WISRAN is all about improving profits for farmers by helping them identify inefficiencies. Their cloud-based software analyses in real-time, the time, cost, and effectiveness of farming activities. WISRAN puts a small tablet and GPS sensors in large farming equipment like combine harvesters and collects the data while the machine operates in the field. WISRAN’s software analyses that data, sending information back to a tablet on how to improve efficiencies. We catch up with WISRAN’s Founder and CEO, Arsalan Lodhi, about his move from California to Toowoomba as part of the Advance Queensland Hot DesQ program.
How have you found the community in Toowoomba?
The Toowoomba community has been extremely friendly and welcoming from the second we landed. People have gone out of their way to answer our questions and make sure our team is comfortable here in Australia. We have a lot of experience with the people in the Midwest of the US and the people are very similar in terms of friendliness and accommodation.
How’s the Toowoomba startup scene?
It’s very active and lively, there are multiple events happening throughout the week where anyone involved with startups, or curious about startups, is welcome to join. There is a lot of openness and excitement around startups in Toowoomba.
As part of the Hot DesQ program you’re partnered with a coworking space, how have you found your hosts at Canvas Coworking?
Canvas Coworking has been a great place to not only work but to connect with people in the community. They have a wide range of passionate people, whether they are entrepreneurs, freelancers, developers or have a startup. This diversity has has helped our team make connections all across Queensland. Joy and David who established Canvas Coworking have been exceptionally accommodating and are always available to answer our questions and provide advice.
Have you had any cultural difference moments?
Culturally there are not too many differences. The biggest struggle when we arrived was driving, because everything was on the other side. Every time we went to turn the turn signal on, the windshield wipers would turn on because the turn signal was on the other side. We did this absolutely every time for about a week and we could tell people were confused as to why we had our windshield wipers on when it was a beautiful sunny day.
What opportunities have been opened up to you by coming to Queensland with Hot DesQ?
Australia is a very big market for us. Because of Hot DesQ we have been very well received and quickly connected with universities, the Department of Agriculture and large farmers.
The Hot DesQ program is all about giving opportunities for companies to grow and expand in Queensland and it has opened the door to a whole new market for us.
What benefits do you think international entrepreneurs that come to Queensland with Hot DesQ bring into the local ecosystem?
We think every entrepreneur has different perspectives and experiences that should be shared; the mutual sharing of knowledge benefits both parties. Queensland has a very up-and-coming startup scene and having the ability to connect with international entrepreneurs who have a vast knowledge can only help.
How have you found the Hot DesQ program so far? Would you recommend it to other companies?
The Hot DesQ program has been fantastic so far. We have met amazing people and everyone involved with the program has been very open and welcoming. We would recommend it to other companies because of the wide range of connections and opportunities it brings. There are not many other opportunities for startups to come to a different country and be given tools to expand and find success.
What problems were you seeking to overcome with WISRAN?
We found that both of our customer segments, large farmers operating at least 4000 acres and ag-retailers have a common goal: they want to cover more ground in less time and cost; without compromising on quality.
The problem in achieving that goal is that farmers currently have estimated target finish times for tasks but can’t track the actual times. For example, the estimated time for truck unload at storage bin is between three and four minutes but no one monitors how long it actually takes.
There are many invisible costs in farming, like losses due to delays, breakdowns, or simple time variations that are not being captured or recognised.
Farmers are currently leaking profits due to the lack of visibility of inefficiencies in on-farm logistics.
What is your solution?
The opportunity for us is to autonomously (requiring no human data input) measure, record, analyse and monitor activities remotely in real-time. We’ve designed an integrated agricultural platform offered as a subscription-based software directly to farmers to manage risks in real-time.
How did you get things off the ground and get your first customer?
Networking, word of a mouth and customer discovery. Instead of rushing for product development we spent almost a year in customer discovery and that gave us credibility. We used to call farmers, not to sell them any idea or solution, but to ask them about their challenges and issues.
We are organically and steadily penetrating the market with a combination of cold calls, networking, referrals, winning pitch competitions and participating in supporting programs like Advance Queensland.
What are your plans for the next six months for WISRAN?
We are making connections with farmers and companies to better understand farming in Queensland. We will be hosting an event to present WISRAN to a vast number of local farmers next month and from there we are hoping to launch pilots with the interested farmers. We want to show farmers WISRAN and help them increase their profits.
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