“In the span of a few months, Wavefront turned me from an academic with an exciting idea to an entrepreneur with a product ready to sell.”
Saber Miresmailli, founder of Crop Sense, explains how Wavefront has helped accelerate the growth of his agri-tech company.
About the Company & Operating Landscape:
Crop Sense is an AI and IoT-enabled technology that delivers early-stage detection and prevention of crop stress. The technology provides accurate and timely readings of plant health, detecting potential threats and stress before they become visible to the naked eye. This results in a significant decrease in crop loss, helping farmers and societies move towards more effective food production practices.
In 2010, Saber Miresmailli had an idea to develop a technology to revolutionize the farming industry. As an academic on track to complete a PhD in Chemical Ecology, he had a wealth of knowledge in both the food and sustainable energy sectors. But to turn his idea into a reality, Saber needed to connect with individuals who could offer the business know-how, funding opportunities and support to create a marketable product.
“I was basically an academic with an idea, but didn’t know how to make a product out of it, let alone sell it! Around that time I was told by a friend, you have to go to Wavefront, they can really help you make things happen!”
Shortly after arriving at Wavefront in 2014, Saber enrolled in the Venture Acceleration Program (VAP). Through this program and the many connections made at Wavefront, Saber hit the ground running as a first-time entrepreneur. Wavefront provided many arms of support to get him started on the right path:
Gateway to Possibility and Connection:
Saber was introduced to government agencies like NRC-IRAP and other organizations who support the growth of tech startups. “I learned there is a lot of support out there for people like me. Wavefront was the gateway to understanding what’s available and what’s possible.”
Education and Training:
The Venture Acceleration Program helped Saber develop a sound business plan, minimum viable product and an understanding of real customer needs before heading to market.
Executives in Residence:
One-on-one coaching from a seasoned business mentor guided each of Saber’s steps forward and helped him avoid common pitfalls along the way. “Learning to draft a shareholder agreement, how to acquire the right patents and the right people to hire was invaluable mentorship when just starting out.”
Building a network of advocates through Wavefront, Saber was able to leverage newfound collective knowledge and contacts to expedite his company’s success. “Wavefront is full of amazing people — many of whom went from advocates to great friends. Learning from fellow entrepreneurs at Wavefront was a great perk!”
As a result of the support received at Wavefront, Crop Sense is off to a rolling start in the market as seen through the following successes:
Crop Sense raised more than $800,000 in funding through its newfound network of support. Numerous grants were received from NRC-IRAP, MITACS, NSERC, BCIC, and the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC funded the first pilot after connecting with the company through Wavefront.
Product Roll-out & Customer Traction:
The Crop Sense technology is now in its fifth generation. With the support of Wavefront mentors, the product continued to evolve with a mind to true user needs, going on to prove itself as valuable in the market.
Crop Sense technology is actively used in BC nurseries. In 2017, the company will extend commercial roll-out across North America including California and Mexico, with plans to venture into Europe, Asia and Australia in 2018.
Operational Efficiency & Onboarding:
Crop Sense has now grown from a team of two to 11. In looking to grow the staff, Saber was supported by Wavefront’s connections to talent and funding to get the right people on board at the right time.
The company has filed multiple patents for their revolutionary technology and continues to apply learnings from their Wavefront education to take steps towards efficient growth.
Awards & Social Impact:
With its early success, Crop Sense has already garnered attention from many groups and awards across Canada, such as:
- Serving as an advisor to the BC Minister of Agriculture
- Representing BC at The United Nations Climate Technology Center and Network
- Being named as a Top 10 company in the 2014 BCIC New Venture Competition
- Winning the IAFBC 2015 Award of Excellence for Innovation in Agriculture and Agri-food
- Winning the 2016 TSX Award for Best Presentation at BC Angel Forum
- Winning the 2016 BC AgriTech Art of Pitch Challenge
- Winning the 2016 Innovation Award of North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce
- Actively participating in the Vancouver food policy council