June 18, 2024
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Cal Poly SBDC highlights AgTech company as ‘Business of the Year’

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One of Tric Robotics’ tractors bathes crops in ultraviolet light. (courtesy photo)

It has been a steady climb for San Luis Obispo-based TRIC Robotics.

Originally founded in Idaho by CEO Adam Stager, TRIC decided to move to San Luis Obispo in large part because of Cal Poly University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Small Business Development Center — a decision that has come to pay dividends.

From securing some of its first clients in the nearby area to securing some venture capital funding to competing at Cal Poly’s prestigious AngelCon, TRIC has seen some highs.

However, none might be higher than the company accepting the 2024 Cal Poly CIE Small Business Development Center Business of the Year Award for their significant business and technology achievements. 

“The SBDC provided us with the supportive environment that we needed to make our vision for TRIC Robotics a reality. Not only did they introduce us to expert mentors who guided us through various stages of funding, but they also connected us with an incredible community of entrepreneurs who have become our friends,” Stager said in a press release. 

“With the help of the SBDC, we secured grant funding, built compelling pitch decks, and expanded our team from three to over 15. We’re honored to be recognized as the Business of the Year in 2024, and hope we can help others recognize that they can pursue their passions with support of the SBDC.” 

Announced May 16, TRIC Robotics has revolutionized agriculture practices through technology, automation and ultraviolet light to create an efficient alternative to pesticide use. 

In general, the company is accelerating digital farming to deliver a more sustainable future by using chemical-free pest and disease control with ultraviolet light.

According to the press release, TRIC has already been making a difference on the management of strawberry fields, especially on the Central Coast. 

The firm’s large-scale robots have a 40-foot wingspan, operate at night to treat strawberry fields for pests and fungus and use powerful UV light technology and bug vacuums. 

Pest control, in strawberries alone, represents a $250 million market opportunity, the company says in its pitch to investors.

Additionally, the robots can mimic average tractors in their navigation methods and terrain awareness, and in addition, provide better precision and can capture key field data with its software technology. 

Several significant Central California strawberry farmers, where the majority of all US-grown strawberries are cultivated, have been eager to deploy the chemical-free solution to crop pests and are actively partnering with TRIC Robotics and seeing incredible results.

TRIC Robotics has thus far raised more than $3.2 million since its inception from grants, competitions and investors, enough to get the company up and running.

“TRIC Robotics recently completed our two-year Startup Incubator program working closely with our SBDC Consultant team,” Cal Poly CIE SBDC Director Judy Mahan said in a press release. 

“This mission-driven company is thriving on the Central Coast; they have grown their team from two co-founders to 15 employees, expanded into new office and warehouse space, refined their technology and steadily increased sales each quarter. They are on a growth trajectory that we are very proud to celebrate with them today.” 

In an AgTech forum last October, Stager said bringing some of this technology to the field is important because he believes it, along with other emerging technology, can cut down on the need for physical labor and similar things that put a toll on people’s everyday lives.

“I think automation has the ability to really free humanity from a lot of the things that we don’t necessarily need to do,” Stager told the Business Times in October.

“The biggest mission for me is I want everybody to do something that they are passionate about and I think there’s things that hold people back and the cost of food is one of them. So if we can use automation to reduce the cost of food, that will be like the biggest mission, but there are steps to getting there.”

email: jmercado@pacbiztimes.com