EcoSystem Farms - Brendan Dobson
Hone Program 2022
1 May 2022
It was while at university studying Law and Finance that Brendan Dobson met co- founder Steven Preston, who studying a Bachelor in Biodiversity and Conservation, shared his passion for sustainable farming and interest in hydroponics. Brendan and Steven investigated the current problems facing the industry to grow and be accessible to a broad producer base. They have created Ecosystem Farms, a proof-of-concept aquaponics farm near Willunga, South Australia which has been growing produce for cafes and restaurants supporting Brendan and Steven to pursue their business full time. Utilising the Farmers2Founders pathway, Brendan and Steven wished to explore possible customer segments with their proven innovation.
Brendan used the Hatch program to complete customer interviews trying to understand who had interest and capability to take on an aquaponics system, initially he was looking for asset rich producers who were looking to diversify their income streams and had underutilised land opportunities. Brendan and his team were looking for a possible trial site to showcase a larger system that could demonstrate the value proposition to other producers. This led to him pursuing grain farmers. Brendan utilised the knowledge of the Hatch cohort and Farmers2Founders team to gain a deeper understanding of primary producers and how to connect, communicate and understand the grain producer customer segment. Brendan created an online presence for Ecosystem Farms with videos to help prepare for the investment raise required to build the larger prototype farm.
Brendan has used the Hone program to improve his investor pitch and further explore
his customer segments. The variety in participants gave Brendan the opportunity to gain
insight into a range of primary producers. He is now looking to also target medium wine
produces who have restricted water conditions and are looking to create more stable
growing environments and to diversify their revenue. The pivot to wine producers
means a smaller test site would be required, and therefore Brendan has been able to
revise the initial investment required from $1,000,000 to $300,000.
Having built a working prototype, Brendan now needs to find the right market fit and build a sustainable business model to suit his customer. This may mean focussing on a few key features first as he looks to build data about the larger system value proposition which will take substantial further capital investment.
Post Hone we will continue networking, find the best initial market fit and find partners or investors to complete a scaled up MVP.