The purpose of the Tech For Good series of interviews is to create a platform that showcases and champions companies, products and technologists who are using technology as a force for positive change in the world.
Rob: My name is Rob Sanders, I am a farmer’s son from the South West, and I founded Glas Data. Glas Data is a tech company that connects and joins agricultural data in order to provide 2 key things:
• Critical warnings and alerts when something goes wrong (money saving).
• Provide insights and optimisations to improve agricultural operations, be this productivity or sustainability (profit increase).
We are unique in our joined up approach. We have no restrictions on the amount, source or structure of the information that is being monitored. This was we are able to offer greater insight and therefore, greater saving or optimisation. Fundamentally we are building an agricultural brain that is capable of creating the perfect environment for the production of any crop.
Rob: As a farmer’s son, and as a lover of the outside world, environment and agriculture, I wanted to create something that could really help the sector at a time when there are enormous pressures to not only be sustainable but also feed more and more people. The predominant problem that we came across, time and time again, was the fragmentation and disjointed nature of information in agriculture. This is a massive blocker to both productivity and sustainability and is a huge time sink for users. We therefore made it our mission to connect information in ag, for the benefit of all.
Rob: The most significant challenge we have faced is access to resource. In order to create a system that is complex enough, under the hood, to combine any different data source you need a huge amount of resource in time and personnel. We have had to avoid simpler “pivots” in order to ensure that the product still fulfils our mission of a connected agricultural sector.
Rob: It seems, post-pandemic, there has been more of an emphasis on quality of life and purpose. Whilst tech start-ups, often cannot pay the wages that larger companies can offer, there are a subset of workers who are still very attracted to spending their time on something they think is worthwhile. If you are to spend 75% of your waking day at work, why not have that work be something that you are passionate about and that makes you feel like you are, in some way, a force for good.
Rob: The main thing I have learnt is that ‘tech for good’ on its own is not good enough. If you want to have the largest impact then you also need to be a commercial success, and to be a commercial success you need to offer a quick and obvious benefit to using your product that is more than just altruistic. Therefore, the most effective ‘tech for good’ will be those products / companies that also offer a highly compelling commercial reason to use them.