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E245 autonomow week4


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  • 1. Team Autonomow
    Autonomous Agricultural Weeding
    Presentation # 3
    Customer Hypothesis Testing
  • 2. Weekly Update
    Focus on weeding (drop the mowing)
    Customer need is high, larger potential market, could make organic produce more affordable – can change the industry!
    Farm Visits
    Bolthouse Farms, Industrial Carrots, Salinas Valley
    REFCO Farms, med-large grower, Salinas Valley
    Ag Services of Salinas, Fertilizer applicator
    Heirloom Organics, small owner/operator, Santa Cruz Mts
    Small Organic Corn/Soy grower in Nebraska
    Maintenance Services for City of Los Altos
    Colony Landscaping
    Market Research
    2008 Ag Census data
    Initially targeting high-density crops (carrots, spring mix, etc)
    Target market smaller than first estimated
    Weeding solution not limited to organic crops – investigating applicability to conventional crops (20x acres)
    “Spring mix – ya know, that crap you buy in the store that tastes like weeds” – Cliff, Farm Mgr
  • 3. Autonomow has made a pivot …
    Automatic Mowing
    Mild customer interest – buyers are operators
    Product replaces 1 or 2 workers
    Entrenched existing players and distribution
    Liability a big concern
    “99% of engineering to solve 1% of the problem.”
    Sven Strohband
    Automatic Weeding
    Hair-on-fire need from customers
    Product replaces 10 to 150 workers
    Relatively open distribution, no single tractor vendor
    Autonomow is no mo’ …
  • 4. Visit Highlights
    Above: Organic Carrots, 7wks.
    Top right: Conventional carrots
    Bottom Right: Very weedy. Will require multiple passes of hand weeding
  • 5. Visit Highlights
    Carrot vs. Weeds
    Due to small root systems, carrots have no chance against weeds
  • 6. Visit Highlights
    Organic Broccoli, closely cultivated. Weeds close to plants are hand-picked
  • 7. Visit Highlights
    State of the Art in Weeding Technology for Organic Crops
  • 8. Customer Hypothesis
    Hypothesis Confirmed
    • Growers interested in own equipment
    • 9. Industrial (10,000s of acres)
    • 10. Large (1,000s of acres)
    • 11. Willing to pay $100k for one unit
    • 12. Smaller growers (100s of acres) usually subcontract the labor services or rent equipment
    • 13. All purchases through local dealers
    • 14. Customer service is essential
  • 15. Customer Map #1 – Industrial Growers
    Example: Bolthouse Farms – Large Industrial Carrot Producer – 8K acres/yr
    • Equipment Operator
    • 16. Local Farm Mgr
    • 17. Cliff Kirkpatrick, visited
    • 18. Director, Ag Technology
    • 19. Justin Grove, interviewed
    Equipment Operator
    • VP, Growing Operations
    • 20. CFO, CEO (Jeff Dunn)
    Cliff, Farm Mgr
  • 21. Customer Map #2 – Service Providers
    Example: Ag Services – Service Provider, Salinas Valley
    Me (left), Marty (middle, Service Mgr), Doug (right, Grower)
    • ?? (service mgr’s boss)
  • What Resonates With Customers?
    Trade-off between cost and effectiveness
    Preferred time to recoup depends on the person
    Customer Service
    Must be local, attentive, and fast – solution within hours
    Don’t like working directly with manufacturers
    Equipment must be very easy to setup and operate
    Some operators have 6th grade education
  • 24. Backup slides
  • 25. Market Differentiation
    Market Research (2008 Ag Census data)
    Initially targeting high-density, organic crops
    carrots, baby lettuce (spring mix), spinach
    Not limited to organic crop – conventional crops do require manual weeding
    Lower savings per acre (1/5-1/2) but many more acres (x20).
    High-density crops are most difficult
    Highest need
    Successful technology can be expanded to mostly any other row crop
    Researching use in grains – acres nearly double all other crops combined.