SproutX startups – FarmGate MSU
Each month, Findex 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.
This month, we introduce you to FarmGate MSU and talk with their founder Chris Balazs.
What is your startup and what problem is it solving for the agriculture industry?
An increasing number of high quality livestock producers are seeking opportunities to improve the viability and financial resilience of their farming operations by adding value to their products. This is often achieved through improving animal welfare, meat quality, and direct marketing/sales to consumers.
Concurrently a steady decline in the number of licensed abattoirs in Australia, combined with a push towards centralisation and export has resulted in farmers needing to transport livestock longer distances for processing, increasing costs and causing greater stress to animals.
Conversely, consumers desire ways to interact with and support local producers, and are demanding higher ethical and welfare standards in meat production. Consumers are also seeking enhanced meat flavour and tenderness, product traceability, food sovereignty and increased availability of a range of heritage variety meats.
Our proposed FarmGate MSU on-farm processing project will develop the missing link that currently exists in the current processing chain and directly addresses the farmers need for more accessible slaughter facilities.
Tell us more about your enterprise and what inspired this idea?
FarmGate MSU was inspired through the desire of a farmer, a chef, a vet, an educator and a marketer – to make a real difference to the current “commodity based meat industry.” Our concept will bring benefits to producers through factors such as a high standard of animal welfare consideration, highest meat quality potential, a unique selling proposition, marketing point of difference. We will also be creating employment opportunity and business development in regional and rural areas along with decreased food miles, guaranteed provenance and improved direct market access for farmers.
Furthermore, the FarmGate MSU model is scalable through replication of units throughout Australia. We envisage a future where a number of FarmGate MSU on-farm processing units operate within assigned territories, servicing farmers nationally.
What hurdles have you faced and conquered on your startup journey so far?
At the start, we were continually met with comments like “it can’t be done” or “it’s too hard”, which has just inspired us more. We are fully cognisant of the complexity involved in the “common-sense” approach of taking the abattoir to the farm instead of the current status quo. We will need to address design constraints, investment challenges and regulatory approval processes. Although our startup journey to date has been met with great success such as winning both the People’s Choice and Judges Award at the SproutX Pitch Event, as well as being successful in a number of funding applications
How can interested clients, farmers, or investors contact you?