Grassroots Series - evokeAG.

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Grassroots Series

Building companies takes a lot of time, effort and cash. While there’s no silver bullet for creating a successful business, there are some foundational learnings that early stage founders can adopt to grow their companies and avoid common pitfalls. Cicada GrowLab partnered with evokeAG. to deliver the Grassroots Series so that founders can learn how to build agrifood tech businesses that will shape our future agrifood system.

We have featured a specific theme covering a foundational building block of agrifood tech entrepreneurship in various videos. Founders will find out what they need to launch a successful venture, gain exposure to industry experts and hear from like-minded founders who share a similar vision of changing the world. All the while, learning tactical skills and perspectives that will help gain an edge.


Are you solving a real problem?

The agricultural industry is facing many challenges. We need to feed a growing population; we need to do so sustainably and have fewer natural resources to do it with. We also know that technology will play an essential role in empowering those in our agrifood system to address these challenges.

So what are the first steps you need to take to build an agrifood tech business that will shape our future food system? First up, Dr. Dharmica Mistry will talk through what you can do to test your idea and figure out if it has commercial legs. Dharmica went through this process nearly ten years ago when building her own game-changing biotech startup.

Founders face similar challenges when building their companies, so you’ll also hear from two founders that have a personal connection to the problem they’re solving. Cicada Innovations’ CEO will chat with them to uncover their first steps on the startup journey.


- Dr Dharmica Mistry, Cicada Innovations
- Sally-Ann Williams, Cicada Innovations
- Olympia Yarger, GOTERRA
- Dale Schilling, Hillridge Technology

Don't skip the legal stuff

When it comes to navigating the legal aspects of launching your startup, we’ve got you covered. We’re going to cover the basics to make sure you start off on the right foot — from different corporate structures to shareholders agreements and all the way down to the key legal documents you’ll need for employees and advisors, we’re going to take you through step-by-step. By watching this video, you’ll learn some of the common legal mistakes made by early stage companies, how to avoid them and what to do instead. We'll also run through the IP basics for startups and the different ways you can ensure your IP is secure.


- Kieren Parker, Addisons Lawyers
- William Hird, Davies Collison Cave

Getting tight with farmers

Farmers are just like any other business person. They will invest and adopt when the opportunity is greater than the cost. If you approach industry the right way, positive results will abound.

In this video, Brooke Sauer will share with you her expertise on working with farmers, what to expect, what to be prepared to do and how to find ways to get connected.


- Brooke Sauer, IntellectAg
- Duncan Abbey, Westonfence

8 March: The art of empathy

Often when we venture out into the real world to talk to customers, we try to validate our own assumptions. We see ourselves as experts and sometimes miss valuable opportunities to be curious and truly understand the problems people across agriculture face.

In this video you will learn about the importance of empathy and listening when you explore the problem space you think your solution will solve. Jane Cockburn, Founder of Kairos Now, will share what these concepts mean and will provide you with the tools and frameworks to help you apply to your own conversations with customers.


- Jane Cockburn, Kairos Now

Distribution and sales

Your technology is only worthwhile when someone is using it. Having a clear path to market is just as important as the technology itself. As most of your customers probably don’t live in capital cities, there are a different set of hurdles that require scaling in regional areas.

In this video we will consider the challenges you’ll be faced with when launching your solution regionally. We’ll then chat to industry experts who will shed light on the next phase of distribution — the global market.


- Brooke Sauer, IntellectAg
- Duncan Abbey, Westonfence
- Greg Crawford, DLL

The fundamentals of funding

First up, Founder Ben Lee, CEO of InvertiGro, will paint a complete picture of how to get cash in the early stages. You'll learn the lingo and get an idea of the different types of capital available to startups - VC and angel funding, bootstrapping, crowdfunding, and government grants, among other modes.

Next, we'll chat with Peter Huynh, Partner at Qualgro VC, to learn about how venture capital works and he'll share some tips to help when raising capital.


- Ben Lee, InvertiGro
- Peter Huynh, Qualgro

Zetifi on farm testing

Cicada GrowLab mentor hours

Cicada GrowLab are now running mentor office hours — drop-in virtual sessions during the Grassroots Series program where founders can connect directly with our network of industry experts and investors.

GrowLab’s mentors bring skills, networks and years of experience to the table to give early-stage agrifood tech companies the best chance to succeed. Founders get access to senior industry leaders from Rabobank, KPMG, Microsoft, Amazon and more, as well as local agrifood tech experts. Our mentor network is made up of a bunch of committed folks with deep industry, investment and entrepreneurial experience.

This is an opportunity for founders to chat candidly about their vision and get helpful feedback. The team at Cicada GrowLab will pair founders directly with one of their mentors and they'll meet (virtually) one-on-one for 30 minutes to discuss any issues you need help working through. To match founders with the right mentor, they'll first ask founders a few questions about the kind of help they need.

Mentor hours are now closed.