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.
This month, we introduce you to WaterSave and talk with their founders Damien, Darryl and Matt.
Q. What is your startup and what problem is it solving for the agriculture industry?
‘WaterSave is reducing the water and power consumption levels on farms.
By installing and combining in-field micro weather stations and soil moisture sensors, farmers are alerted when paddocks are sufficiently irrigated. Our solutions are extremely affordable, as our sensors do not require SIM cards, dramatically reducing monitoring costs.
In addition, our sensors can monitor nitrate levels, which assists in minimising fertiliser usage and the associated impacts on the environment.’
Q. Tell us more about your enterprise and what inspired this idea?
‘WaterSave is a North Queensland startup, which is also the home of the Great Barrier Reef. Currently farmers are under massive pressure from governments and environmental groups to reduce the impact that their fertilisers are having on the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
During 12 months of meeting with farmers, we have determined that they’re committed to improving their practises in order to protect the environment. What farmers are lacking however, is affordable monitoring tools to show them exactly what outputs their farms are producing.
When farmers are told by regulators to reduce their nitrate runoff by 80%, the first question they ask is, “80% of what? Somebody show me exactly what the nitrate levels are on my land.”
This is at the heart of the problem that we’re working to solve. So far, farmers have been very receptive to our technology.’
Q. What hurdles have you faced and conquered on your startup journey so far?
‘As most tech startups will attest, all of the trials that are conducted in labs mean little when you get into the field. Lead times are always longer than you reasonably forecast, as generally, anything that can go wrong will go wrong!
Choosing the right customer is critical, and the next challenge is getting them to understand that the process is one of continuous improvement.
We’ve found that it’s critical to be 100% honest with customers when there is a tech issue.’
Q. How can interested clients, farmers, or investors contact you?
Contact Damian on 0448 804 696 or visit www.watersave.io