Australian venture for Onside proves fruitful after wine industry win - evokeAG.

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Australian venture for Onside proves fruitful after wine industry win

A nice drop is in order for Onside after the Christchurch-based farm management app recently took out the AgTech and Digital category at the Wine Industry IMPACT Awards. The company was recognised for its ‘Track and Trace’ pilot project, which involved 90 winegrowers across four New South Wales (NSW) wine regions, putting its traceability technology to the test to improve biosecurity in various communities.

4 min read
Ryan Higgs from Onside stands in front of wine barrels. Onside CEO and Co-Founder, Ryan Higgs.

Ryan Higgs, Co-Founder of CEO of Onside, said the award is valuable recognition of what Onside is striving to achieve.   

“We’re trying to ensure that people have great biosecurity traceability tools so that we can guarantee a resilient sector – and we’re very passionate about that,” Ryan said.  

Onside is a digital check-in platform that simplifies safety, streamlines compliance, drives operations, and powers biosecurity.

Education key to biosecurity

Onside is a digital check-in platform that simplifies safety, streamlines compliance, drives operations, and powers biosecurity.  

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It was born from the need to manage the thousands of people coming and going from a farming business Ryan previously worked at – a necessity Cargo Road Wines in Orange, New South Wales is very familiar with.  

James Sweetapple, holistic manager and winemaker at Cargo Road Wines, said Onside makes it very simple to bring biosecurity front of mind to visitors, in a way we no longer bat an eye at.   

James Sweetapple in a vineyard.

James Sweetapple from Cargo Road Wines in Orange, New South Wales, believes Onside has enabled them to minimise biosecurity risks educate their customers.

“Scanning in and answering a few questions is so commonplace now; it’s very non-invasive and I show a video for not only mum and dad in the vehicle, but to the kids in the back as well so that that education continues,” he explained.  

“We’ve been able to minimise our biosecurity risks, and in turn, provide greater education for the public which helps other farmers going forward. 

“I really think that every farm in Australia should be using Onside if we want to get serious about biosecurity – we saw what happened with Verroa Mite – and the trace and track that it offers is what we need and what we should be focusing on.” 

Onside’s putting down roots in Australia

Having cemented a strong presence in New Zealand’s agriculture sector, the team made the move across the ditch 18-months ago.  

Onside is a household name in New Zealand’s farming sector and is now establishing itself in Australia, with Cargo Road Wines a loyal customer.

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Finding an unexpected ally in the Covid-19 lockdowns, which provided a boom for business in encouraging a huge adoption of digital tools by farmers, businesses and contractors, Onside is continuing to gain strength in Australia.  

So much so that the majority of Onside’s commercial team is now based in Melbourne after a trial run in Australia proved valuable.  

“We sent one of our team over last year to get a feel for the market and understand the customers, which is really difficult to do if you’re not actually there,” Ryan explained.  

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“That gave us the confidence that we could provide value in Australia, similar to what we’ve done in New Zealand. 

“Australia is a big, exciting agricultural country, the scale is much bigger than New Zealand, and the Australian agrifood tech sector is on a real journey of digital transformation, so the timing has been excellent.”  

The team also received a welcome boost from their Australian counterparts following the AgriFutures evokeAG. 2022 Investor Dinner and went on to exhibit in Startup Alley at evokeAG. 2023 in Adelaide.  

Onside CEO and Co-Founder, Ryan Higgs at Greystone vineyard, New Zealand. Photo | James Munro, Itch.

Ryan credits the experience with igniting relationships with the key players in the South Australian viticulture sector. 

RELATED: Onside’s Series A set to launch at evokeAG. 2022 Investor Dinner 

“By that stage we had a big presence in New Zealand and a lot of the customers in New Zealand had a presence on both sides of the Tasman, so it was a logical step to be involved, and from a capital raising standpoint, we certainly made several connections from the Investor Dinner,” he said.  

“What I really love about evokeAG. is that there’s so many companies, particularly startup and scaleups, that are front and centre and getting every opportunity to succeed. 

“It’s so well-attended by a good blend of customers, growers, and also other industries and government representatives – it’s just a great place.” 

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