- Age of business: 11 months
- Name of business: Farm Dog Technologies
- Location: Tel Aviv
- Team: Liron Brish (CEO, former McKinsey, post-harvest expert, farm-to-fork restaurants), Michael Hermon (CTO, satellite imagery and product expert, former Wix), Ido Zilberberg (lead software engineer, formerly at Outbrain and RSA), Carole Jett (adviser, former deputy chief of staff at United States Department of Agriculture), Aliza Tamir (adviser, former CMO at Netafim)
- Funding: $750,000 seed funding; €100,000 ODINE grant
- Elevator pitch: Farm Dog is a unified precision agriculture platform for small and medium-sized farms (between five and 200 hectares) to help them grow more with less. Today’s precision agriculture industry ignores the multi-billion dollar annual production and purchasing power of these farms, and Farm Dog is filling that void.
What does Farm Dog do?
Farm Dog takes the most advanced tools developed for the largest of farms and tailor-fits them for small and medium-sized farms. The Farm Dog platform is built on a foundational layer of in-field sensors combined with multiple data streams such as farmer inputs, micro-local weather, aerial imagery, and agronomist alerts. The farmer then receives real-time monitoring and alerts of his field to help him or her optimise resource use, increase yield, and better utilise managerial time.
How did you meet?
Liron and Michael met when they were looking for a new venture that was both challenging and did “good” (in other words, not marginal improvements on e-marketing campaigns). After meeting, the two realised they were on the same wavelength and decided to “startup date”. They started by working together on an Israeli entry into the Global Space Balloon Challenge as well as traveling across Israel interviewing farmers. The company grew from there.
Where did the business idea come from?
The idea came from where every good idea comes from – the customers themselves. The current idea’s origin comes from countless interviews with farmers in Israel, Europe, and the United States.
Are you working with any other partners?
The company has been lucky to have built an incredible supporting cast around it. In addition to ODINE, Farm Dog has the help of:
- lool Ventures – a micro-VC located in Israel
- Intel Ingenuity Partner Program
- Microsoft Ventures Accelerator
- Design partners from experts at top international universities (eg Cornell University) and departments of agriculture (eg Israel Department of Agriculture)
- Design partners from various international universities and departments of agriculture
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Always build faster, talk to more customers and make quicker decisions.
How has ODINE helped you so far?
First, ODINE has gracefully accepted us into their family. As a startup, it is always important to be part of a supportive community that continuously pushes you forward.
Second, we were able to bring in a new rock-star engineer to the team thanks to ODINE’s funding support. This will allow us to more quickly integrate open and public data sources into our platform.
What advice would you give to other companies pitching to ODINE?
Make sure to know very well the types of open data available to you out there. Our application to ODINE forced us to reinvestigate what data is available for us, and we were happily surprised to find that there was so much more than we had previously thought. The world of open and public data is constantly expanding – get on the bandwagon!
What would you say to other startups thinking of working with open data?
Open data is amazing and can provide an incredible starting point. However, it isn’t a miracle panacea. It is the startup’s responsibility to understand how to integrate the open data into its specific use case.
How would you encourage big business to buy into the open data movement?
Big business should understand that providing open data is a way to outsource its own development. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently completed a smart initiative in which they asked the developer community at large to utilise the USDA’s open data to create value. Instead of having open data lay dormant, the USDA was able to push its usefulness. We believe big business can work similarly to government in this regard.
What’s the key trend in open data at the moment?
The key trend in open data is figuring out how to actually make it useable. Open data is out there – but can companies leverage it? Issues such as structured versus unstructured data and the resolution of the data are current hurdles. Also, how do we combine open data with private data?
This article has been first published on The Guardian.