First 'Grower Days' Program a Success
Posted on December 06, 2017 15:26 PM by WGCIT
By Emily Lyons
Western Grower’s Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) hosted its first “Grower Days” event this week on December 4th and 5th. Grower Days offered resident startups of the WGCIT the opportunity to connect one-on-one with Western Growers’ farmers and production managers.
“Our core strength is connecting companies and creating market access. Our ability to introduce agtech startups to industry was on full display Monday and Tuesday [during Grower Days],” said WGCIT Lead Dennis Donohue about the first Grower Days event. “We look forward to hosting more of these events in 2018, and we appreciate the growers’ support of this WG initiative.”
Western Growers member participants included Christensen & Giannini LLC, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Anthony Vineyards, Richpak, Mission Ranches, American Farms, Taylor Farms, Bowles Farming, and Ratto Brothers. The operations teams from these farming companies proved invaluable to the startups, as they received immediate feedback on their technologies and answers to their production questions.
“We saw some great technologies and look forward to seeing more soon,” said Michael Safina, Laboratory Specialist at Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Inc.
Growers came from Los Banos, the Central Valley, South County, Bakersfield, and the Salinas Valley to meet with the agtech startups, offering a broad range of expertise for the technologists to glean from. There was also a wide variety of crops represented by the production teams, such as lettuces, strawberries, celery, carrots, table grapes, citrus, nuts, melons, cotton, pumpkins, peppers, snap peas, tomatoes, and specialty leafy greens (i.e. chard, kale, chicories, etc.).
The startups met with each grower privately in one-on-one sessions, which WGCIT Director Dennis Donohue referred to as “speed dating.” Because there was such a variation in crops and production approaches, the technologists were able to ask questions and share their pitch decks with the teams they have been targeting.
“We, as technology startups, have the opportunity to build products that not only improve, but can fundamentally change the dynamics and economics of farming today, yet often times fail because we don’t understand our customers and their operations sufficiently. Thanks to WGIT and events like Growers Days, we are genuinely connecting with tech-hungry growers, and developing our products alongside early adopters, which is worth its weight in gold,” said Aubrey Donnellan, Co-founder, Bear Flag Robotics.
It is also worth noting that several of the WGCIT’s international and out of state startups traveled to Salinas, California to participate in Growers Days. For example, RootsTalk general manager Roi Adar was here from Israel, and the GeoVisual Analytics team flew in from Colorado. Many of the others startups came down from the Silicon Valley and Sacramento area.
“We met with several growers and we've already been invited for several farm visits,” said Adar. “This is a valuable initiative, which is very considerable of both farmer's and the Center's members time resources. We are already looking forward for the next Growers Day! Thank you to WGCIT for hosting Grower Days.”
The following fourteen agtech startups participated in this first Grower Day event:
· Grower’s Secret
· California Safe Soil
· TMD Tech Solutions
· Boost Biomes
· GeoVisual Analytics
· Bear Flag Robotics
· iTrade Network
· Ayrstone Productivity
For more information about Growers Days, contact Hank Giclas at (949) 885-2205.