Business In:Brief with John Fargher (AgriWebb)
Co-founder of AgriWebb – 2014-present
John Fargher is the co-founder of AgriWebb, the Aussie startup that's digitising the agricultural sector. Since its launch in 2014, AgriWebb has become the world's leading farm management software. It leverages data to increase on-farm productivity, traceability and sustainability, while delivering vast improvements in food production and helping to improve the management of over 10 million animals.
John was raised on his family's 400,000-acre sheep and cattle station in northern South Australia, where his love for agriculture, innovation and entrepreneurship began. Over the years, he studied at the University of Adelaide and Indiana University in the USA, where he earned a Double Degree – Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Geographical and Environmental Studies). Find out more about John below.
What's your proudest achievement?
Creating a tool which is helping to improve the lives of thousands of farmers across the globe is a big achievement for me. Utilising generations worth of knowledge from my family's 400,000-acre sheep and cattle station in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia, and merging this with my love for innovation and entrepreneurship is something I'm really proud of. Bringing technology to the livestock industry and driving increased farm efficiency and productivity for our 5,000 global customers is what makes this all worth it.
What's something that you have learned in business that took you by surprise?
The most important thing I've learned is to find work that you love. If you do this, you'll avoid getting caught up in the divide between work and life. While I believe there needs to be a balance in business, the balance does not need to be placed into separate boxes, and this is helped if you do something you love.
When starting a business, it can feel all consuming, but the most important thing is that you have time for your family, you stay fit, healthy, are happy in what you do, and are able to prioritise these things accordingly. Life is too short to do something you don't enjoy.
How do you plan on growing your business in the near future?
Through the AgriWebb platform, we currently manage $46.5 billion in agricultural assets in Australia alone, and this is on the rise. Agtech investment is vital to Australia's economic growth and technology is playing a key role in this.
In 2018, we secured an investment from Wheatsheaf Group and acquired FarmWizard, a UK provider of livestock and dairy management software, to support the development of our technology. Since then, we've expanded our team across Australia and now have an office in the UK as well as the US.
We're laser-focused on our mission to lead the digital future of agriculture with technology and data-driven solutions, and are committed to supporting farmers across the globe.
What other business leader do you most admire and why?
Bill Gates – I have so much respect for him and all his achievements. I also envy the number of books he reads and would love to read as much as he does.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
It comes back to doing something that you're truly passionate about. I love what I do and in all honesty, I don't find working a chore. My life is working to live out our AgriWebb mission.
Naturally, at times, I prefer some tasks over others, but I don't get caught up in the extreme highs or lows which means I'm consistently on a balanced trajectory.
The other secret is exercise – if I don't do this, I can't and don't enjoy working long hours. It also helps to clear the mind, allowing me to think about the bigger picture and the purpose behind it all.
What advice would you pass on to someone starting out in your area?
Looking specifically at the agriculture industry, I've learned that you need to be a jack of all trades, something that most people don't realise. Those in agriculture need to some extent be: business savvy, scientists, agronomists, animal experts, environmentalists, people managers, good with their hands and good at fixing things. Ultimately, they need to be innovative.
I would argue that if a farmer isn't innovative in their business, they may not be in business for very long. Dealing with changes in climatic conditions, commodities prices and all the other risks that face these businesses, innovation is vital.
My advice to those starting out in this area is to never shy away from innovation – it's how we keep moving things forward and making a real change in the world.
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