Does the real opportunity for tech entrepreneurs lie in the agriculture sector? An article by James Fallows looking at Fresno’s startup community for the Atlantic Magazine suggests that might be the case.
Fresno, in California’s agricultural Central Valley, doesn’t have the glamor of the global startup centres but offers a focus on neglected sectors as Fallows quotes Jake Soberal of Bitwise Industries.
“My guess is that 5 to 10 percent of the tech need of the farming industry is now being met,” Fallows quotes Soberal as saying. “You could build a technology industry in Fresno based on that alone, not to mention the worldwide need in agriculture.”
While there isn’t a great need for another coffee app, pizza delivery service or online store, there are far more opportunities in other sectors to address unmet needs.
This is probably where the opportunity lies for cities like Fresno that are trying to create their own mini Silicon Valley – build a technology sector to address the needs of your existing industrial base.
In agriculture there’s a plethora of Internet of Things, Big Data, analytics and other technological applications that addresses issues in the industry. Farming is not the only sector which presents these opportunities.
Fresno’s ambitions aren’t unique but as Fallows points out this is not a zero sum game and there’s no reason why dozens of cities shouldn’t be able to build their own niches with new technologies.