For those who know our alumni well, but may not be up to date with their latest news, you might well be asking the question ‘Who’s BuzzTech?’
This company was formerly known as BeezThingz, but soon realised once finishing the Sprout agritech accelerator programme that their two business offerings were in fact quite different.
CEO Julian McCurdy said “Through the Sprout process we realised we needed two businesses – one for the rental of beehives and one for the hardware & software for the hives. This is why we have a new name and new website under the name BuzzTech.
BeezThingz is still in operation but this is now focused on being a match making business for Beekeepers and land owners. BuzzTech focuses on the development, delivery and sales of beekeeping products such as software & sensors.”
BeezThingz now has a CEO in place who is running the business full time and managing it from day to day, while Julian still remains part of the company as Managing Director.
Julian has stepped into the role of BuzzTech CEO and has appointed five Board of Directors, including himself.
- Karl Gradon is the Chairman and CEO of NZ Manuka Group,
- James McCarthy, Founder of Spider Tracks,
- Bruce Clow, a BuzzTech distributor, and
- Commercial honey exporter and beekeeper Richard Barley from Hawke’s Bay.
These board members were selected based on their experience in the industry and relevance to the company’s objectives.
Investment wasn’t easy
When the team finished the programme in March they hadn't completed their capital raising. In the following months the Sprout team worked hard to continue to connect the company with investors and provided deal management services, resulting in BuzzTech completing their first investment round in June 2016.
Once the money was received this allowed them to accelerate the delivery of phase one but it also bought about personnel changes within the company. Fellow founding team member Peter Bennett made the decision to exit the business shortly after they finished the programme in April, because the role that was shaping up in front of him wasn’t one he felt he could fulfil.
BuzzTech's relationships gain momentum
BuzzTech have recently established a relationship with an Auckland electronics company who are completing all the development of their hive sensors. Since presenting version 1.1 at the Agribusiness showcase, they’ve moved onto version 2.3. By November they’ll have manufactured 200 units for their pilot phase, with the aim of increasing the number of pilots over the coming months.
When it comes to software development, Julian has been working with the team at Rezare in Hamilton. They’ve already completed phase one of their software development, having received a UAT release last week. This will be made available to the public at the end of November.
The end of November signifies the end of Phase 1 and a significant milestone for the company.
Phase 2 is in the pipeline and Julian says the company’s main focus is around building the relationships with the companies they’ve already engaged in the process.
It hasn’t been plain sailing all the time since April. Building two businesses side by side has definitely had its challenges. According to Julian finding the right price point for Beekeepers has definitely been the hardest challenge to date.
“It hasn’t been easy working with a Board of Directors either. Having to prepare board papers and making it efficient, making them happy etc. is something I definitely wasn’t prepared for,’ jokes Julian.
“I’ve got my presentation nailed now – 35 slides, a few bullet points and loads of discussion!”
They’ve continued to keep their feedback loop open, with 30 commercial operations interviewed to further find out about their problems.
They’ve gained valuable insights for the BuzzTech business, identifying that for Beekeeping operations to start using sensors they needed operational software, as data management is key. This has led the team to change their sales focus from being on the hardware to the software.
This feedback has also meant they’re looking at delivering GPS based trackers (based on satellite tracking,) low cost Bluetooth inventory management devices (planted inside the frame of the hive,) hive security software, inventory management software and hive health sensors.
All of these products solve problems found out through market validation.
The immediate next step for the company is to drive sales and acquire customers through the delivery of a new website and acquisition tools.
For more you can contact Julian on 027 861 5084 or Julian@buzztech.nz