This week, we sat down with Bruce Rasa, CEO of AgVoice, to learn more about the company. Meet AgVoice!
What is AgVoice?
AgVoice is a mobile voice interaction service designed for food and agriculture professionals to capture insights on the go.
We assist and empower agrifood companies to increase the traceability of their food supply chain. We do that through a voice-driven service that allows professionals who, in their everyday jobs, must inspect animals, plants, and machinery, to work hands free to capture data.
What is the problem you all are solving?
As record keeping standards have increased in the industry, many professionals currently have no way to inspect and capture the data quickly, easily, and comprehensively. There are two problems we are solving: First, at the field level, we are enabling specialists to collect data hands-free. Today, data at this level is sometimes not captured, captured incompletely, or captured in a variety of ways which requires these professionals to painstakingly transcribe the information at a later time. We’ve seen that data is collected by pen and paper, with cumbersome tablets/smartphones that require the use of hands, and we have even seen farmers in the midwest write down business-critical information on the back of their hands in black Sharpie! In many cases during our customer discovery phase in animal care and plant inspectors, two people are doing a job that can now be done by one person with the help of the AgVoice platform.
From a big picture perspective, we are increasing the integrity of the supply chain. Partners like Dairy Farmers of America have key customers and stakeholders they work with. DFA wants to better understand their members’ processes and wants them to demonstrate that they’re using appropriate practices for animal care, worker standards, treatment, and environmental responsibility. Increasing the integrity in the supply chain also allows consumers to be more knowledgeable about their everyday purchases, which is a growing desire among consumers.
How does your product work?
Our patent-pending design is a software only service which runs on any smartphone. The first iteration is a dynamic form fill by which experts can verbally enter their records in any order; the system automatically converts the results to the required template and arranges the data to the way the information must be submitted. Uniquely, we’ve developed a food and agriculture-specific lexicon. Unlike consumer-grade voice recognition services like Apple’s Siri, we are doing the hard work and taking the time to understand and capture all of the unique terms specialists in these industries use everyday. That’s part of the secret to our system having accuracy that’s far better than the systems most people are familiar with. Our speech and language system development is lead by the former Chief of Research and Development at Amazon Alexa, which is considered to be the most widely successful voice-driven system in the world.
The system is also used with an optional wireless headset, so the worker has more freedom to work with their hands. We’ve also enabled an offline mode use because there’s often a lack of access to internet, it’s intermittent, or it’s expensive.
What were you hoping to get out of the Sprint Accelerator program?
Prior to the program, we signed our first two paying customers, both of whom focus on traceability in fruits and vegetables. But we’ve found that there may be many other sectors that could benefit from using our product. Having grown up on a row crop and livestock farm in western Missouri, I’ve always known that dairy farmers are the most voracious record keepers in all of agriculture, and I thought our form fill service may have a great fit with dairy farmers’ needs. We wanted to work with the best in the country and saw a unique opportunity to work with Dairy Farmers of America to learn more about how they serve their members in the U.S. and around the globe!
What have you already gotten out of the program?
We’ve found an extremely warm reception by mentors across the Midwest and within the Kansas City region, both in tech and in agriculture technology. Those mentors span from legal to business to agriculture-specific advice and counsel. The feedback we’ve received has helped us refine our business model and focus on delivering practical results right now, even as we’re in the process of finishing and deploying our first revenue-generating product this summer.
We’re also delighted to be able to officially call Dairy Farmer of America a partner! Even in our very first meeting, they brought a significant number of experts to the table to help us understand the practical realities of the dairy industry— especially the industry’s challenges in communicating the many steps they take today to sustainably produce great quality dairy products for consumers.
Lastly, we’ve received phenomenal support from the Sprint Accelerator team in helping us understand any gaps in our plans and helping us to proactively address them so we can grow faster as our team and customer base grows.
We have high interest from innovative food and agriculture companies around the Midwest and the western U.S., particularly in fruit and vegetable industry. We are excited to meet additional partners in the Midwest going forward.
AgVoice will be presenting at our Demo Day, June 27th at the theater in the World War One Museum! Look for registration information soon!