Regularly, we want to present you the startups that are part of the RootCamp program. In the interview series we introduce you to the founders, their innovative technology and how RootCamp has taken the startup to the next level. Let's start with GeoPard from Cologne (Germany) of batch #2.
Who are you and what do you do?
Our product GeoPard is an agriculture intelligence platform that enables crop farming agribusinesses to increase ROI and to integrate sustainable Ag practices into their daily operations using cutting-edge spatial data analytics and AI algorithms. In particular, we streamline and automate workflows related to the creation of zone maps for soil sampling, Variable Rate seeding application, fertilizing, crop protection applications. It has several major ag businesses as clients and analyzes millions of hectares.
How did you get the idea to start your company?
We started working in AgTech in 2012 being developers of the Zoner Precision Ag solution with which we joined Bayer in 2015. We were the first in-house technical managers in the Bayer Digital Farming department and were responsible for platform architecture, integration and development, and agile methodology implementation. Strong experience in IT and deep domain understanding allowed us to confidently start our own company. We bootstrapped an independent multipurpose crop-farming intelligence platform with a focus on B2B.
What makes your product unique?
- Independence and unbiasedness - we are not linked to any ag inputs provider; all data belongs to the user and is not for sale.
- Attractive business model - the model evolved from per ha cost model to AWS-like pay-as-you-go credits model, which makes our offer affordable for any size of agricultural business.
- Level of automation and analytics capabilities - automatically provided data layers and analytics, unique features such as integrated analytics of multiple layers, custom agronomic logic, processing any kind of data, understanding of yield limiting factors.
What’s your big vision?
Sustainability, biodiversity, precision farming technologies, and carbon sequestration - these are the main topics positively impacting agriculture development. There are many challenges to overcome along the way - from a constantly growing amount of ag data that come from high-density sensors, remote sensing, machinery, soil sampling, and local stations, to adoption and learning of new technologies; from growing food demand and ag inputs costs to climate change and soil erosion.
At GeoPard we aim to improve the adoption of precision farming technologies, make crop production more efficient and sustainable by delivering high-quality and easy-to-use analytics. We want to become a leader in independent cloud ag analytics.
What makes RootCamp special for you?
RootCamp is a vertical accelerator focused on AgriTech that is exactly what we need because of vertical insights and industry contacts. With RootCamp we have direct access to corporates that understand digital transformation importance for their business and the opportunity to run pilot projects with them. In addition to coaching from people with related experience and connections, participation in the program is equity-free and well-structured. There are focus weeks aimed to close the gaps in Legal, Tax, HR, Finance, Fundraising, Marketing, Sales, Pitch, and more.
What were your biggest challenges as a founder?
Having a great product is a must, in most cases, but not enough for customers to come. Being technical founders, we had to think about and develop many other aspects that were a little new for us, such as marketing and sales process in addition to product development. It is better to do it earlier than later. But no one will explain the product better than the founder and make the first sales for the founder at the beginning of the company's life.
What advice would you give to other founders?
In fact, you are not alone on this journey. There is a startup ecosystem with accelerators, hubs, grants, stipendiums for founders at your service. Of course, it will not do your job to make your startup successful, but gives you a hand. Be open-minded, grow your network, ask the community for help, participate in conferences and your industry events. Try and learn.
Are an agtech and bioeconomy startup and want to scale like GeoPard? Apply for our acceleration program and get a grant of up to €50k to cooperate with our industry partners. On our application site you will find all the details.