Meet the Founder: Fruitminder

Meet Fruitminder founder Sebastian Chapman, a curious software engineer ready to create positive change in the horticulture industry. A member of the Sprout Accelerator Autumn24 Cohort, his venture’s story is rich with experience and discovery. 

While dairy farming in NZ and driving tractors across Australia, Sebastian saw the value of having clear and accurate data at his fingertips via RFID cow tags and GPS monitoring. This data enabled him to monitor the health and well-being of every animal and make informed decisions about the daily care of the land and growing capacity. 

Sebastian’s experience prompted him to ask, "What else can technology do for agriculture?" 

He sat down with orchard owner Mike Casey to learn about the industry and its problems. Mike owns the world's first fossil fuel-free farm, growing cherries near Wanaka. Together, they asked the question, "What is one of the biggest issues facing orchard growers today?" Their conclusion was the lack of consistent, clear, trustworthy data about their trees. 

Fruitminder was born. 

A platform was soon designed to monitor and analyse fruit crop conditions and organise the complexity of a commercial orchard. Every tree has a digital twin that links with a combination of GPS virtual tags and QR codes. Every tree, row, block or orchards data can be digitally collected and analysed, allowing growers to create a customised standard of care and allowing management at the macro and the micro level. 

With in-depth characteristics about their trees, growers can filter phenotype data like fruit counts by age, tree variety, and growing strategy in the palm of their hands. Consequently, growers never lose a bit of information about their orchards or vineyards.

Sebastian contacted a research team at UC-Vision that is working on 3D reconstruction GPS technology. "Their work was incredible. You can see the tree down to the leaf and the fruit bud." The 3d scanning tech deployed on robots allows automation of data input into the system.

During the market research phase of this venture, Sebastian was surprised by the amount of managed land with huge opportunities for increases in productivity and growth.

 "Automation will allow everyone to grow and run a high-quality operation. There will be less reliance on highly skilled labour, and the boots on the ground can be put to better use elsewhere in the operation." 

Sebastian gets the most satisfaction from working with growers and helping them use technology to solve their problems. Last year, he hosted three open days around the country, allowing him to meet with growers face-to-face, hear their stories, and share his vision for Fruitminder and its operations. 

His mission is to revolutionise agricultural practices by developing intelligent solutions. With his agriculture business and economics degrees, he is well-equipped to tackle the challenges facing farmers today.

"My definition of success? On the technical front, building a beautiful, reliable product with elegant, clean code. On the business front, if this technology reduces harmful chemical application through better information and farming practices, that would be great."  

About Sprout: Sprout Agritech LP is an early-stage investor specialising in transformational technologies that impact how life on Earth is nourished and sustained. Through their Sprout Accelerator, they have helped grow more than 110 early-stage ventures within the agri and food industries, which have collectively gone on to raise over $60m in capital.