ESCARGOT caviar, an app that increases the productivity of fruit pickers, and a platform to help recognise stock theft are among the 12 promising regional, producer-led start-ups selected to take part in the inaugural Farmers2Founders Ideas Program.
The producer-led entrepreneurs were chosen from a pool of 24 applicants by the co-founders of the new development program, Sarah Nolet (AgThentic) and Dr Christine Pitt (Food Futures Company) with input from industry partners.
The eight-week programm, which will be run regionally, helps the producers answer two questions: first, is their idea worth pursuing; and second, what does it take to get started.
They will receive support, such as tools, coaching, and mentorship to test the potential of their idea and progress their concept from the paddock to the public domain both nationally and ultimately on the global stage.
The Farmers2Founders (F2F) program is unique in that the project is tailored specifically to Australian producers in the agrifood and fibre sector.
The idea was launched after the co-founders saw a gap between the agriculture and tech communities, and knew a different approach was needed to solve the problem.
Dr Pitt said one of the aims of F2F is to support more producers into the start-up market.
“It’s a program with some big outcomes for those involved. We’d love to see more producers high up in the ag and foodtech space, bringing new, exciting and highly-valuable products to market.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to support such a strong and diverse cohort of teams for F2F’s first Ideas Program,” Dr Pitt continued.
Successful applicants and producers Sara Bailey and her partner Cheryl Jakobi of Gippsland Pearls grow gourmet mushrooms and produce escargot caviar from their snail farm at Lakes Entrance, Victoria.
The entrepreneurial duo grow a variety of gourmet mushrooms and have recently developed “mushroom dust”, sprinkled over meals to add a subtle flavour to the dish.
Made from aged harvested mushrooms, or ones that haven’t grown correctly (that would be considered “no longer fresh” or not up to quality standards), it completes the cycle of using everything they grow.
Both are excited to part of the F2F cohort and believe the opportunity to experience high-performance coaching and learn new, best-practice tools to test their ideas was too good to miss.
“There are so many different challenges when it comes to building new revenue streams.
“The opportunity to iron out some of the issues with the help of F2F’s tech-experts is the chance we have been waiting for,” Dr Bailey said.
“I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and learn what’s needed to take my concept to the next step.
“The fact that this exists in Australia is so good for innovative growers who are ready to give the entrepreneurial world a shot.”
Farmers2Founders is supported by AgriFutures, Wine Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, Grains Research & Development Corporation and Meat & Livestock Australia.
In April this year F2F received Federal Government funding through the Incubator Support initiative funding as part of the Entrepreneurs’ Program.
The program kicked off with a one-day in person workshop earlier this month.