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Coverage of top innovators and technology trends from across The FutureList community

BX’s AI and SaaS Tech Measures Carbon for Farmers

In this Q&A, Kimeshan Naidoo, CTO of BX, discusses the role of technology in combating climate change and how his company is using AI and SaaS technology to enable farmers to store more carbon than they produce during food production. He shares his insights on leadership and innovation, and how his experience in the edtech sector has influenced BX’s tech direction. Naidoo also talks about the challenges he faced transitioning from edtech to agtech and environmental sectors and how to incorporate climate-conscious strategies into any business. Finally, he shares BX’s plans and innovations for the next 2-5 years, including their goal to reduce emissions from agriculture and expand to have 10 million acres on their platform.

The FutureList: Can you give a brief overview of the technology that BX uses to enable farmers to store more carbon than they produce during food production?

Kimeshan Naidoo: BX provides a platform that measures the carbon/kg of product for farmers, thereafter we provide an AI-assisted continuous improvement plan with clear action items for farmers to implement that will reduce the carbon/kg for farmers, and finally we allow farmers to sell this reduction as a insured, verified carbon inset (similar to a carbon credit) which funds their transition.

The FutureList: How does BX’s work reflect your personal belief in the role of technology in combating climate change?

Kimeshan Naidoo:Technology is about solving old problems with new solutions and methodologies. If we are to solve climate change, we have to change our ways – we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing in the last 100 years. BX is bringing SaaS technology and AI to one of the oldest industries in the world – agriculture so it aligns perfectly with my believe that we will solve old problems with new technologies.

The FutureList: How has your experience co-founding Unibuddy, an edtech startup, shaped your approach to innovation and leadership at BX?

Kimeshan Naidoo:The best way to describe it is that I see everything happening in slow motion. That’s the biggest benefit of being in an early-stage startup the second time around. I now know what to expect, I’ve seen most of the problems before and I’m more confident in my ability to solve them quickly.  I think my approach is a lot calmer at BX because I know we’re on a journey and it takes time to reach product-market fit and become a well-oiled machine.  You need to take your company and your team through that journey that’s described well in the Tuckman Performance model which is forming, storming, norming and performing. Don’t give up when you’re in the forming and storming stage which can be tough!

The FutureList: Given your background across various sectors, what unique insights have you brought to BX and how have they influenced the company’s tech direction?

Kimeshan Naidoo: My key insight is narrowing the scope of a product or solution in order to get something out to market quickly. I’ve seen over-engineering and massively scoped products cause companies to fail too many times. My superpower has always been execution. Let’s take an idea to the customer’s hands as quickly as possible and then learn from them to build a product that they can’t live without.

The FutureList: You’ve transitioned from the edtech sector to the agtech and environmental sector. Can you discuss some of the challenges you faced during this transition, and how you overcame them?

Kimeshan Naidoo: The key challenge is understanding the industry problems and the new space. Coming from EdTech, I had zero domain knowledge about climate tech. So I needed to be a sponge and learn from everyone around me – the team at BX, our customers, investors, and anyone else in the space. You can transition to any sector if you’re willing to listen, learn and constantly grow. 

The FutureList: How does BX utilize the data it collects from its carbon tracking? Are there any significant findings or trends you’ve identified that could shape the future of sustainable farming?

Kimeshan Naidoo: The key data that we collect is soil analysis data which allows us to measure the carbon stock that is sequestered in the ground.  What is surprising is how big a difference the soil organic carbon % in the soil can be depending on the soil health. This means that by improving soil health, we can significantly increase the carbon sequestered and thus reduce the carbon in the atmosphere that contributes to climate change.

The FutureList: In your opinion, how can other tech startups incorporate climate-conscious strategies into their businesses, even if their main focus is not on the environment?

Kimeshan Naidoo: If you don’t measure something, you will never improve it. So the first step for any company is to understand where they are and what are their biggest contributors to carbon or emissions. From there, it’s a matter of identifying the low hanging fruit and implementing a sort of continuous improvement plan – like we do with farmers.

The FutureList: Can you tell us more about the greatest success you’ve had at BX so far, and what it meant to you on a personal level?

Kimeshan Naidoo: We have had a lot of traction and momentum in the last 6 months, on both the customer and product side. We’ve onboarded over 10,000 acres of farms in Washington state in the US consisting of apple and hop farms, and we’ve launched a brand new API platform, data infrastructure and two new web applications – a Farmer app and a Customer app!

The FutureList: Looking ahead, what are some of the exciting plans or innovations we can expect from BX in the next 2-5 years?

Kimeshan Naidoo: Our first goal is to onboard 100,000 acres of farmland and increase the carbon sequestered across this space. We are focussed on Apples and Hops right now but we will be expanding to other crops as well. In 5 years time, I would expand us to have 10 million acres on the platform and dozens of crops. The biggest goal for me? We would be able to show that we’ve reduced emissions from agriculture by a % point. This would mean we’ve done more than most countries in fixing climate change.

Find BX on the FutureList here.