Ben Tairea took part in Manawatu’s first Agtech Hackathon in 2017 and was in the winning team, Smart Farm Solutions. Since then Ben has taken part in four Hackathons and is excited about the Agtech Hackathon being back for another year. We caught up with Ben to hear his experience of being in and winning Agtech Hackathon on 2017.
What skills did Ben bring to Agtech Hackathon?
Initially he thought he could bring no skills to the table with his experience being less farming or IT and more business development. In the end Ben found his business management, organisation and people skills helped bring his team of strangers together and gave them the ability to look at the big picture of creating a business, instead of just a solution.
What was the biggest challenge of the AgTech Hackathon?
For Ben, the biggest challenge was finding a feasible solution in the small amount of time given. Other teams ran into problems wasting time and effort on ideas that were already in the market or that were never going to work. Ben's team thought it was important to have a proof of concept by Dragons Den so they worked very hard to have something in the flesh for the judges.
What was a memorable benefit of the AgTech Hackathon?
One benefit of the AgTech Hackathon over other Hackathon's was knowing the problem statements in advance meaning more time thinking of possible solutions before entering the competition. Ben also loved the resources that were available for teams to integrate their solution including Microsoft's software.
In the end the preparation and hard work paid off when Smart Farm solutions won the AgTech Hackathon taking away $1000 cash.
Since the Agtech Hackathon what are Smart Farm Solutions doing now?
Smart Farm Solutions have carried on with their project but in two separate parts. Half the team are running the power side and the other half going with the network connectivity side of the solution. Ben along with his brother created IOA (Internet of Agriculture) playing off the ‘internet of things’ using the network part of Smart Farm Solutions. Ben and his brother had a lot of interest from farmers on their technology and are now working alongside First Tree Grow on New Zealands first weightless-p network in an agriculture setting. They’ve also been developing on other ideas to support and grow IOA.
What’s a top tip for someone taking part in Agtech Hackathon in 2018?
Be as prepared as possible by researching your solution and the target market for your solution. Create a business model and prepared for your pitch - It’s all well and good to have a solution but when judges ask you questions around business model you want to make sure you have the answers. A good way to do this is to have one person solely working on the business model and presentation from the start so you have a slick and polished pitch.
Now you’ve heard from an experienced Hackathon contestant why not register for your very own Agtech Hackathon experience.