Thursday, August 16

How A Farming Accident Led One Founder To Create PicMi – A Platform Connecting Growers With Seasonal Workers

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PicMi is a startup born out of a personal story for the founder Genevieve. It was two years ago when a tractor accident changed her life and led her on the journey to create PicMi, a platform that connects growers to short term workers.

As Genevieve explains her story starts at her family’s Kiwifruit Orchard where her father ran the family’s business without incident until he was serious injured in a tractor accident on their farm. As a result of the accident he was out of action for months and Genevieve was forced to step up and run the families Kiwifruit orchard.

This may not sound like too much of a change, but Genevieve didn’t have an existing role on the farm, she had been worked as a Designer in France for a couple of years. Flying back to New Zealand and stepping in to run the farms operation Genevieve found that she needed to find enough workers to help during the one of the busiest times of the year or they would risk losing the whole crop.

As Genevieve went on to explain “I literally ran around the different backpacker hostels and other orchards recruiting works to come and help me out. It took hours and I couldn’t get the workers when I needed them”. Not only was this incredibly stressful but Genevieve knew there had to be a better way.

For people outside of the agricultural industry it would be easy to think this was a one off situation. But as Genevieve went onto explain it is a recurring problem that affects more than just their orchard. For example, “last month, Jacinda Arden declared a nation labour shortage in the kiwifruit industry. The industry makes up more than a third of New Zealand’s horticultural GDP but growers are struggling to find short-term workers to support seasonal work. Likewise, the seasonal workers struggle to keep track of where the work is happening.”

With a personal connection to the issue and an understanding of how widespread this problem had become Genevieve set off to create PicMi. As she explains “PiCMi is still at the very beginning of its journey”. It was only recently that she was accepted into the Xcelerator program in Sydney. Before joining the program Genevieve explained it as a “napkin idea” but she is now excited to see just how big it can become with the support of Xcelerate and the mentorship made available to the startups participating.

While it is early in the journey at Xcelerate it really has been a whirlwind experience. In fact, it was only two days prior to the submission date that Genevieve was encouraged to apply by one of her good friends. Then once she was accepted she only had three working days to get everything sorted and land in Sydney. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her family, friends and partner.

Entering Xcelerate, run by BlueChilli, has already provided a mountain of value to Genevieve and PiCMi. In particular, Genevieve says “the mentors, the team and the expertise they all have in the startup world is incredible. Their support is going to help propel me in the right direction and avoid me going down unnecessary rabbit holes”.

Looking to the future Genevieve says “you just have to go for it”. While she is open about being at the start of her journey she is excited at the prospect of the pilot programs they are looking to run in New Zealand. The next few months will therefore be focused on talking to customers, testing, prototyping and validating before they start to build. By September they aim to have their first MVP in the market.

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