Not Your Average Farm
I spent a few days visiting H-Farm in the countryside near Venice. Needless to say, I didn’t want to leave. H-Farm is nothing less than amazing — the founding story, mission and campus will impress. But what is it exactly? Part startup accelerator / incubator, part corporate innovation centre and part school — all sharing one stunning campus. The accelerator, run by the talented Tim O’Connell, has several programs and themes including Industry 4.0, IoT, Food, Wellness, Travel and Fashion. Startups move into H-Farm, have meals prepared for them and benefit from all the activities that are going on at any given moment. Flush with cash after recently going public, H-Farm is growing its footprint, starting a University and ramping up its global presence.
But can H-Farm actually help produce the next generation of game changing European startups? It’s likely too early to tell, but the raw material seems to be there.
Here are a few notable companies that I met at H-Farm:
- OriginTrail: With more and more uncertainty as to where our food actually comes from, OriginTrail uses blockchain technology to provide a transparent and verified account of the entire supply chain. Partnering with producers, distributors, importers and retailers, OriginTrail is able to capture real time data used to ensure authenticity. Similar to Food Blockchain XYZ, access to transparent information around food is increasingly important.
- Zooppa: Incubated at the H-Farm in 2008, Zooppa is a global network for creative talent that partners with brands and agencies to launch crowdsourced projects. With 400k+ creatives worldwide and customers such as Nike, Disney and Ogilvy, Zooppa is not much of startup at first glance. However, with a fresh CEO and new growth objectives, Zooppa is back to its startup roots. Keep on eye on this one.
- Travel Appeal: At first I was skeptical to meet with yet another travel app startup, but TA has a differentiated product based on their years of data collection and sophisticated back-end. The product is designed to help restaurants and hotels aggregate social reviews and more interestingly, provide insights on how to react / improve based on the data.
- H-Farm’s robust community of startups and corporates is the perfect testing ground to incubate new companies and concepts. Take Wethod, a beautifully designed, intuitive product planning and reporting tool that was developed internally after using existing and inadequate options. I’m excited to see where the founder, Tomas, takes this.