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 Iotag and talk with Vijay Viswanathan.
What is your startup and what problem is it solving for the agriculture industry?
Iotag helps farmers focus on what matters to them. We’re an early stage startup that’s using technology to enrich farmer’s lives and enable smarter decisions. Our first market offering will be a long-range tracking solution specifically designed for pastoral farms. Using this solution a farmer is able to track cows, bulls, quad-bikes and literally anything else they desire on a farm. With time, our solution will also incorporate remote calving alerts, disease early warning and automated oestrus detection.
Tell us more about your enterprise and what inspired this idea?
A couple of our co-founders, Dr. Matt Petersen and Jeremy Crow, grew up on traditional Australian farms in Southern NSW – beef, sheep and dairy. Matt still works as a large animal vet in the Riverina. So, some of the genesis of this enterprise can be traced back to the things Matt and Jeremy saw on farms everyday growing up, and the things Matt hears when he visits farms as part of his job. Farmers work incredibly hard, but farming can still be a very difficult enterprise to be successful at, due to a whole horde of external factors beyond a farmer’s control – commodity prices and weather just to name a few. We also worked out that farmers were constantly strapped for time, money and people – they had too many things to track and take care of, had trouble finding people to help, and profits were never certain. All of this was coupled with the chance introduction of some of our co-founders with a group of techies from India, Switzerland and the US through the Sproutx Pre-Accelerator program. This group was also excited by the opportunity to deploy all kinds of cutting-edge technology to solve problems in agriculture; from low-power wide-area networks, to internet of things, big data, machine learning and analytics. Technologies that they have experience and expertise in, routinely deploying to other industries like logistics and heavy machinery, but which have never really been deployed on a farm before. The combination of all of this, is what made Iotag happen, and what makes it tick, to this day.
What hurdles have you faced and conquered on your startup journey so far?
We’ve learned a lot of lessons on how exactly to conceptualise a product that will sell, and gain reasonable traction. We’ve learned to keep things simple, to build something that can deliver real solid value to a farmer, in a way that the value is readily apparent. We’ve learned about the importance of being able to communicate that value to farmers, investors and literally anyone that asks, succinctly and in a way that immediately strikes a chord. A lot of these learnings have come from our association with the Sproutx Accelerator and the close mentoring of the Accelerator Director, General Manager and all the people in the ecosystem which they’ve been actively putting together.
How can interested clients, farmers, or investors contact you?
Please get in touch with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of us at the numbers below:
Vijay: 040 1949 190. Matt: 04 0044 0642.
You can visit us on the web at: www.iotag.com.au