This post is one article of a series showcasing badass startups, mentorship genius, and insights from entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world. Follow the journey via http://www.catgeorge.com or on social media @kittengeorge on Twitter & Instagram.
There are more than 570 million farmers around the world – this makes up 8% of the global workforce. With these many people reliant on income and nourishment from the farming industry, it’s a great misfortune that this occupation is one of the riskiest and unpredictable.But Nahuel Lavino, Co-Founder of Pycno along with fellow founder Marios Georgiou, has created a solution – a technology that leverages agricultural sensors and data to generate imperative information to better predict agricultural yield and improve the efficiency of farming production.This agtech product brings information from remote locations to the agricultural industry – leveraging sensors, growers put in their fields to make agricultural production smarter, better, faster, stronger. The biggest impact on farmers is the increased awareness of irrigation – a problem that wreaks havoc on crops causing negative effects from crop loss due to flooding, mold, and dehydration. Born and raised on a farm in Argentina, Nahuel is no stranger to the staggering statistics that plague global farming. He studied robotics in university and created Pycno from the fusion of his passions for technology and agriculture with a singular mission: solve world food security.
Food security refers to peoples’ access to food and the success of global food production. In 2011-2013, 842 million people were suffering from chronic hunger. The World Food Programme (WFP) has created a live interactive map tracking vulnerable locations with the biggest food scarcity and exemplifies this is still a big f*cking problem affecting millions around the world. But as per most great entrepreneurs, Nahuel sees big problems as big opportunities.
Great entrepreneurs see big problems as big opportunities.
How does it work?
Each product is inserted into the soil, leverages a SIM card that works anywhere in the world and takes measurements from the soil providing real-time data to growers, farmers, and farming businesses of both small and large scale. The measurements include soil moisture of soil at different depths, soil temperature, air temperature and humidity, soil radiation, rain intensity and beyond. Not only is this radically improving farmers knowledge of the conditions of their crops and empowering them to better predict their yield, but this product is doubly impactful fueled by solar power energy. The most profound impact Pycno has on farmers is in its ability to predict irrigation by providing information on how much water is in the soil. This saves 50-60% more water and thus snowballs in saving electricity, resource usage (such as pesticides and fertilizers), and reduces the likelihood of devastating fungi that can result from miscalculated water irrigation. Likewise, Pycno’s ability to prevent crop loss by predicting frost is a major asset that yields massive impact on farmers.
Farmers save 50-60% more water and thus, electricity, energy and resources when they use Pycno.
The Future Of Agriculture
Pycno is one product part of an emerging industry of agricultural technology (or buzzword translation “agtech”), a booming industry transforming the future of food production as we know it by leveraging technology and date to better information farming decisions and production. And this industry is getting fueled by investors. 2016 marked a year where global VC deal activity declined 24%, but it was agtech’s busiest year to date with a 10% increase in the number of deals closed year-over-year. This was largely the result of new support from the growing number of accelerators and other early stage resources dedicated to food and agtech startups. Though this is a dip from 2015 (though still massively ahead of 2014), this market is still a sizeable and interesting landscape for investors despite fluctuating trends in technology categories such as less investor interest in areas of drones, food delivery, and bioenergy, which drove up numbers in 2015. Current startups in this ecosystem fall into these major categories: Food Marketplace/eCommerce, Ag Biotechnology, Farm Management SW, Sensing & Internet of Things, Novel Farming Systems, Supply Chain Technologies, Bioenergy & Biomaterials, Innovative Food Robotics, Mechanization & Other Farm Equipment. If you are interested in diving into 100+ startups and investors in this realm, here’s a full report excavating the industry. Drone technology is a particularly good compliment for startups like Pycno in that drones tell you how much growth is happening and where it is whereas Pycno provides information on why that growth is happening – or why it isn’t. The future of agriculture is more potent than you can imagine. Other futuristic trends in agriculture include leveraging the power of IoT, drone technology, and robotics to collect and enhance data as well as physically reap crops. Imagine a Zoomba for harvesting crops. Major publications – articles from Forbes, Bloomberg, The Economist, Techcrunch, and beyond – continuously are investigating the future of this industry.
The future of agriculture is more potent than you can imagine. Tweet This Quote
After launching sales 6 months ago, Pycno has already generated over 200 sales of sensors worldwide from organic sales without any expenditure on marketing or advertising. They’ve generated just under $50,000 in revenue – but are just getting started. Their products are available for customers to purchase on their online store (costing just under $500, or 4 products for $1,500) – 50% less than the cost of their competitors. Their major source of income comes from b2b sales, the majority being to companies with high-value crops such as grapes, citrus, apples and especially big trees. Pycno exponentially helps predict how fast these high impact, high yield products will grow. Pycno’s shelf life is at least 5 years – providing data for the next half decade and generating enough quantitative information to provide reliable pattern predictions going forward. Their ideal business customer? Distributors who are already selling farming or agriculture equipment, especially irrigation. Pycno is the perfect complement to irrigation systems and or other agricultural equipment with sensors. For example, Agro Services is an ideal company with features that are the soulmate to Pycno’s work – together creating exponential amounts of impact.
So what’s next on the horizon for this startup? Making sales and becoming profitable. (You can help them get there by buying a product here, sending them b2b leads, or reaching out to the badass team to learn more. Having generated revenue primarily from grants, it’s time to make that tough transition into customer acquisition and scaling sales. The biggest challenge they face at the moment is finding and retaining top talent given their scrappy startup stage. This is a challenge widespread across startups – having to compete with the salaries and benefits of companies like Google, Apple and beyond. In particular, Pycno is looking for new hires in technology – someone who can work with them on the ground in China helping design, manufacture, manage logistics, and lead sourcing of their hardware production. For more details, read the full job description. The second need is for sales lead and marketing guru who can dive into what the sensor can provide and get the word out far and wide to prospective customers. The team is open to remote or freelance hires and what an opportunity to work with a game-changing startup on the ground floor. Know anyone perfect? Is that person you? Reach out here.
Pycno is looking to hire 2 new people – a lead in sales/marketing and a technology lead.
And this is just their beginning. Pycno’s vision is to get data on how people farm today and understand empirically how to optimize their operations and how farmers solve problems in the field. They want to be the most potent and effective source of information to tell people how to grow their crops more efficiently – now and into the future. And that’s not just on this planet. Pycno has their sights beyond this world and is currently in conversations with professors in The Netherlands who are planting potatoes and tomatoes in conditions identical to that of Mars – a market that will be a part of our future. Until then, Pycno will continue to maximize data and technology for farmers here on earth worldwide. Given that they have customers from all over the globe – Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, India, Philippines, China, and across Latin America and European countries as well – they have already demonstrated traction that their product works everywhere and fits a global market need. The team is most excited about taking advantage of the big market opportunity in the United States – however, Pycno is not only for the 1% rich demographic. Being the most affordable product of their kind on the market, Pycno is serving customers of all income classes and is best positioned to drive massive value to farmers in India who are often victims of huge droughts and lack knowledge of what do in these situations and when to do it given their little resources at hand. Given up to 38% of people in India are farmers, the potential for defining the future of farming in India and creating impact is massive.
Nahuel’s greatest lessons for fellow entrepreneurs is a simple one: keep flexible. Pycno has globetrotting around the world to test its product in China, Cyprus, Chile, Puerto Rico, Mexico and beyond and advises fellow entrepreneurs to do the same. “Don’t stay in one region hoping resources and money will come to you – go find it anywhere in the world.”
“Don’t stay in one region hoping money & resources will come to you – go anywhere in the world to find it.”
– Nahuel Lavino, CEO Pycno
Support Pycno’s Work:
- Buy: Support their work and purchase a Pycno sensor here.
- Learn: Get in touch with the team to learn more about their work.
- Work: Explore opportunities of working with the team. They are hiring a sales/marketing lead as well as a technology lead (job description). Ask for more info here.