Hatch Program 3
1 Nov 2022
Alvaro Gauterin is from Germany and has a background in software engineering, robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Alvaro readily admits that he has no experience in agriculture but is working on a grains and livestock farm near Coonamble, NSW to better understand the sector.
Alvaro is an experienced entrepreneur having founded a health focused tech startup in Singapore. This was partially acquired by an Australian company and resulted in he and his wife moving to Sydney. The business was later sold to Zurich Insurance in Switzerland.
Alvaro has identified growing world population and labour shortages in agriculture, all within the context of climate change, as some of humanity’s most pressing issues. His interest is farmers’ pain points that can be solved with autonomous robotics.
Alvaro’s initial idea was to look at how to reduce the amount of time producers spend driving around large properties on a regular basis to monitor the status of their crop fields, livestock, paddocks, and infrastructure by having autonomous drones to perform these routine visual inspections. This could be done automatically, even without a strong Internet connection. His first use-case was to reduce the cost of chemicals by identifying weeds for spot spraying, but he has pivoted to detecting crop health issues as early as possible.
“Built a bigger network of growers and farmers in broad-acre and horticulture. Achieve a high level of confidence in knowing what my startup idea is and who my customer segments and competitors are. Build an MVP and trial it with different potential customers. Determine if I need to raise capital or whether I can bootstrap. Look out for opportunities for others to join my team, like a co-founder, advisor and/or staff.”
Alvaro is still focused on helping farmers and agronomists but has now pivoted to detecting crop health issues, as early as possible. He believes a farmer or agronomist does not have to fly drones themselves but can still benefit from critical insights they can provide into crop health.
A key learning from the program has been shifting focus from broad acre agriculture to horticulture, where higher value crops require daily monitoring and timely decision making. This makes the value proposition more compelling.
Alvaro’s goal is to talk to as many people as possible in the horticulture industry, and ideally work on a horticulture farm to better understand the pain points. In addition, he plans to review the scientific literature on the topic of remote sensing for crop health monitoring and research the competitive landscape in greater detail. Alvaro is keen to continue his pre-accelerator journey with the Hone Program.