Meet Jolene, the female leader of agtech company Urban Tiller in Singapore
Q: Hi Jolene, can you introduce yourself and what you do?
Hi! My name is Jolene. I’m 24 years old and the founder of Urban Tiller Singapore, an AgTech startup that delivers fresh vegetables to consumers within 6-8 hours of harvest.
Q: What makes Urban Tiller stand out as an AgTech service?
We only source from local farmers – fulfilling our proposition of delivering only the most sustainable, fresh, and safe produce to our buyers. We promise maximum freshness, as produce is harvested no more than 8 hours before its delivery to the consumer. This is very important, as vegetables quickly lose their nutritional value. I don’t think many consumers consider this when they purchase their produce. In Singapore, people mostly care about low-cost options found in supermarkets due to price competition. However, food should be valued for more than its cost. It's also important to care about the farmers you source from. Buying locally supports the community and reduces your carbon footprint. Given that we import more than 90% of our food, this is something that all Singaporean consumers should be more mindful of. Importing food also increases the chance of food waste because of accidents occurring during the transportation process. We act as a direct portal between the consumer and the farmer due to a shortened supply chain process. It’s essentially a farm-to-table model. This means your produce is directly supporting local farmers without a string of third-party vendors taking a cut along the way
Q: What advice do you have for young people like you who want to get into the Agriculture or AgTech industry?
I think as a young person you should make a lot of connections, build relationships and work on applying your knowledge. A lot of different types of knowledge are needed in the supply chain of agriculture-related produce and products. Furthermore, a lot of successful people in agriculture are all-rounders since they come from many different backgrounds such as tech and business - you really need to know the science behind growing processes as well the financial aspect of it and the marketing of your product. The future of farming also needs to be sustainable - not only in terms of environmental sustainability but in the way we connect with farmers and consumers. Consumers should be more made aware of where their food actually comes from and remember the farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on the food we consume. Overcoming the supply chain fragmentation is challenging, but it is necessary and beneficial to everyone who is a part of it.
Q: What are your goals for the future and Urban Tiller as a whole?
My goal is to introduce the Urban Tiller model into 30 different Asian cities in the future. I’m also exploring the idea of a WeWork’ for farming so that I can help individuals get their agricultural businesses started. I’ll be able to provide farming expertise and infrastructure – something that’s often seen as a huge cost and a high barrier to entry.
We could potentially work off a monthly subscription, and I will support them with some of the necessities they need to start the business. I think this would really help young entrepreneurs who find themselves intimidated by the prospect of starting a business in agriculture.