The ‘Granddaddy’ of all business plan competitions, the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, has selected a crop analytics business plan as the winner. The Robert P. Goldberg $100,000 grand prize winner was awarded to Raptor Maps – a startup drone technology business with the goal of feeding a growing world population. The team, consisting of three PhD candidates from MIT, beat out seven other finalist teams offering projects such as underwater robots and a new technology for treating inoperable tumors.
A panel of judges made up of venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, and industry professionals said they chose Raptor Maps based on the strength of their technology, business plan, pitch, and team composition.
According to the World Wildlife Foundation, agriculture is the largest industry in the world. Yet a staggering one-third of all crops planted annually are destroyed by diseases, pests, and insects. [Source: Plant Pathology by George N. Agrios]
Raptor Maps uses proprietary multispectral imaging that scans large areas of farmland and, with the use of analytics, pinpoints crop damage before pests and diseases can spread. This enables focused pesticide application, which increases crop yields while reducing environmental impact.
Initially the team contemplated selling their drone system. “But by engaging with farmers and other clients, we realized they cared far more about obtaining data than operating drones,” says Vadhavkar. “Now, with the help of the MIT $100K Competition, we will be able to deliver our services where they are needed the most.”