“Silicon Valley Comes to Agriculture” Article by Farm Industry News
Feb 12, 2015
aWhere CEO, John Corbett, discusses aWhere's beginnings and the need for Silicon Valley to bring its entrepreneurial expertise to the ag tech space with Farm Industry News.
Tech at work
John Corbett is one of those entrepreneurs who has turned to this new funding source to expand his company, aWhere. With a Ph.D. in agricultural climatogy, “it wasn’t my dream to be an entrepreneur,” Corbett says. “We ran a company in ag climate consulting for eight years, and we had a vision for a platform. We would sell services and sell data — and now we are an SaaS company delivering localized, agronomic weather, globally.”
SaaS means “software as a service,” and it is a growing trend in tech. You don’t buy a program, you subscribe to it over the Web — offering you access to tools and technologies pretty simply.
The aWhere platform is a weather modeling program that allows users to bring in their own data and include weather information to manage crops. The program is seeing growth in developing countries, where farmers are hungry for information they can use to manage crops.
These funding sources are more than just money, Corbett says. As FarmLogs’ Vollmar found, there are communities of entrepreneurs that are linked by these funding sources. “With my academic background, I was not familiar with entrepreneurship itself,” Corbett notes. “Many people don’t know how to be an entrepreneur, and learning to become one took assistance from the investors.”
He adds that the Silicon Valley money coming into agriculture carries along valuable expertise he can put to use in developing his business. “It’s the people who know how to do this,” he adds. “There’s an enormous amount of wisdom and knowledge available.”
Corbett’s weather data platform can help a farmer in a developing country determine ways to manage a crop for better yield. And his data even show how a changing climate is impacting valuable food crops in those countries. “Warmer nights in one country that increase the incidence of disease in edible beans can cut yield 50%,” he says. “That’s significant if you’re counting on that food to feed your family.”
Read the full article here.