Hatch TEK Program 3
3 July 2023
Bryce is a highly experienced farmer and agricultural professional with over 20 years experience in the industry. Bryce is a co-manager of their family-run farming business in Victoria which, together with a lucerne cubing plant they run from Yarrawonga, has a particular focus on lucerne and oaten hay production. In 2012, Bryce was selected as a Nuffield Farming Scholar to investigate alternative hay crops and value adding for the hay industry.
Bryce’s idea came from personal experience with the challenges associated with hay and grain production that are faced by farmers on a daily basis. Using his deep knowledge of the problems, Bryce has been building devices for commercial hay and grain growers, along with enterprises that are running pivot and lateral irrigators. His most prominent solution is a device for large-scale commercial hay producers to monitor their hay sheds. Bryce’s solutions, under the name Shepherd Monitoring Systems, have been trialed by several farmers since July 2023.
Bryce’s extensive background in hay production and experience having already developed several solutions ensured that he had a resolute understanding of the building blocks for growing a start-up when he joined the HatchTEK program . However, much of this experience was gained on-the-fly and he has been without a clear methodology or structure to his businesses expansion. In progressing through the early stages of the HatchTEK program, Bryce was particularly enthused by the simplicity yet effectiveness of the lean canvas tool. In working through the canvas, Bryce was able to better lay out the opportunities and needs of his Shepherd products and ways to capture the market.
Bryce identified that his key point of differentiation to other competitors in the space was his focus on the commercial hay producers. Many of the existing monitoring solutions for hay sheds or storage are designed for small producers or enterprises and don’t address the nuances of larger-scale commercial operations. Given that Bryce fits within his own customer segment, he was able to easily develop his lean canvas to identify the best avenues for growth for Shepherd.
Towards the latter stages of the program, Bryce launched a recently updated website which will be a key conduit for reaching potential customers. He also put his new entrepreneurial skills to the test at a variety of large industry events where he was able to conduct deep customer discovery and work on communicating the value of his solution.
I am excited to be accepted into the Hatch program, as I believe there are many new possibilities with AgTech to help farmers increase profitability.
Shepherd Monitoring Systems is in an exciting phase of growth as Bryce’s products are showing strong results in farm trials and beginning to gain traction from new customers. However, this early interest is also a vital period for Bryce to ensure he continues to grow his own knowledge and networks to build a suite of solutions which address a variety of use cases to a high degree of efficacy.