2020 was the most uncertain year we have been in business. It was filled with new challenges across nearly all areas of our operation, and in some cases forced us to make tough decisions. From turnover within the company, to pandemic-induced manufacturing delays, to cancelling new products, there has been no shortage of adversity.
And yet, through all of this, we have come to find new strengths. From focusing our hardware offering, to doubling down on owning our software and documentation stacks, to prioritizing testing and stability, to shipping a record number of FarmBots, we have accomplished more in the last 12 months than perhaps in any other year.
Looking back at the ups and downs, I am proud of our accomplishments, humbled by the hardships, and excited by the path ahead. Here we come, 2021!
– Rory Aronson, CEO of FarmBot Inc
January 29, 2020 — Rush shipped an early 20 FarmBot Express and Express XL v1.0 units to customers.
February 11, 2020 — Began shipping FarmBot Genesis and Genesis XL v1.5 kits to customers.
February 18, 2020 — Published updated documentation for FarmBot Genesis v1.5.
February 20, 2020 — Consolidated the Tools page of the app into a new tools panel alongside the farm designer.
March 4, 2020 — Made the FarmBot Genesis v1.5 CAD models publicly available , with models for standard, XL, and MAX variants.
March 17, 2020 — Added support for gantry-mounted locations to the MOVE TO command.
April, 2020 — Sold out of FarmBot Genesis v1.5 and began accepting pre-orders for a second production run.
April 13, 2020 — Released filter-based groups to the FarmBot web app and FarmBot OS, a major feature milestone for FarmBot’s core capabilities.
April 16, 2020 — Sponsored a senior design team at Liberty University to design and prototype a weed trimmer tool for FarmBot Genesis.
April 29, 2020 — Wrote new software how-to guides for accomplishing common tasks with FarmBot.
May 12, 2020 — Began shipping FarmBot Express and Express XL v1.0 kits from inventory.
May 18, 2020 — Cancelled the sale, production, and delivery of FarmBot Express MAX v1.0 and Genesis MAX v1.5 due to poor sales during the 6 months since launch.
May 19, 2020 — Released a new MARK AS command allowing the sequence step to accept location variables, modify new fields, and support
June 12, 2020 — Consolidated the Device page of the app into a new settings panel alongside the farm designer.
June 18, 2020 — Added anchor links to all settings to aid in providing support and improve the docs.
June 24, 2020 — Consolidated the Photos and Farmware pages of the app into new panels alongside the farm designer. Also added new sequence commands for 1st party farmware, and a hexagonal grid planting function.
June 26, 2020 — Consolidated the Controls and Sensors pages of the app into new panels alongside the farm designer.
July 8, 2020 — Improved the speed of photo taking, added support for cropping images in the frontend, and added a camera field of view visualization to the farm designer, all to improve garden scanning.
July 9, 2020 — FarmBot was featured in Collaborative Robots Are Taking Our Jobs, But It Might Be a Good Thing.
July 14, 2020 — Released stall detection support for the FarmBot Express platform as well as motor load indicators, improvements to the weeding workflow, and new photo filtering options.
July 23, 2020 — Published FarmBot in Education - Inspiring the Next Generation of Farmers.
July 27, 2020 — Released a simplified method for calibrating FarmBot’s camera.
August, 2020 — Began a second production run of 127 Genesis and 73 Genesis XL v1.5 kits.
August 19, 2020 — Released a new, supercharged MOVE command supporting formulas, axis overrides, variance, and safe Z operation.
August 25, 2020 — Completed consolidation of all major app pages into a panel experience alongside the farm designer.
September 17, 2020 — Added a fullscreen image viewer, raw celeryscript viewer, and camera animations.
September 18, 2020 — Released FarmBot OS v12, marking the transition of our releases and over-the-air update system from a 3rd-party solution to an in-house solution.
October 2, 2020 — Added SAFE HEIGHT and SOIL HEIGHT settings and support for selecting them in the MOVE command. Also split Z-axis speed settings for finer tuning when moving up vs down.
November 18, 2020 — Launched all-new documentation hubs , removing our dependence on a proprietary 3rd-party vendor. Included is a new splash page at docs.farm.bot, dark mode, automated link testing, improved page metrics, and public access to source files .
December 4, 2020 — Began shipping the second production run of FarmBot Genesis and Genesis XL v1.5 kits to customers.
December 7, 2020 — Added a profile viewer to the web app.
Despite a global downturn due to the pandemic, 2020 brought us 16% growth in revenue over 2019, making this our biggest year ever:
|Product||2019* Revenue||2020* Revenue||% of 2020* Total|
|Express XL v1.0||$177,037||$100,181||8.0%|
|Genesis XL v1.4||$88,646||-||-|
|Genesis XL v1.5||$225,285||$535,133||42.6%|
* From January 1st to December 22nd, includes refunds for orders placed in prior years. See impact of the pandemic for more info.
We shipped more FarmBots during 2020* than in any other year:
|Product||Quantity Shipped||% of Total|
|Express XL v1.0||153||21.4%|
|Genesis XL v1.5||199||27.8%|
* From January 1st to December 22nd
Strong numbers here can be attributed to three factors:
- Year over year increase in sales of Genesis and Genesis XL.
- The addition of FarmBot Express and Express XL to our lineup.
- Two production runs were finished in 2020, with the first run having started in 2019 and encompassing the Express pre-order launch campaign.
The following table breaks down our FarmBot sales into three main market segments based on end-use of the machine: Education, Personal, and B2B.
The Education segment includes K-12 schools, universities, and extracurricular educational programs such as 4H and robotics clubs. The Personal segment includes homeowners, families, and DIY enthusiasts who use FarmBot non-commercially. B2B includes family farms, research facilities, farm-to-fork restaurants, and other entities that are not in the business of education.
|Segment||FarmBot||Quantity||Revenue||% of Total|
|Express XL v1.0||12||$24,371||1.9%|
|Genesis XL v1.5||53||$235,723||18.4%|
|Express XL v1.0||60||$113,081||8.8%|
|Genesis XL v1.5||49||$197,706||15.4%|
|Express XL v1.0||15||$28,075||2.2%|
|Genesis XL v1.5||21||$92,513||7.2%|
We began feeling the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak before it had gone worldwide. With our manufacturing partner based out of China, the first production run of our Express and Express XL v1.0 kits was delayed by approximately 3 months due to strict lockdowns.
By the time the manufacturing was completed and the kits were in our warehouse (May 12th), the virus had spread across the world imposing widespread school shutdowns, job losses, and uncertainty.
Between January 1st and May 12th, we received an unprecedented number of cancellation requests for delayed Express and Express XL orders - 56 in total, amounting to over $100k in lost revenue. Because refunds were for orders that were placed in 2019 were processed in 2020, sales figures for 2020 for the Express product line are substantially lower, while sales for 2019 are equally inflated on the order of $100k. Had we not experienced the manufacturing delay, we likely would have avoided most of these cancellations and seen much higher 2020 revenue and shipments for these kits.
Beyond the obvious cause and effect of the manufacturing delay, it is unclear how else the pandemic has affected our sales. On one hand, consumers are looking for ways to be more self sufficient and schools are adopting teaching tools that can be used for distance learning. On the other hand, financial uncertainty has dropped consumer spending and school closures have required educators to focus on making ends meet rather than developing new ways of teaching.