By - Andrew Bate - Founder of SwarmFarm Robotics and Director of Bendee Farming
Some people say, as farmers, we gamble every year when we go and spend a huge amount of money planting crops, hoping it's going to rain so we can harvest, not knowing what price we're going to get.
But we believe that’s the perfect mindset to have when building a startup. In agriculture, we face so much uncertainty and risk in Australia. We farm on the driest continent in the world, with the most variable rainfall, and some of the most ancient and poorest quality soils. And yet we are global from the start, because our domestic market is so small we are almost entirely focused on exports. To succeed, you have to be constantly innovating, always ready to embrace challenges and make them your own.
The SwarmFarm Mission
For years, everyone's been focused on trying to revolutionise agriculture, with plays in big data, IoT, artificial intelligence, and fancier farm management apps. But no one has been out there, delivering solutions that can actually change how farmers produce food and fibre. This is our mission at SwarmFarm- to unlock new ways of farming that are more profitable and more sustainable.
Making this change requires autonomy, and at SwarmFarm we build robots. But there was no way that we could invent all the uses, or all of the different sorts of technology, that would need to go on board robots to revolutionise agriculture around the world. What we could do was enable the smartest minds to actually join us on that journey. So we built SwarmConnect™ and opened up one of the first developer ecosystems for farming so software and agtech developers have a pathway to market in agriculture. We are the platform that helps high-impact technology get delivered in every vertical.
What we set out to do with SwarmFarm robots and SwarmConnect is actually enable innovation at a micro level rather than a macro level. All of a sudden, we have a scalable way to develop and deliver solutions that are tailored to local needs- to the particular crop, climate, and/or growing system each farmer uses in their particular region and market.
We believe this is equivalent to the app revolution that swept through smartphones 10 years ago. We believe that soon we’ll see a world where there are literally hundreds of thousands of app developers delivering solutions to farmers all around the world- solutions that would not be possible without our underlying autonomous farming technology.
Building the Team
Two years ago, we started delivering commercial robots, handing over the keys to farmers and opening up the world of autonomous farming for growers to own and operate their own robots. We were (and still are!) one of the earliest companies to be doing that globally, and we are really proud of this.
Now, we're scaling up production of our robots. We're also looking to set up our first pilot projects overseas, so we’re starting discussions with early adopters and SwarmConnect partners. Here in Australia, we currently have six SwarmConnect partners already releasing software within our system, with dozens more in the pipeline. As more apps are released on SwarmConnect, we’ll be able to offer more value to the customers that have already adopted our robots, and those that will soon.
As we enter a new phase of growth, backed by true-believer investors like Tenacious Ventures and the GrainInnov8 Fund, we are scaling our software, engineering, and field support teams to help us meet the ambitious goals ahead. It will be an exciting time in our company’s evolution, and we want people who believe in our mission and believe in the importance of farming and agriculture. We’re offering you the chance to connect with one of the oldest and most crucial industries on the planet, and join a culture of farming and organic growth that can’t be matched.
We are one of the few agtech companies based out of a rural area, here in Emerald, QLD. We could have been based in a capital city but we chose not to, and that's been one of the best things we’ve ever done: our entire development team and all of our software engineers are connected to agriculture as they are completely immersed in farming. We don't do field trips out to the paddock - we're in the paddock. It’s a life changing way to build tech.
I don't think of us as risk takers. I think of us as opportunity maximisers. We're looking at every scenario we've got in front of us, and building the roadmap, runway and infrastructure so that when an opportunity emerges, we can capitalise on it. We have a unique perspective on what it means to be a technology company, connected to the land and to the traditions of farming. It’s a part of the culture and the DNA at SwarmFarm. We can’t wait to meet you.