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Why startups flock to John Deere?

Peter van den Hoek (Netherlands)
AgriFood & FoodTech
September 22, 2021

John Deere is a company I have admired since I was a kid.

My fascination for the iconic colors green and yellow carried by this major American manufacturer of farm machinery is rooted in a father who worked his whole professional career representing this brand.

Today, I value this company for its innovative power.

Last month Deere acquired Bear Flag Robotics, an agriculture technology startup based in Silicon Valley. Bear Flag's technology enables a machine to work in a field autonomously, saving labor costs while increasing performance.

We know that only 1 out of 6 startups is open to meeting with enterprises because of the perceived slowness and poor preparation. And, sadly, still the wrong mindset.

What does John Deere do to make itself an attractive partner for collaboration?

In 2019 John Deere launched the Startup Collaborator program. Each year a cohort of 4 startups is included in this program.

The focus for the Startup Collaborator is specifically on startups that want to work with John Deere in real-world customer environments to determine the technology readiness of their innovations.

The Startup Collaborator allows Deere and startups to test innovative technologies with customers and dealers without a more formal business relationship. Startups also gain affiliation with and mentoring from an industry leader in precision agriculture.

In my work advising startups in Agritech, I believe in building relationships. Supported by a structured and repeatable startup discovery management process, John Deere knows what it takes to find willing and fitting startups.

Who follows suit?

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