ATFIELD: A Long Journey in a Short Time
Atfiled is an IoT startup aiming to help vine producers from Serbia who gained support from three different programs in 12 months. This is the story about their journey and key lessons they learned.
What does an agtech center of excellence, a state-owned investment fund, and a Swiss investor team have in common? The answer is a Serbian agtech startup that got the attention of all three!
Atfield technologies is an agtech IoT-oriented startup from Bečej, a small town in Serbia. It was founded in 2017, by a team of engineers, with an aim to apply sophisticated sensor systems in the wine production industry.
Their main product: WINESSENSE SENSOR NODE, is an internet of things device. It collects data from the wine field and sends it to a specialized AI algorithm for analysis to prevent disease in wines and help the wine watering cycle. These measures increase yield, minimize losses and hopefully improve the bottom line for wine producers.
Atfield first came to prominence in 2019 when it popped up in the first generation of the BioSense Accelerator in Novi Sad. The team was one of eight teams to participate in the first startup support program offered by the agricultural research institute. According to Vukašin Pejović, one of the co-founders of Atfield, the acceleration program taught them how to use powerful business tools that helped them develop further.
Now, things are clearer. Of all the experts in the program, Ethan Mayers (Swiss EP expert) helped us the most, and we are still in touch with him. He seems to understand our process of customer discovery and interpretation of the discussions with them. Fil Guijarro (another Swiss EP expert) was also great on B2B sales, but at the time, it wasn't clear to us how to sell the idea and not a tangible thing.
Vukašin Pejović, co-founder of Atfield
Just a week before the end of the three-month BioSense accelerator program, Atfield won funds from Serbia Innovation Fund’s Mini Grants Program, a scheme dedicated to young private enterprises engaged in developing technological innovations with a clear market need.
The collaboration between Innovation Fund Serbia and Swiss EP brought Atfield to another Fil Guijarro workshop on sales processes. This time it was much more useful than it had been in earlier development stages and Vukašin is grateful both for Fil’s assistance and for access to the Fund which still helps a lot.
The "fast learning" journey led Atfield back to Swiss EP, this time for the Swiss EP and Efino Investment Readiness Program. The team finished the program as one of three finalists but wasn’t selected for the final round of due diligence training. Still, this was a great learning exercise for the young startup team as the two Efino experts Clara Alonso and Maria Carolina Romero helped them understand how the investment world functions and what they could expect along the way.
After a hectic year (and a half), Vukašin says that one thing he wished he could have done in the beginning was to "talk more to potential customers! Also, read more books, especially ones dealing with topics of interest to us (winegrowing)."
The plan for 2021 is to achieve a repeatable sales business model, "it's our main focus right now," says Vukašin.
In parallel, we are also starting our own, content-based website, and looking for potential investors. We want to work with an investor who understands the agtech industry's dynamics and who can help us discover more versatile sales channels.
Vukašin Pejović, co-founder of Atfield
The team has come a long way since fall 2018 when it joined the BioSense accelerator. With the founders' relentless efforts and rumored increase in Serbia's private investment funds landscape, the future looks very bright for this brilliant startup. We’re sure that our paths will cross again very soon. We look forward to it!