Agriculture has long been an industry that has hidden in the shadows. It has always been something that people rely on, but not something they would be willing to invest in. This is largely because the costs associated with the agricultural world are high. It’s not unlikely to spend several million on a farming project, only to see a fraction of it (usually around 2-3% percent of your investment) return in profit each year. The time in which it takes you to recuperate your losses is far higher than most other industries, hence why it’s such a daunting prospect.
In addition, the agricultural industry is a completely different beast to tame. There aren’t many people in the world that could comfortably say they are experts within agriculture as many of the techniques and secrets are passed down from farmers. Without that kind of knowledge, it takes a lot of time and effort to examine the soil and make good judgments on what type of crops you should be planting.
Yet, as with most industries in the world, technology has slowly been creeping into the agricultural industry and it has transformed a once difficult sector into one full of innovation and technology integration that has made it easier than before to become a part of. Although it’s still not an easy industry to get an entrepreneurial breakthrough, the doors have been left wide open and there is plenty of room for daring entrepreneurs. But what exactly makes agriculture such an appealing prospect in 2018 and beyond? Let’s examine a couple of the biggest points that you can take advantage of as an entrepreneur.
It’s not just farming anymore
When we talk about agriculture, one of the biggest talking points is usually farming. Yes, there is plenty to be done when it comes to buying land, planting crops, harvesting them and selling them. In fact, it’s the most common way of getting involved with agriculture and starting your first business in the industry. Sadly, as mentioned before, it takes an extreme amount of money to even get started and far too many years to start breaking even unless you’re incredibly frugal and smart about it. It’s simply not a practical choice for most people. Luckily, there are other types of business that will allow you to get started in the agricultural world that doesn’t involve farming or even going out into the countryside.
There are now software developers that are using their skills to develop tools for the agricultural industry. One good example is a program known as ProducePay. It’s effectively a cash flow solution that is tailored specifically for farmers. In the future, farmers will be able to use ProducePay as not just a cash flow solution, but also a trading platform to buy and sell larger quantities of produce. The idea behind ProducePay is to bridge the gap between harvest seasons and gaps in income. Farmers can receive advances in payments before the harvest even begins, and this can be used to pay for equipment and other similar investments. Farmers can also monetize 50% of their harvest crop as soon as it is harvested, and up to 80% of their invoice immediately after the produce has been shipped.
It’s innovations like this that allow the agricultural industry to thrive and accept new technologies. Although it may be new territory for the agricultural industry itself (and thus its farmers) there’s no doubt that the sector as a whole is maturing and accepting new technologies. With so much potential for innovation and growth, it’s completely possible to consider yourself part of the agricultural industry even if you’ve never stepped foot on a farm and your office is located in the heart of a major city. With help from technology enthusiasts and companies that are primarily focused on the technical side of agriculture, the industry can grow exponentially and there are still plenty of opportunities to capitalize on.
Of course, if you’d like to get up close and personal with farming yet still create an innovative startup, then why not consider doing something similar to what BrightFarms has done. Even in major cities, the demand for local fresh produce is high. The shipment and harvest times can take a while and it can compromise the quality of the produce, which is why BrightFarm have decided to create hyper-local produce in the form of urban and suburban farming areas. These are essentially massive greenhouses that are partnered with local supermarkets, enabling them to offer extremely fresh produce for a fraction of the price and with less logistical concerns. This startup idea hopes to bring the joys of freshly grown produce to urban environments and creates more usable farming space with the help of technology.
As you can see, agricultural startups aren’t always about farming in the countryside. Thanks to demands for fresh produce and innovative technologies to assist farmers, it’s possible to become a part of the agricultural industry using your current skill set. This enables you to tap into the potential of the industry without requiring you to study several years for a degree in agriculture.
Seeking the right assistance for an agricultural startup
Of course, if you want to get involved with the agricultural industry then it’s important to get the right assistance. This is especially important if you plan to actually grow crops. Ideally, you’ll want to seek help from companies such as MKC Coop that specialize in agronomy services. They can help you get the most from your farmland (if you do choose to specialize in the farming side of things), but they can also help you with other aspects of farming if all you need is information.
It’s important to understand that agriculture is an entirely different industry to what you’re likely used to. There’s a reason why most people study for years at a university before they get involved in anything related to agriculture. Although it’s possible to learn as you go, there are far too many complex systems to keep in mind that you won’t even begin to understand until you’ve studied them thoroughly.
If you’re planning to skip the entire study and learning process then you need to ask for help. Always consider hiring a team of advisors and listen to what they have to say. Their advice is extremely valuable and will help your startup grow. They’ll also be able to offer ideas and assistance with any new innovations that you have planned, but you do also need to keep in mind that many farmers are indifferent when it comes to adding technology to their workflow. Many farmers like to keep it simple and use the same processes to grow their crops that they’ve used for the past several decades. As a result, you’ll be hard-pressed to find farmers that are willing to test your new technologies unless you have the right contacts.
As with any business or industry, networking is an extremely effective and necessary method of building contacts and making it further in the industry. Even using the internet to learn about farming and trends is a great way to get in touch with figureheads and well-informed individuals that are capable of teaching you how farming works, the type of innovations that are needed in the industry and where the market has space for your ideas.
Plenty of untapped potential for adventurous entrepreneurs
The agricultural industry is ripe with opportunity. From using drones and thermal imaging to increase harvest yield to growing fruits and vegetables without even using soil, there are plenty of startups already drawing in lots of attention from the agricultural industry.
The fact is; food is always something that we will need to consume. Until we develop some high-tech food that is capable of sustaining us without the need for fresh fruits and vegetables, we will always need farmers. In addition, the demand for organic, fresh produce is surging thanks to healthier diets, vegetarianism and a spike in veganism. With all of these factors combined, the agricultural industry isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.
With so much room for growth and innovation, it’s only a matter of time until the industry fills lucrative new ideas and becomes a difficult nut to crack. If you’re willing to invest in the agricultural industry and be at the forefront of innovation, then there’s a lot of money to be made and many business opportunities. Just remember that the agricultural industry isn’t all about farming. There’s a technological side to it that is ripe for innovation–all it needs is someone willing to tap into that potential and make good use of the technological advances that we’ve experienced in the past few years.