AgLaunch uses a farm-centric model to build and scale Ag-Tech innovations, incorporating the farmer as a partner, mentor, and platform for ground-truthing each technology. AgLaunch offers AgLaunch365, a year-long accelerator matched to the rhythm of the farm season.
Name of Accelerator: AgLaunch
Location: Memphis, Tennesse, USA
CEO / Managing Director: Pete Nelson
This article is part of our Startup Accelerator Spotlight featuring accelerators from around the world. We hope these spotlights will assist the entrepreneur should they consider attending an accelerator.
In two sentences or less, tell us about your accelerator and its objectives?
AgLaunch uses a farm-centric model to build and scale Ag-Tech innovations, incorporating the farmer as a partner, mentor, and platform for ground-truthing each technology.
Why is your accelerator program unique? Please describe the benefits of participation in your program.
AgLaunch offers AgLaunch365, a year-long accelerator matched to the rhythm of the farm season. Participating startups take part in programming in Memphis on a bi-weekly basis, allowing the entrepreneurs to return home and continue work on and with their companies in off weeks. AgLaunch365 marries Ag-specific programming from world-renowned experts, investment, a partnership with a top Ag multi-media corporation, and access to the AgLaunch Farmer Network to give entrepreneurs the full suite of tools needed to develop and scale their innovations.
The most compelling part of AgLaunch365 is access to the world-class and innovative farmers in our network. AgLaunch coordinates field trials for all of our startups across this trial network to ground truth technologies and give startups qualitative and quantitative feedback from the producers who represent their end client. AgLaunch also has unparalleled support from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, which is committed to supporting farmers access new technologies and to making Tennessee a favorable place for Ag-Tech startups to do business.
What is the most difficult part of working with startups?
We have a hard time working with startups when the entrepreneurs are unable to take advice. Going through an accelerator requires a certain level of humility, of understanding where you excel and the aspects of your business and technology that need help. The startups need to be able to accept that help and guidance if they are going to make the most of an accelerator.
What do you enjoy the most; what do you find most appealing about working with entrepreneurial startups?
Working with startups is exciting, fast-paced, and potentially industry changing. Being able to work alongside the people, ideas, and companies that will disrupt the agricultural industry and the way we feed our globe is pretty awe-inspiring.
Tell us about your success stories; which are the most interesting companies to have participated in your program?
We are proud of each company that comes through AgLaunch365. A startup who received the most recognition since our program is Cowlar, a “Fitbit” for cattle, who went on to participate in Y-Combinator and receive investment from Ashton Kutcher.
Kilimo is an irrigation tool that helps to make decisions on how often and when to irrigate crops. They just closed a round of funding and continue to make progress with farmers both in their home country of Argentina and in the United States, where they are growing their presence.
Finally, EarthSense came through our most recent cohort. This startup is working to solve the problem of labor in field scouting and ultimately herbicide-resistant weeds.
What are the three most important factors startup entrepreneurs should consider when contemplating attending an accelerator?
Firstly, entrepreneurs must have either a background in or a desire to jump wholeheartedly into learning about the industry they are working to disrupt. For us, prior experience in agriculture or a demonstration that you are working to thoroughly understand agriculture is imperative.
We also ask entrepreneurs what they want to get out of their company and their idea. The best fit for an accelerator is a founder who is eager and intent to scale their idea and business. It is fabulous if the founder(s) want to keep the company small and retain total ownership. They are probably not a good fit for our acceleration model.
Finally, entrepreneurs that are interested in AgLaunch365 also need to see the value of working in partnership with farmers. We see the farmer as integral to the success of any Ag-Tech startup.
Are you familiar with accelerators you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them in the comments below.