Each month, Crowe Horwath will profile the startups that have been accepted into the 2017 SproutX Accelerator program.
SproutX is a joint venture between Findex and the National Farmer’s Federation. It’s an innovation hub and startup accelerator designed specifically for the Agtech sector- the first of its kind in Australia.
SproutX focuses on nurturing startups and entrepreneurs to help transform the country’s $60 billion agriculture sector by helping solve a broad range of problems in the industry, using innovative solutions.
11 startup teams have been selected to join this year’s SproutX program; each receive $40,000 in capital, access to ongoing mentoring from industry experts and office space for six months.
The core focus of SproutX is about bringing together the entire agtech ecosystem across Australia into one place. This includes government, corporate, investment, entrepreneurs, industry, and of course the most important stakeholder; the farmer.
What is your startup and what problem is it solving for the agriculture industry?
Farmers are spending more than 30% of their final income controlling pests and diseases in their crops, and while IPM provides the best practices to deal with this problem, it is not easy or affordable for most farmers. For that reason, we have created Farmapp, an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) software-based service for crops. The software includes a combination of scouting and fumigation apps with sensors and brings automation (IOT) devices to the agriculture sector.
Tell us more about your enterprise and what inspired this idea?
Farmapp began in 2014 as a digital Integrated Pest Management (IPM) solution. Farmapp was founded by Luis Eduardo Ortiz (Mechanical Engineer) and Carlos Gonzalez (Electrical Engineer), when they saw an opportunity to improve the existing processes related to pests and diseases with technology by using mobile apps, web and sensors.
Farmapp is currently being used in over 40 farms & 1200 greenhouses across Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya. Farmapp has recently taken investment from the SproutX accelerator program – backed by industry leaders such as the National Farmers Fund (NFF), Ruralco, Findex, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), and the Victorian government – as we look to expand into the Australian market.
Farmapp has developed a data analytics platform that combines information from different technological modules such as georeferenced scouting apps, spray monitoring modules, soil sensors, and weather stations. Once the information is processed and analysed, it’s delivered back to the farmers via email, SMS, and access through our business intelligence platform. This information is used to plan biological controls, analyse and program the spraying of a particular product, monitor the incidence of pests and diseases, automate greenhouses, and much more.
What hurdles have you faced and conquered on your startup journey so far?
The two main challenges we’ve faced during the last two years span across the whole sector. Firstly, it is difficult to convince a “traditionalist” industry to adopt new products and methods. Secondly, geographic isolation and hence, underdeveloped connectivity is also a challenge for tech-based startups such as Farmapp.
How can interested clients, farmers, or investors contact you?
Carlos Gonzalez and Luis Eduardo Ortiz.
Direct contact: Carlos Gonzalez
Mobile: 0414 352 886
Address: Level 1, 459 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000