LOS ANGELES, June 7, 2016 — Growing up on a farm, Travis Carini watched as technology transformed the world around him, while paperwork keeps being done by hand, while life on the farm remained labor-intensive and stuck in the past. “In the farming industry, handling safety documents has never been easy. The gap between what was possible with technology and what was actually being applied to agriculture was huge” he says.
AgFunder tells us “the opportunities to improve farming efficiency are seemingly endless, which is why there are an increasing number of options on the market for farmers. But with that opportunity, comes a range of challenges for the industry as it develops.
One clear challenge is adoption and how to make the data collected relevant and useful for the farmer you are targeting. For many agricultural operations, acquiring and using a software system like many of those on the market will be a big adjustment from the Excel spreadsheets and paper/pen approaches that many farmers still rely on. So not only do AgTech companies need to convince a farmer to make the switch, but they also need to make sure that the user interface is easily usable and that the farmer will see an obvious return on investment in a relatively short timeframe.
Some farmers might be relatively tech-savvy and want a system that is quite advanced, whereas others are really starting from scratch. So how will companies appeal to the wide spectra of technology ability, operation size, and type of farming operation in the industry? The size of the agricultural operations using the technology is also important. Many of the options out there today target the very large operations in the US, which will likely be much more complex, with more equipment and teams than smaller operations. So how does a technology address the needs of both big and small operations?”
These are questions Travis Carini and Jennifer Harmon, Co-Founders of Food Safety Resources, have answers for. They met while working side-by-side at Giumarra Companies and decided to launch, in April 2016, the first-ever fully automated food safety software. This cloud-based, Website and Mobile App software – Food Safety Resources (FSR) – provides growers and packers a complete, robust tool to efficiently and easily handle food safety compliance, documents, training materials and information on all platforms.
First of its kind, FSR allows farmers to maintain accurate records of all their food activities, monitor activities in real-time – with date stamped logs for authenticity – and run reports by date range, assess risk and put safeguards in place to prevent possible product contamination etc.
“We did not have to pivot from our initial idea – based on a total transparency for the farmer – and we quickly went all the way to proof of concept. Our pricing evolved however as we were facing farms of very different size. It has been difficult to identify a good price structure. It took us time to find the right range, linked with the users needs and the specificities of their business. We had to do a lot of tests, talk to clients, compare our pricing to other software companies…” says Travis.
While setting a good price structure might have been one of the hardest things for the company to overcome, Travis Carini and Jennifer Harmon stayed focused at all time and kept believing in their idea. “My father has been by far my biggest inspiration. He is a successful entrepreneur and he became one through hardwork and patience. He taught me patience from an early age. I also learned discipline and hard work and to appreciate it” shares Travis.
While only two months old, FSR already counts more than a dozen clients and signed, a few days ago, a strategic agreement with Xgenex in order to implement solutions that ensure compliance with the new requirements of FSMA.
Nearly all the farmers using Food Safety Resources are located in Georgia, California and Michigan, but the company sees the whole world as a potential customer base. Their vision for the future? “Build a business that has a massive impact on agriculture and invent the future of farming. By building partnerships within the farm network it would be possible to propose a vertically integrated offer, from food safety management to produce financing and harvest optimization through the use of Bid Data” says Travis. Within a year, FSR plans on launching a spanish version of its software and to extend its offer to South America and Australia.
Despite a long way to go, FSR’s founders are very optimistic about the future for agriculture and emphasize its clear benefits to farmers.
“You have to walk before you run” Travis Carini said.