Ground-to-cloud sharing: Lincoln AgTech startup RealmFive revolutionizes wireless connectivity in agriculture

It’s all about connecting the dots for Lincoln agriculture tech startup RealmFive.  Through a series of products, sensors and cloud technologies, RealmFive is bringing the latest in tech to farms around the world. “Our goal as a company is to connect and control all the things that our customers care about on the farm and…

Photo courtesy of RealmFive
Photo courtesy of RealmFive

It’s all about connecting the dots for Lincoln agriculture tech startup RealmFive. 

Through a series of products, sensors and cloud technologies, RealmFive is bringing the latest in tech to farms around the world.

“Our goal as a company is to connect and control all the things that our customers care about on the farm and with their agribusiness operations,” said Steve Tippery, RealmFive president and CEO. “There’a a lot of things that are in the process of becoming digitized and automated. That’s the business we’re playing — connecting all the dots with data.”

RealmFive CEO & cofounder Steve Tippery

Founded in 2015 (and previously named IntelliFarm), the company’s name is a nod to the major changes that have disrupted the agriculture industry since the 20th century: mechanization, hybridization, genetically modified organisms and precision agriculture. The fifth realm? RealmFive believes it’s a focus on data and automation.

There’s been a huge shift with these technologies in farming within the last five to 10 years, said Brant Burkey, chief innovation officer, citing his own experience working on a family farm. And he predicts this is just the beginning.

RealmFive CIO & cofounder Brant Burkey

“I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet with regards to the amount of data available,” Burkey said. “And I think that’s probably one of the bigger problems that agriculture has. How do you deal with all of this data?”

Burkey co-founded RealmFive with CEO Tippery in 2015. Both men come from farming families and both saw similar issues and opportunities within the industry.

“We felt we could make a difference in the space,” Burkey says. “A lot of the groups we had been talking with had seen a similar push back where you have difficulty getting data out of agriculture environments.”

But that’s not for a lack of capturing it, Burkey said. Rather, the issues with data and farming rise out of equipment that doesn’t communicate with other devices, sensors that are too expensive to implement on a large scale, and the data being spread across various programs and behind multiple logins, he said. 

“We knew that for us to be able to make sense of this, we needed to have a better way of pulling all that information together,” Burkey said. 

The company began focusing on drop-in networks that could gather data from several different locations and devices, then send it to a centralized location on the cloud. The first RealmFive product was a solar-powered data gateway that functions similarly to a Wi-Fi hotspot in a home, except it’s covering several miles and collecting data from multiple sources and sensors. 

In addition to the data gateway, the company’s website lists the various easy-to-deploy remote monitoring sensors developed by RealmFive, including products to monitor soil moisture, irrigation pivots, water levels and weather data.

After being sent to a server, the data can be shared with applications via API.

Photo courtesy of RealmFive

The devices RealmFive uses apply in multiple agricultural verticals, such as livestock, agronomy or inventory management, CIO Burkey said. That’s in response to a growing demand for smart farming products and abilities, especially among a new, younger generation of owners. 

“We’re living in a world now where everybody is very comfortable with consumer-grade apps and tools and they expect those things for the farm,” Burkey said. “That’s where we’re working a lot right now. How do we bring more of that experience that everybody expects from their banking and music apps?”

RealmFive currently has around 20 employees and also works with a group of contractors. The company is currently considering opening a second office, Tippery said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing trade war with China haven’t impacted business significantly, said Tippery. While deals weren’t lost during the early stages of the global pandemic, some were reduced in scope or affected due to travel restrictions. 

But despite the pandemic, RealmFive is seeing strong growth in international business, Tippery said. The company has customers all over the globe, including a recently launched large network in Canada, devices in California and products in Africa.  

Overall, Tippery is optimistic about RealmFive’s future growth opportunities. The company just received an investment from the Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund, a great strategic partner, he said.

“We’re well positioned for growth because we augment people,” Tippery said. “One of the biggest problems in the agriculture market has been a lack of people or a lack of people that are available to do certain types of roles. A lot of the things we do are mitigating the need for as many people or making people available to do more. We’re well-positioned to deal with issues like this as we get bigger.”

Photo courtesy of RealmFive

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