Regularly, we want to present you the startups that are part of the RootCamp program. In this interview series we introduce you to the founders, their innovative technology and how RootCamp has taken the startup to the next level. Get to know DigiFarm of RootCamp batch #2 and its co-founder Nils Helset.
Who are you and what do you do?
DigiFarm is a Norwegian based ag-tech startup founded in 2019. We detect the world’s most accurate field boundaries to power precision agriculture, worldwide.
What makes your product unique?
All precision farming services and in-field analytics start with accurate field boundaries and seeded acres. Existing solutions for large scale field boundary data consists of Cadastral map data (national agricultural paying agencies) which is outdated, inaccurate and time-consuming to update through manually drawing field boundaries into digital GIS-solutions. There are ~34.6 million field boundaries in the EU-regions and 32 million in the US; a 5 hectare field takes one person approx. 1 minute to manually draw; 66.6 million boundaries would take 125 years. Our radical innovation is to automatically detect field boundaries on a large scale, up to three times per year worldwide, through using artificial intelligence coupled with super-high resolution satellite data, increasing the accuracy of current field boundaries by 10-15%. We deliver software as a service seamlessly integrated into clients (B2B/B2G) digital solutions (API).
How did you get the idea to start your company?
I’m a 15th generation farmer and crop-producer and took over my family farm, Farmen Gard, in Hamar, Norway in 2014. I didn’t have any previous agronomic experience, so I was just looking for ways to optimize my own operation: how could I save money on crop-inputs (fertilizer, seeds and crop protection) and increase my yield-potential. This is when I realized all digital agriculture starts with accurate field boundaries and seeded acres. Currently, this is the first touchpoint agribusinesses have with farmers, and it’s a pain-point, imaging having to draw your field boundaries manually every growing season. This is a pain-point not only for adoption of precision agriculture farming services and getting them in the hands of farmers, but also for agribusinesses to deliver and scale their services to farmers.
What’s your big vision?
Our big vision is to solidify ourselves as the global market leader in detecting field boundaries and delivery to the agricultural sector to agribusinesses. We are currently in an incredibly exciting phase of agriculture. Our vision is that in the next few years large parts of the manual crop-producing process will be automated where continuous monitoring will only become more important due to sustainability and traceability, and detection of field boundaries, internal in-field crop-changes will only become more important.
Why did you apply for the RootCamp accelerator program?
We applied for RootCamp as we were expanding our geographical coverage and tapping into the German market and needed to build out our customer base and network of corporate partners. RootCamp from our perspective is the leading agTech accelerator in Europe because of the fantastic content, workshops and mentor programs in addition to the corporate partner network and exposure you get to KWS and K+S, which is unmatched to other programs.
What advice would you give to other founders?
Keep chasing your dreams! Don’t give up. In terms of more actionable advice: validate your product-market fit early with real clients in the market, and build an executable team who shares your big vision.
DigiFarm is one of the first 99 winners of over 4,000 companies that submitted their innovative ideas to the world's most selective Deep Tech program: European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) Accelerator by the European Commission. This means the startup receives a €1.76M grant and €4.2M equity investment. If you want to get support like DigiFarm make sure to follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our newsletter to not miss the next application deadline.