Innovator Spotlight: PowWow, Water Management Made Easy

Originally posted July 23, 2019 | By The VINE Editorial Team

Olivier Jerphagnon, the founder and CEO of PowWow, and an Industry Partner to the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UC Santa Barbara, was interviewed by the VINE. They discussed Olivier’s connection with the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Research Facility, and his experience and innovation in water management and AgTech. “He explained that forging collaborations and connections between the public and private sector was critical. PowWow provides a water management platform for farms to balance water demand and supply, reduce energy costs, and improve crop yield with data-driven insights.” 


An excerpt:

The technology developed by PowWow in collaboration with the University of California was deployed at an almond orchard near Davis part of a 6,000 acre deployment in 2018. Names from left to right: Stanley Knutson, Director of Software Development at PowWow, Ricardo Neto, Director of Farming at Vann Family Orchards, Jose Baer, Agronomist and Senior Project Mgr. at PowWow, Cameron Boomgaarden, Water & Technology Mgr. at Vann Family Orchards, Olivier Jerphagnon, Chief Executive Officer at PowWow, Blake Vann, Chief Operating Officer at Vann Family Orchards.

The founder of PowWow explains how forging technical collaborations across the UC system and business connections with farms helped this award-winning start-up impact agriculture. We sat down with Olivier Jerphagnon, Founder and CEO of PowWow, to talk about his experience starting a company at the nexus of food, energy, and water. He explained that forging collaborations and connections between the public and private sector was critical. PowWow provides a water management platform for farms to balance water demand and supply, reduce energy costs, and improve crop yield with data-driven insights. The platform is deployed on more than 100,000 acres in California including an almond orchard near Davis managed by Vann Family Orchards.

Olivier logged over 2000,000 miles on his car since he started PowWow in 2013. When asked why he has to travel so much, he simply explains “that’s ag.”  He later expands on this, noting how important it is to build direct connections with people actually working in agriculture. He believes that The VINE initiative at the UC Agricultural and Natural Resources (UC ANR) will make it easier for the next generation of entrepreneurs in Food and Agriculture. There was little support in agriculture technology back when he started the company. He simply started with a few farms and ranches he knew near Sacramento and Santa Barbara. The term “AgTech” did not exist then. By the time Monsanto acquired Climate Corporation and venture capitalists started to talk about AgTech, PowWow had won the Cleantech Open and a working app.

 

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