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Orchard management software helps businesses bloom

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19 October 2020

Fruit growers around the world are making better use of their time, money, and resources thanks to Hectre, an orchard management software co-founded by University of Auckland alumnus Matty Blomfield. Hectre brings to one place a core set of tools designed for growers that are simple to use and accessible for all. Pulling a phone from their back pocket allows growers to record and view all the key information about their orchard, saving time and helping them make informed decisions.

The idea for Hectre stemmed from the identification of a genuine, unsolved problem that growers were facing every day. Prior to Hectre, Matty had co-founded a marketing agency. Here he brought two products to market and came to learn the difference between “a nice to have and a must have.” He says, “Hectre started very differently. It was very focused on finding a real need for a real group of people. It just so happened to be apple growers who had a shared problem that was the manual work involved with tracking labour and bins of picked fruit.”

Six growers paid for Hectre’s product up front before any product development had been done. “That was validation that this is a real need. They wanted it fixed and they were willing to put their money forward for that to happen.” Matty explains that bins of fruit were often manually recorded, a time-consuming process that results in stacks of paper and lost data. “That is an example of one of many areas within the horticulture industry where manual paperwork and data are not connected very well. This really drove our MVP which was a mobile platform and portable Bluetooth printer that allowed for efficient, in-field ticketing of bins.”

The needs of growers remained at the heart of Hectre as the team continued to develop their software. They engage with their customers every day, with Matty estimating that he has already had thousands of conversations with growers around the world. “Fortunately for us, growers are very willing to give feedback and they want to share how things could be done better. So, everything in our product has come from growers at some point or another. They are solutions to real problems that they have encountered.” However, the challenge is navigating their customer feedback and deciding which features to action. “We get requests that differ from market to market. Within countries you have different fruit types and each fruit type has specific requirements. There’s a lot to consider and if you try to be something for everyone, you end up being nothing for anyone.”

Surprisingly, Matty had no experience in horticulture prior to founding Hectre. He says, “Getting to know the industry has been a brilliant journey because it’s like a Pandora’s box of discovery. As you dig a little deeper and learn a bit more, you find out how much you don’t know in terms of what it takes to grow a piece of fruit. I was certainly not aware beforehand of the different bodies involved with providing the service that empowers us to walk into a supermarket and buy a really good looking piece of fruit – good looking in that it has the right density, crunch, colour. How did that happen? These things are fascinating to me.”

Matty hopes that products like Hectre will ultimately contribute to a more sustainable industry. Empowering small and medium growers to continue to be able to operate results in more locally produced food that is not having to travel as many miles to get to the supermarket. This allows for more diversity on the shelves which is beneficial from a micronutrient perspective for consumers. Cost wise, supporting growers facilitates competition which translates to more affordable food. He says, “There’s different ways of looking at sustainability and I think what we’re doing contributes in some small way to each of these areas. It’s not just about reducing your carbon footprint – mental wellness and kaitiakitanga are critical too.”

Being an entrepreneur has been a great fit for Matty, but he acknowledges that it may not be for everyone. “I have always been more inclined to do my own thing. I think I have a tendency to be a rule breaker and to want to be able to change things. I think these are factors that have made entrepreneurship a better path for me personally. I’ve never been so challenged on a regular basis in my life and I would not trade that for anything. There’s always more to learn and develop and grow when you go down this path. I feel like I’m a better person as a result because I’m constantly having to push my own boundaries. That’s a big highlight for me.”

Matty participated in the Velocity entrepreneurship programme when he was at university and has since been back to the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to speak to the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs. He advises students who may be curious about entrepreneurship to ask themselves “why?” He says, “I think it’s important to evaluate that question properly because it’s certainly not glamorous or the ‘better’ path. It’s just a path. Fortunately, it’s a great path that I’ve loved, but it’s not necessarily the right one for everybody. It’s hard, and you will run into adversity, so it’s really important to be doing it for the right reasons. But if you are, and you do take it, then it can be the most beautiful journey.”

Hectre is always on the lookout for talented and enthusiastic people to join their team, including graduate developers. If this is you, email jobs@hectre.com.

Nicholas Bing
Nicholas Bing

social media

19 October 2020

Fruit growers around the world are making better use of their time, money, and resources thanks to Hectre, an orchard management software co-founded by University of Auckland alumnus Matty Blomfield. Hectre brings to one place a core set of tools designed for growers that are simple to use and accessible for all. Pulling a phone from their back pocket allows growers to record and view all the key information about their orchard, saving time and helping them make informed decisions.

The idea for Hectre stemmed from the identification of a genuine, unsolved problem that growers were facing every day. Prior to Hectre, Matty had co-founded a marketing agency. Here he brought two products to market and came to learn the difference between “a nice to have and a must have.” He says, “Hectre started very differently. It was very focused on finding a real need for a real group of people. It just so happened to be apple growers who had a shared problem that was the manual work involved with tracking labour and bins of picked fruit.”

Six growers paid for Hectre’s product up front before any product development had been done. “That was validation that this is a real need. They wanted it fixed and they were willing to put their money forward for that to happen.” Matty explains that bins of fruit were often manually recorded, a time-consuming process that results in stacks of paper and lost data. “That is an example of one of many areas within the horticulture industry where manual paperwork and data are not connected very well. This really drove our MVP which was a mobile platform and portable Bluetooth printer that allowed for efficient, in-field ticketing of bins.”

The needs of growers remained at the heart of Hectre as the team continued to develop their software. They engage with their customers every day, with Matty estimating that he has already had thousands of conversations with growers around the world. “Fortunately for us, growers are very willing to give feedback and they want to share how things could be done better. So, everything in our product has come from growers at some point or another. They are solutions to real problems that they have encountered.” However, the challenge is navigating their customer feedback and deciding which features to action. “We get requests that differ from market to market. Within countries you have different fruit types and each fruit type has specific requirements. There’s a lot to consider and if you try to be something for everyone, you end up being nothing for anyone.”

Surprisingly, Matty had no experience in horticulture prior to founding Hectre. He says, “Getting to know the industry has been a brilliant journey because it’s like a Pandora’s box of discovery. As you dig a little deeper and learn a bit more, you find out how much you don’t know in terms of what it takes to grow a piece of fruit. I was certainly not aware beforehand of the different bodies involved with providing the service that empowers us to walk into a supermarket and buy a really good looking piece of fruit – good looking in that it has the right density, crunch, colour. How did that happen? These things are fascinating to me.”

Matty hopes that products like Hectre will ultimately contribute to a more sustainable industry. Empowering small and medium growers to continue to be able to operate results in more locally produced food that is not having to travel as many miles to get to the supermarket. This allows for more diversity on the shelves which is beneficial from a micronutrient perspective for consumers. Cost wise, supporting growers facilitates competition which translates to more affordable food. He says, “There’s different ways of looking at sustainability and I think what we’re doing contributes in some small way to each of these areas. It’s not just about reducing your carbon footprint – mental wellness and kaitiakitanga are critical too.”

Being an entrepreneur has been a great fit for Matty, but he acknowledges that it may not be for everyone. “I have always been more inclined to do my own thing. I think I have a tendency to be a rule breaker and to want to be able to change things. I think these are factors that have made entrepreneurship a better path for me personally. I’ve never been so challenged on a regular basis in my life and I would not trade that for anything. There’s always more to learn and develop and grow when you go down this path. I feel like I’m a better person as a result because I’m constantly having to push my own boundaries. That’s a big highlight for me.”

Matty participated in the Velocity entrepreneurship programme when he was at university and has since been back to the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to speak to the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs. He advises students who may be curious about entrepreneurship to ask themselves “why?” He says, “I think it’s important to evaluate that question properly because it’s certainly not glamorous or the ‘better’ path. It’s just a path. Fortunately, it’s a great path that I’ve loved, but it’s not necessarily the right one for everybody. It’s hard, and you will run into adversity, so it’s really important to be doing it for the right reasons. But if you are, and you do take it, then it can be the most beautiful journey.”

Hectre is always on the lookout for talented and enthusiastic people to join their team, including graduate developers. If this is you, email jobs@hectre.com.


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