AgriTrack gets a boost from Sprout

SHARE

Sprout is scouting Southland to find New Zealand’s next agritech superstar to take part in the second serving of its accelerator programme.
Sprout, an agritech business accelerator, is searching New Zealand for eight budding entrepreneurs with embryonic agritech businesses operating in the paddock to the plate space, and using technologies that improve yield, efficiency and profitability.
The chosen eight will receive a cash investment of $20,000 and be placed in a five-month part-time and remotely delivered programme that will involve them being flown around New Zealand for mentoring and training from world-class leaders in technology, research and business growth.
The programme will culminate in an opportunity to pitch for investment to a handpicked group of potential investors, corporate partners and potential customers.
Sprout Business strategy adviser Stu Bradbury said Sprout wanted to help entrepreneurs grow their startups from great ideas into investment-ready early-stage companies.
‘‘We know that many earlystage entrepreneurs find it difficult to articulate their ideas and in turn gain support from customers, stakeholders and investors,’’ Mr Bradbury said.
‘‘We’ve addressed this with the Sprout programme and are happy to report that our first group of eight alumni all experienced strong business growth as a result,’’ he said.
AgriTrack was one of the eight companies that participated in the 2015 programme and it pitched to a broad range of investors from Auckland to Otago.
AgriTrack secured $550,000 of capital and is on track to grow sales by 80% year on year, and has achieved a 100% conversion rate from product trial to sales with Australian farmers this year.
AgriTrack chief executive Andrew Humphries, formerly of Charlton, said when the company started with Sprout, it had a product on the market but it did not have a coherent plan for growth, talent strategy, working capital or a strong sales and distribution model.
‘‘Those five months were the hardest I’ve worked in my life, but the support and advice has allowed us to develop all areas of our business plan and now the capital we’ve raised means we’re well equipped to take our business to the next level,’’ Mr Humphries said.
Mr Humphries, who is now based in Dunedin, said he found out about the Sprout programme from his sister, who had read a story in The Ensign about Sprout hunting for business start-ups that fitted its criteria.
When Mr Humphries investigated further he found what Sprout was looking for was exactly what AgriTrack was doing.
Although AgriTrack had a product, it did not have a strategy to take it to the next level, he said.
The programme gave the business the boost it needed.
The majority of AgriTrack’s customers were based in Australia, he said.
The business idea came when Mr Humphries was driving tractors on farms in Australia. It was then he saw the inefficiencies in the farm systems.
The company offered a vehicle-to-vehicle communications system, he said.
Mr Humphries encouraged those who might be thinking of applying for the programme to give it a go.
He was delighted with the results his company achieved.
The specific primary production areas covered in Sprout’s definition of Agritech include agriculture, horticulture, forestry, pipfruit, viticulture and aquaculture.
Sprout is being supported and funded by a mix of public and private sector leaders in agritech and start-up investment, including Callaghan Innovation, Livestock Improvement Corporation, Massey University, Gallagher Group, NZTE, Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 fund, Enterprise Angels and Manawatu Investment Group.
The Sprout accelerator programme was designed by Palmerston North-based business incubator BCC.
In the past two years BCC has helped to establish four globally focused agritech startups, BioLumic, CalfSMART, CropX and Polybatics, which have raised more than $15 million in growth capital from New Zealand and overseas investors. – To register to apply for the 2016-17 Sprout programme, which commences on October 6, seesproutagritech.com.register.