Tambero CEO says: "There was no Salesforce or Oracle for cows…"

We catch-up with Eddie Rodríguez von der Becke who founded Argentinian startup Tambero, free software for rural farmers

“A few years ago I was chatting with my wife – whose family has farms – and we found that truly global software for farms didn’t exist,” says Eddie Rodríguez von der Becke, founder and CEO of Tambero. “There was no Salesforce or Oracle for cows. There was no farming applications for smartphones. So I quit my job and started this project.”

At the time Becke was living in Uruguay and leading IT projects across the continent for Uruguayan firm, Buxis [Spanish language]. In order to launch the company in 2011, he had a complete change, and moved to the rural north Argentinian town of Morteros.

Tambero – which means “dairy farmer” in Spanish – is a free, cloud-based system for global farmers.  Currently used in over 150 countries, the aim is to help those in isolated areas use technology to improve their yield. It offers mobile cattle management, analytical reports and also an API [launched in 2014] that allows other agritech startups to integrate with the platform.

As Becke explains to us scientific knowledge on agriculture and cattle management have made a lot of progress during the last 50 years. Yet small farmers in developing countries have not been able to access this knowledge.

“In some regions of the world farmers still work as 3000 years ago and this is very inefficient, harmful to the soil and not sustainable,” he says.

And besides, even if farmers can get hold of the necessary agricultural know-how, complicated processes often make it hard to implement. This means that Tambero can help both large and small farms, says Becke. Large farms “can optimise their production with data analytics”. While small farms can increase their production through healthy and sustainable best practice.

The company has already received a lot of positive press attention. In 2013 Forbes listed it as one of its “Hottest Global Startups” of the year. Fast Company selected it as one of the most innovative Latin American companies of 2015. And last year, Facebook included it in its Internet.org program in Colombia, making it part if the free internet package for poor Colombians.

When we ask how this came about, Becke explains, he was in Silicon Valley for what turned out to be an unsuccessful interview with early stage funding venture, Y Combinator. However, he managed to set up a meeting with Internet.org while he was in the region.

“We met at the offices of Facebook and when they saw Tambero they knew it had the potential to be applied worldwide,” he says. “We shared the same vision about the simplicity of use, low consumption data, and the app was designed to operate in poor environments like slow connections and feature phones.”

The aim of the solution is to help people in agriculture across the globe. But in the beginning the majority of the traction came from Latin America and the English-speaking countries, because the system was only available in Spanish and English. However, since over 20 new languages were added the system last year, global adoption has increased very quickly.

“Today we have a lot of growth in unexpected places like Iraq, Benin and Liberia, while the system continues to add users consistently in the United States, Europe, India, Pakistan and Latin America,” clarifies Becke.

“I remember the first time I received a message from shepherds in Mongolia using the app,” he adds as a personal highlight.

The next stage for the company is to raise VC funding to accelerate growth and improve the platform. The company also has imminent plans to release new versions for all mobile systems along with Premium and Enterprise versions in different countries.

“We want to become the first global app for farming,” he says, adding that he sees living in Argentina as a benefit.

“Argentinian entrepreneurs are very dynamic, because in our economy we learned to adapt quickly to the permanent crisis and changing rules to survive,” he says. “This makes our startups strongest when they exceed the initial stage with a great survival ability.

“Gradually we are beginning to understand that we have the knowledge and ability to deliver comprehensive solutions that focus on both developed and developing countries – we understand both worlds and that's a big plus.”

Becke has high hopes for the government and anticipates a more mature space with the promise of the reduction of some of the current legal barriers.

“Soon you will see a lot of great startups from Argentina reaching a global scale,” he concludes.