Platform hopes to improve quality of harvest
If you’ve ever tested your green thumb, you know how challenging it can be to keep your plants alive. A variety of factors like sunlight, pests, disease, water and space can mean the difference between a flourishing harvest and a flop. For large growers, produce cultivators and research greenhouses, Columbus-based RedBud SoftWare hopes to make the decision-making process easier, using their data-driven platform to ensure consistent crops.
“Our software is used for the operational aspects of controlled environment agriculture,” said Bob Wiggins, CEO. “These include greenhouses, vertical farms — any indoor grow operation where environmental factors are controlled. Our software covers issues like pest management, assigning tasks, equipment maintenance and space allocation.”
For large research or corporate greenhouses, RedBud provides the data needed to target pests in an environmentally friendly, cost-efficient regimen. Their system also helps greenhouses comply with the record keeping-requirements of federal and state environmental regulations.
“The data our system collects allows our clients to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work,” said Wiggins. “Before RedBud, clients might just spray their entire crop every week, which can be expensive and ineffective. RedBud allows them to record sightings of pests or diseases and track trends or issues over time.”
This data-driven strategy is just one of the many ways RedBud solves operations issues for growers. The software company also recognized the importance of task management for growers — greenhouses could benefit from having project accountability and tracking in an open, collaborative system.
“At lot of commercial growers, the head grower or the owner rides around in a golf cart asking people, ‘Did you do the thing that I asked you to do?’” said Wiggins. “They didn’t have a way of tracking the assigned tasks. RedBud simplifies this process by having a task management center, where employees and head growers can see at a glance the daily tasks that need to be completed.”
For Wiggins, building a data platform like RedBud meant a move from Oregon to Ohio to work as the Senior VP of Venture Acceleration for Rev1 Ventures, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier. While there, he serendipitously raised his hand to help run RedBud, a spinoff of The Ohio State University.
“I was working on an investment that Rev1 was going to make in RedBud,” said Wiggins. “The gentleman that we had lined up to be the CEO of the company received another job offer that was too good for him to refuse. He took it, and I looked at RedBud and put my hand up and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ I’ve run other software companies in Oregon, and this looked like an exciting opportunity.”
Coming from the Portland startup community to Columbus, Wiggins noted the importance of the resources offered by the Ohio region and the willingness for large corporations to invest in the startup space.
“In my experience, one huge advantage that cities around Ohio have in their startup network are resources like Rev1,” said Wiggins. “They’ve helped us with everything from funding to market analysis. Oregon had different groups that were helpful, but there wasn’t anything quite like the community here. Also, there’s a lot of big companies headquartered in Ohio that tend to be really supportive of startups. That wasn’t the case in Oregon. Here, there is much more cooperation and collaboration.”
In this fast-growing industry, Wiggins knows just how important relationships can be. Looking to the future, Wiggins expects to see even more teamwork when it comes to tackling food production and indoor farming.
“I’m excited to be at the forefront of a high-growth industry,” said Wiggins. “Vertical farmers and indoor growers are going to be the future of our food and crop production. It’s great to know that our product will be the backbone to that growth and drive change in the industry.”