Farmers have to be as efficient as possible to help compensate for things that are harder to control. Small improvements in equipment or software can make a big difference in growers yields and their subsequent income. Sunnydale, Calif. startup WISRAN is looking to boost efficiency for farmers 2-5 percent. WISRAN is part of the inaugural cohort for the Iowa Agritech Accelerator.
How WISRAN works
WISRAN co-founder and CEO Arsalan Lodhi says farmers are very focused on efficiency, growth, workloads and scalability, but Lodhi says those things don’t always translate into more profits.
“Nobody was looking into the operations,” Lodhi said. “How long does it take to complete the smallest task? There are a lot of times when equipment is just sitting idle. There was no target performance metric, to let people know how long it should take to complete a task. Growers are basically doing their best as fast as possible, but there are no metrics for feedback.”
WISRAN puts a small tablet and GPS sensors in large farming equipment like combines and harvesters and collects the data while the machines operate in the field. WISRAN’s cloud-based software collects and analyzes that data, sending information back to the tablet on how to improve efficiencies.
“Our system will tell you when you’ve reached maximum utilization of your assets,” Lodhi said. “That can let you know when it makes sense to acquire more acres or add more laborers or equipment. That will have huge value for farmers.”
Working with the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator
WISRAN’s equipment is made to be installed in farm equipment. The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator includes John Deere and Lodhi is excited about the doors the accelerator might be able to open for his company.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that their network will bring us a lot of good opportunities,” Lodhi said. “Beyond equipment, there are also a number of insurance companies backing the accelerator and the information we’re generating could be useful to them as well. There are a lot of potential client opportunities.”
Creating a new category
Lodhi said the biggest challenge WISRAN is facing so far is the fact that it’s a new kind of service.
“We are creating a new category that people are not familiar with,” Lodhi said. “So we’re working to create awareness and education while bringing clients on board. People think WISRAN is either financial software suite, argonomics tools or a conservation tool. We are none of those. It’s a challenge because we’re creating a new category.”
WISRAN has five customers committed to a pilot program and has raised more than $140,000 in investments and $33K in pre-sales revenue. After their beta testing is complete, Lodhi expects to have a lot of useful information from their usage to further improve WISRAN and attract more customers.
“We are looking to raise $1.5 million by the end of this year, which will help us accelerate our customer acquisition,” Lodhi said. “We are targeting to acquire 15 customers by the end of next summer, by which time we hope to raise four to five million in funding.”
Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.