Hone TEK Program 2
25 Sept 2023
ConnectOne Club was founded in 2016 by Vijeesh Sathyanesan after he identified that Farmer Associations, Farmer Cooperatives and Farmer Markets lack a digital collaboration platform to coordinate farmers’ operations, understand market demand ahead of production & harvest, and connect with end buyers. Lack of such a platform was resulting in unnecessary operational costs, significant production wastage, and lower margins for farmers.
Over the Hone Program, ConnectOne Club refined its focus and developed a circular economic platform called ‘Circular Farms’ aimed at reducing the volume of farm produce that is discarded and associated financial losses and greenhouse gas emissions. At present, 30-40% of farm produce is not leaving the farm, leading to a $30 billion loss. Vijeesh identified that the major reasons were a lack of visibility of the surplus / unsold farm waste (what, where & when is it available?), and lack of visibility of the available food upcycling and recycling options (which & where are the nearby organic upcycling and recycling facilities?).
During the program, Vijeesh learnt that highlighting the business opportunity in a language that potential end-users would respond to was critical, as was developing a pricing model that end-users would perceive as good value.
Key achievements comprised:
Refining the digital marketplace to match surplus production, low grade produce & farm waste with opportunities to feed humans, feed animals, feed soil or recycle.
Partnering with Food & Fibre Gippsland and launching the Circular Platform in the Gippsland region with their support.
Partnering with the Shepparton Council & East Gippsland Shire Council to connect food growers in their regions to dairy farms.
Developing flexible pricing options for farmers and farmer groups related to their size and operational capability.
The F2F team was successful in creating a well-connected, friendly atmosphere for the entire Cohort. IT helped everyone to connect and collaborate freely. Moreover, various sessions helped to cover the fundamentals of startup. Bootcamp was another hit where we all were able to connect & work together, creating different value chains and clarity on the value propositions.
The plan is to on-board farmer groups, food clusters and regional councils to the Circular Farms platform in the Shepparton & Gippsland regions before scaling nationally.
To help the company grow, Vijeesh is raising $400,000 for technology development, business development & marketing.
"Our roadmap includes global expansion, with a focus on connecting farmer communities worldwide."
ConnectOne Club is poised for significant growth, with a clear roadmap, strong team, and a commitment to revolutionise the agricultural sector through digitalisation and collaboration.