LaunchLab has an exciting industry engagement coming up in July for pilot-ready Agritech and Fintech startups that are post-revenue. LaunchLab stands for facilitating valuable connections between startups and strategic partners in order for startups to pilot and receive funding and for our clients to innovate. We do more than just have our startups pitch to our clients by offering mentorship and various programmes such as Build and Countdown. The journey of Revolute Systems, a LaunchLab Agritech startup, portrays how industry engagements open doors and aid in progress.
The farming sector has been blamed for being a contributor to water wastage. Farmers use most of the water around the world today. According to research overwatering is one way in which farmers tend to waste water and a contributing factor with overwatering is related to the understanding of soil by farmers. This challenge has inspired two Agritech startup founders, Jacobus Els and Berno Greyling, to turn their research into a commercially viable product. In 2017, they won the Stellenbosch University Water Waste Challenge. As part of the prize, they won incubation support from the LaunchLab, Stellenbosch University’s startup incubator that enables tech startups to develop and grow.
Jaco and Berno met at Stellenbosch University where they identified and collaborated to assist farmers with a better understanding of data. This desire to make sense of agricultural data led to the creation of an Agritech startup, Revolute Systems. In order to develop a market fit solution, the Revolute Systems duo spent time with farmers to better understand how they work. Initially, the hardware they built was intended to measure the moisture of the soil but they soon learned that the market was saturated and their development did not go as planned. The farmers were already using soil moisture sensors and understood the value and data. The sensors were expensive and Revolute Systems was trying to reduce the cost and efficiency of the entire system. So this inspired Resolute Systems co-founders to pivot and simplify the process by visualising data for farmers.
However, this realisation to pivot came at a cost as events that led to the creation of the data platform was informed by a mistake that cost Revolute Systems dearly. One of the farmers who was a client requested his money back after their pilot did not work as intended. This served as a critical lesson for the co-founders of Revolute Systems. It informed how they conducted their business going forward. In a way, spending time with their initial clients who were farmers enabled them to review their service offering and how they engage with their clients. They moved from providing hardware to using EMI soil scanning, drone and satellite variation investigations and GIS terrain analysis and mapping to gather layers of data with their programmes. They are now able to visualise complex data to help farmers use their machinery and labour more effectively.
Jaco and Berno attribute part of their progress as a startup to the LaunchLab. Being part of LaunchLab has enabled them to receive valuable mentorship and advice as well as leverage the network within LaunchLab. As winners of the Stellenbosch University Water Waste Challenge, they were able to kickstart a process of developing a solution that is making a difference in the Agritech sector.
The industry engagement on 17 July 2019 will be an opportunity for access to market with our clients active in the agricultural space, such as Nedbank. Startups will make valuable connections in this industry engagement and stand a chance to receive funding as well as the possibility to pilot their solution. Enter here before entries close on 21 June 2019.