Lincoln, Nebraska - In the heart of the Midwest, amidst the plains of Nebraska, one entrepreneur is redefining ranching and agriculture through technology. We had the privilege of speaking with Jack, the founder of Corral, a company that is making waves in the world of Agtech.
The Journey Begins:
Jack's story is rooted in his upbringing on a ranch in North Central Nebraska. With 300 head of cattle and a deep connection to the land, he grew up witnessing the challenges and rewards of ranching. However, as he spent summers and weekends working on the ranch, he began to realize that he didn't love all aspects of the labor-intensive lifestyle.
His journey into Agtech began with a simple idea from his father during a fence-fixing expedition - "Wouldn't it be nice if we had invisible fences for cows, like the ones we use for dogs?" This sparked a seed of innovation in Jack's mind, and it would eventually lead to the birth of Corral.
From Idea to Reality:
Jack's entrepreneurial journey took a few twists and turns. He initially explored concepts like spot and spray drones, but his heart was always set on virtual fencing. It wasn't until his junior year of college that he fully committed to the idea. Armed with technical knowledge gained from classes in mechatronics and coding, he began developing the concept.
After joining The Combine in August 2020, Jack received valuable coaching on how to run a business and prioritize tasks. He secured grants and funding, and upon graduating, he dove headfirst into Corral. The company evolved rapidly, securing a prototype grant and raising multiple rounds of funding.
The Challenges of Development:
Building virtual fencing technology for the harsh and dynamic environment of cattle ranches presented its share of challenges. The hardware had to withstand enduring the rough treatment of cattle. The development process demanded substantial capital, time, and problem-solving, making it one of Corral’s most significant hurdles.
The Nebraska Advantage:
Jack emphasized the crucial role Nebraska has played in Corral’s journey. The state's supportive ecosystem, grants, and funding opportunities were instrumental in getting the company off the ground. Nebraska's diverse agricultural landscape also provided an ideal testing ground for Corral's technology, from eastern Nebraska's smaller pastures to the vast expanses of western Nebraska.
What's Next for Corral:
Currently, Corral is in the midst of hiring new team members, including sales representatives and a front-end engineer. At the time of speaking, the company was gearing up to roll out its virtual fencing devices, with plans to deploy 1,700 devices this fall and 16,000 next spring. Beyond virtual fencing, Corral aims to delve into analytics to provide ranchers with valuable insights for decision-making.
Words of Wisdom for Agtech Entrepreneurs:
Jack's best piece of advice for those looking to build an Agtech business is to utilize available resources fully. Recognize that you may not have all the answers, and be open to learning from others. Whether it's engaging with experienced entrepreneurs, ranchers, or experts in various fields, leveraging resources can significantly accelerate your journey.
As Corral continues to innovate and make strides in the Agtech industry, it's clear that Jack's dedication, Nebraska's support, and commitment to leveraging knowledge and resources have set the stage for a promising future in ranching and agriculture. Corral's journey is not just a story of technology; it's a story of passion, perseverance, and the transformation of an industry.
What is The Combine?
Invest Nebraska's Combine Incubator is a statewide initiative focused on supporting high-growth agri-food entrepreneurs through mentoring, commercialization support, physical incubation space on Nebraska's Innovation Campus, and a network of helping farmers and ranchers across the state. Invest Nebraska is a private, non-profit statewide venture development organization focused on high-growth companies in Nebraska and growing the state's entrepreneurial economy. Invest Nebraska works directly with entrepreneurs, researchers, and companies to help commercialize their technologies, launch and grow new businesses, and access needed capital.