to make money. But it forms the basis for a start-up business that has just secured €1.25m in new funding. Monford Ag Systems is the company and Grassometer is its product.

Explaining how the company came about, Monford Ag Systems' chief executive Steve Lock says he had trained as a television producer and made programmes about farming. While out filming around farms, he noticed that farmers were always worried about their grass growth and struggled with the maths and algorithms in how to measure that growth. After a meeting with Trinity College's John Whelan he decided to develop an app for farmers to measure grass growth. The idea secured funding, including an investment from the Competitive Start Fund, and all of a sudden they had a product that farmers wanted. Mr Lock says that the most important asset for farmers is what they grow - and grass is the cheapest and best feed for their animals. If farmers grow more grass, their profits will also grow he states.

Mr Lock says he always knew that he would need a good team around him. His investors include Bank of Ireland's Kernel Capital Enterprise Ireland, Glanbia and the the country's biggest dairy farmer Tom Browne. A group of New Zealand's investors are also involved, including that country's former trade minister.

Jerry Manock is also involved in Monford Ag Systems. He is the designer of the original Apple Mac and joined Apple when the company employed just five people. He took his payment from Apple in shares and admits that he is ''quite pleased'' with the way he was treated. Mr Manock says he came on board to move Monford's proof of concept model to a real product to help farmers better manage their assets. He has now moved the product from one which just measures grass to a model which measures of kinds of parameters that a farmer wants to know about.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Six companies investing in Ireland from the US and Europe are promising 147 new jobs for Dublin and Cork. The investments, supported by IDA Ireland come from a range of small, fast growing firms including Etsy, an online marketplace for vintage and used items, and 10Gen the database developer that is establishing its European headquarters in Dublin.

*** Food group Greencore, Europe's largest maker of pre-packed sandwiches and a major player in chilled food products, has said that its main market - the UK - is showing little or no growth in sales volumes overall. An interim management statement ahead of Greencore's annual general meeting of shareholders later this morning tells us Greencore's revenues in the UK - excluding the impact of acquisitions and disposals - were flat. But there was better news for the company from the US where it has doubled revenues over the past year - partly due to two companies it has bought - but where it is also experiencing double digit revenue growth outside of those acquisitions.

*** Internet search and advertising player Yahoo reported higher quarterly advertising sales, $1.2 billion, than had been expected and a higher profit for the final three months of 2012. However Yahoo's share of the US online display ad market fell from 11% to 9.3% last year. It is projected to fall to 8% this year.

*** Advertisers have paid a record $3.8m on average for 30 second advertisements during this Sunday's Super Bowl. Aside from being the climax to the American Football season the game, which this year takes place in New Orleans, is renowned as a showcase for brands and advertising agencies. Famously in 1984 a television ad at halftime in the game between the Los Angeles Raiders and the Washington Redskins effectively put Apple Computers on the map.