Canadian startups are bringing “dirty tech” industries such as farming and freight into the 21st century with software solutions that are having significant impacts on how businesses are run.
FR8nex, a tracking tool for small to mid-sized manufacturers and distributors, and Farm at Hand, a cloud-based management platform, are two innovative firms making waves in industries ripe for disruption.
Justin Bailie, founder of FR8nex, says dirty tech – technology operating in traditional industries – is starting to shake up the sectors in question.
“Many shippers are just now starting to look at how technology can make their businesses more effective. We are seeing a shift in the demographics of our target customers, and as technology becomes more affordable, it becomes easier for small businesses to use,” he says.
“Part of our role is to educate our clients on how the product can be used to its full potential, and many are amazed when they start using it,” Bailie adds. “It’s a simple tool but it makes a very powerful impact to work flow and the bottom line.
On average, he says, “our clients save an hour each day everyday in time previously spent completing manual tasks – tasks that are now finished with the click of a button.”
The instant communication tools allow users to connect directly to trucking companies, sales staff, and other key personal to have dialogue around the shipment in real time. Before FR8nex, this type of information could only be communicated using phone or email.
The firm’s ambition is to become North America’s leading transportation management system for small to mid-sized businesses. Right now, it has just over 30 customers in the GTA, with new ones signing on weekly. FR8nex, based in Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone for startups, offers a free 30-day trial.
Over at Farm at Hand, based in Vancover, cofounder Kim Keller contends that farmers are ready to embrace tech.
What started as a solution for her family’s farm in Saskatchewan has now grown into a robust farm management tool for farmers everywhere.
“Farmers are very open to innovation that helps their farming operation. Once they see how easy it is to use Farm At Hand and all of the benefits it provides their farm, they are on board. We’ve had farmers purchase their first smart phones because they wanted to use our app,” she says.
The free app is an integrated cloud-based farm management platform that allows users to manage their entire operation, from seed to sale.
“We have over 18,000 farms that have registered to use Farm At Hand to manage their farms,” Keller says, adding that the team is committed to keeping the basic farm management tools free.
“We will be building additional paid tools for the rest of the Ag industry that will complement Farm At Hand and we will do this without compromising the farmers ownership of their data,” she says.