The Cincinnati startup helps growers make sense of their data to boost operational efficiency
When you think of farming, you probably think of hard work— a labor-intensive undertaking that puts food on our tables and provides nourishment to survive. But farmers aren’t just growing and harvesting products, they’re carefully preparing for decisions that affect their yearly yield, and ultimately, profitability. Plantalytics in Cincinnati designed a high-tech web solution to help farmers make sense of their data to make more informed decisions each growing season.
“There’s an increasing effort to implement technology in agriculture with drones and high-tech sensors to help farmers boost efficiency. But we found that there’s a whole segment that’s being missed with some of that technology. Many customers we serve are still using binders, clipboards and spreadsheets to try to manage their production, which can be disorganized and labor-intensive,” said Nikki Ridenour, Founder & CEO of Plantalytics. “Our software is really focused on helping them manage their production and make better planning, and thus, financial decisions.”
Farming requires an extreme attention to detail, especially if growing multiple crops, and it’s difficult to make informed decisions when information is spread throughout notebooks, on sticky notes or in a spreadsheet. Ridenour, herself an owner of a five-acre farm and an experienced UX Designer who’d previously co-founded Cincinnati tech standout LISNR, decided she was in a position to make a difference.
“There’s more math and timing that goes into this than most people think. I initially built this for my own use, to eliminate tediously sitting down and configuring it all in a spreadsheet. I grow a hundred types of cut flowers which are used for bouquets, and if I need X amount of one type of flower and X amount of another, I need to know when they should be planted,” said Ridenour. “When I learned just how many farmers were doing this time-consuming work each year, I knew this could be a helpful product for a lot of people.”
The web-based software offers automatic entry creation with reminders and scheduling options based on recording preferences designed for small-scale producers and even home gardeners. The software can analyze this growing data to find patterns, compare choices or make future decisions for farmers to make sure they’re operating efficiently. It also offers intuitive recordkeeping for the business side of things, similar to a TurboTax.
Plantalytics recently wrapped up the inaugural 6-week program called gBETA, a “pre-accelerator” designed to help early-stage companies prepare the earliest versions of their software and establish connections with customers. The collaboration between nationally-ranked accelerators gener8tor from Wisconsin and Ohio Third Frontier partner The Brandery, helped Plantalytics tremendously.
“The gBETA program was really, really great. They were constantly bringing in mentors from the community and helping us with connections, which is so important early on,” said Ridenour. “I think all of us that went through it looked back and were like, ‘I can’t believe how much that six weeks changed our business and helped us refine our focus.’’’
Ridenour says they’re in the ideal spot to grow Plantalytics and she’s looking forward to a bright future for the agritech company.
“It’s a huge advantage to be in southwest Ohio, right between the super strong programs of The Ohio State Agriculture College and the University of Kentucky,” said Ridenour. “And we’re in the Midwest, where there’s no shortage of farmers. Combined with the startup support available here, this is really the best spot to grow an agriculture tech company.”