A Customer-First Approach to Agtech
How can agtech companies bridge the gap between their ideas and the practical realities of farming? Well, it starts by focusing on the customer and their feedback, says Tom Shapland, CEO of Tule Technologies.
Shapland… “Go get customers. Go sell your product and everything else is going to fall into place. And it was a very similar thing with the story of Tule. I wanted this product to go out into the world and if you get people to use it, everything else will fall into place. One of the initial problems that startup founders face, is they can’t find a co-founder. But if you have traction, it de-risks the calculation for the potential co-founder. Like oh, this is really a thing, people really want this. I’m going to join this person and help build their company.”
Finding producers who are willing to try a new product or service can be a challenge, but Shapland says it’s worth it.
Shapland… “In ag, it a little trickier because we have these slow annual cycles of farming. It leads to people being more risk-adverse, your customers being more risk-adverse, but you can still find those farmers that are willing to try something new and try it on a small scale and you get their feedback and you set people’s expectations. Like, this isn’t going to be perfect, but here’s what we’re aiming at, and here’s what you’re going to get in the first version and I want to talk to you and really partner with you to understand how to make this better and understand what your needs are.”
Shapland says creating lasting connections with these partners has a long-term payoff. Tule Technologies was recently acquired by CropX.