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Burch&Co is proud to work with a diverse range of clients, from founders and startups to large ASX-listed companies. Each client is valued equally, reflecting our human-centric approach, maintaining meaningful relationships with the people making up the companies.
Our Client Showcase series aims to highlight where our clients are making a difference, whether through consumer product innovation or driving positive community impact. One common thread between them all is that they are great people doing great things.
Start Smart – Burch&Co goes rural with Smart Paddock
Enter Smart Paddock. An Australian founded, owned and operated business breaking down barriers and solving complex issues when it comes to livestock monitoring, constantly innovating and developing exciting new technologies to benefit the industry.
Burch&Co’s relationship with Smart Paddock was borne out of the firm’s partnership with LaunchVic which kicked off in 2017 and has seen the team provide pro-bono legal advice to start-up founders for the past seven years.
Burch&Co Director, Nich, first encountered Founder of Smart Paddock, Darren Wolchyn, following a LaunchVic funded presentation to founders that Nich had delivered in 2018. The business’ agritech focus struck a chord with Nich, whose upbringing in rural Victoria prompted a personal connection with the ideas behind Smart Paddock during its early capital raising phase.
Smart Paddock was developed from the simple demand for a GPS-enabled tag to track livestock movements in regional Australia. The initial product offering was an ear-tag designed for cattle; technological developments have since enabled the product to evolve, integrating its technology with animal behaviour analysis to develop a dashboard that offers more insight into the quality of the environment and welfare of the livestock.
Still in its early stages in 2018, the processes involved in raising capital at that point were relatively simple. It wasn’t until 2021, when Smart Paddock entered its second investment round, that Darren approached Burch&Co to engage legal counsel and support for the more complicated process involved at this stage.
During this initial engagement, Darren’s primary challenge was balancing variable stakeholder demands and navigating matters of corporate governance as more shareholders invested in the start-up. As different types of investors became involved, the process of investment negotiations became more difficult for Darren to negotiate without expert support.
Initially, Burch&Co supported Smart Paddock through these complex negotiations, including subscriptions for shares and assistance with the successful completion of its seed round capital raise. Understanding Darren’s challenges in facing unfamiliar business processes and demands from potential investors, Burch&Co was able to help organise priorities, setting a long-term strategic timeline to make the process more manageable.
From this positive first engagement, Smart Paddock entered into a longer-term arrangement with Burch&Co to assist with the ongoing complexities of its development. This included funding assistance, negotiating terms with potential investors, drafting essential documents and agreements, amendments to governance documents, and supporting through the protection of key intellectual property assets.
One key component of Burch&Co’s services for Smart Paddock has been managing obligations to some of its primary stakeholders, Telstra’s Muru-D accelerator program and the Melbourne based Skalata Ventures.
As Smart Paddock continued to grow, developing an investment partnership with government-funded investment fund, Breakthrough Victoria, the firm’s agile Start-up and Capital team has adapted to cater to the new demands of its investors. This has included helping to implement policies and practices around diversity inclusion and recruitment, as well as developing an IP commercialisation strategy to protect Smart Paddock’s product design through patenting.
Founder and Director at Burch & Co, Nicholas Burch, said:
“It’s been such a rewarding journey working with Smart Paddock from an early stage in its development, seeing the business and Darren’s. confidence in the space continue to grow.
“Agritech is an industry that hits close to home for a number of our team, including our core leadership, growing up in regional communities or with family connections to the land. It’s been a passion project for us since the beginning, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping such an innovative and revolutionary concept make it to market.”
Working with Smart Paddock since the company’s early stages, Burch&Co’s person-first approach enabled the team to become an extension of Darren’s team, building a strong working relationship with an understanding of his needs as a business owner. Establishing that relationship early on has created a strong level of trust so that, as a small business owner, Darren has been able to depend on the firm as the needs of his business have evolved.
Founder and Director at Smart Paddock, Darren Wolchyn, added:
“Engaging with the team at Burch&Co has been a pleasure but also essential to the success of Smart Paddock. Every start-up needs to have someone ‘on their side’ to navigate the complexities of raising funds to scaling a company to be a global success”.
To learn more about Smart Paddock visit https://www.smartpaddock.com/