Notes from the Barn: 5 Tips Every Agtech Entrepreneur Should Know

December 29, 2015

5:00 pm

Investors have significantly increased their bets on agriculture technology companies in 2015. According to AgFunder’s Midyear AgTech Investing Report, a whopping $2.06 billion was invested into the sector across 228 deals involving 280 unique investors in the first half of 2015, compared to $2.4 billion in all of 2014.

Here are five components that can aid any young enterprise honing in on the rapidly growing agtech market.

Think Simple from the Start

“Our life is frittered away by detail.” Henry David Thoreau makes a terrific observation on the complexity of life that is still true. But there’s a way out: “simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.” The truth is, failure is a natural part of the business cycle. Yet, contrary to the popular belief, failure is often not due to poor ideas. The single biggest lesson we’ve learned along our way is that the simplicity is often at the heart of the solution.

Consider: It would take 159817 years for all the farmers in the world to sell all of the cows residing within their farms, assuming that each animal could be sold in an hour. Make it a point to fix the mess already present in agriculture. Don’t add to it. By making simple, yet intelligent technology solutions, you’ll be soon making waves solving big agtech problems.

Turn the Challenge Into an Opportunity

As an entrepreneur, you are probably already aware that solving problems is what a business should all be about. Since it is in your interest to enable scaling and growth, you should also be aware that problem-solving never ends. Given that the global food system will need to be capable of producing food for a projected 9 billion people by 2050, agtech is precisely all about creating sustainable and transparent agriculture growth. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?

The first thing that matters is to identify an existing problem that needs a creative solution and build your product around it. Be sure to talk with people from different backgrounds. They will give you a valuable insight into the potential value of your idea. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty doing some work. Visit farmers to gather objective, unbiased feedback. It’s important that you understand the problem from their point of view.

Do Your Research and Be Mindful of Your Data

Agtech startups need unique research techniques. When conducting market analysis, observe, engage, and listen continuously in order to identify and cater to unmet needs of agriculture professionals. Be adaptable, and open minded when analyzing agtech trends, which we usually define as technology increasing the efficiency of farms, in the form of software, sensors, aerial-based data, and internet-based distribution channels (marketplaces).

High quality data will lead to valuable information and insights for your agtech business. Manage your data correctly and ensure their quality. Only in this way they will become your valuable asset in the emerging agtech space. Once you are armed with high quality data, you can start revolutionizing not only your agtech business, but also the entire community.

Be Disruptive

The first half of 2015, saw a jump in deals and dollars going into the agtech space, with more than $2.06 billion invested across 280 deals spanning in the agriculture value chain. This space is ripe for disruption.

What makes your agtech idea stand out? Can you articulate, in 20 words or less, why you are uniquely valuable? Sustainable competitive advantage over other agtech businesses is the key to success.

The best thing you could do for your agtech is to focus on one key feature that truly makes you stand out. Be careful, though, when comparing yourself with other disruptive startups. Are you sure you want to follow the latest craze and be the Uber-like startup for everything? Ideally, you want your agtech to stand on its own two feet.

But, Don’t Forget to Invoke Delight

Turn your data into a source of customer delight. It’s the cherry on top of the cake. The underlying blocks of livestock trading are inherently delightful: for the farmer, it’s about receiving compensation for their hard work, and for the buyer, it’s about recognizing those incredibly important contributions.

Have you found the source of delight for your target market, yet?

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Nevena Tomovic is currently working in Online Marketing and Communications at Farmia. She has been involved in copywriting and translation, after having completed a B.A. at UCL in Modern Languages, and an M.A at Leeds in Applied Translation. She is an animal lover who enjoys using her languages to write about current trends in agriculture in Europe.

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