Land Maverick LLC Founder and CEO Emily Yale spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about her experience launching a startup and participating in an innovative new entrepreneurship program at the University of Connecticut.
NAN PRICE: What is Land Maverick?
EMILY YALE: Land Maverick is a big data company looking to automate soil data collection on golf courses. We do that with autonomous robots designed to travel around the golf course and test the soil’s nutrient levels. Our method provides 20× the amount of data, uses a fraction of the labor, reduces chemical usage, reduces costs, and reduces environmental impact when compared to the industry standard process.
NAN: How did you come up with the business concept?
EMILY: Land Maverick came out of my undergraduate work and a lot of mentoring I received at Fairfield University. I’m a double major in mechanical engineering with an individualized major in entrepreneurship.
When I won Fairfield’s StartUp Showcase competition in 2018 with the Land Maverick project, it became very apparent that Land Maverick was a viable business concept and that I needed to continue pushing it forward. When I finished my undergrad work in 2018, I took an eight-month break from Land Maverick to work full time at a major startup in Connecticut. In January 2019, I left that job and began the Master of Engineering in Global Entrepreneurship program at UConn, which I’ll complete in December 2020.
NAN: Tell us a little more about that program.
EMILY: I started at UConn in January of 2019 with the express purpose of launching Land Maverick after completing the program. The Master of Engineering in Global Entrepreneurship is one of the very few programs like it in the country. I’m in the inaugural cohort. The program brings in students on a graduate level who have a developed business idea with some prior prototype experience. The program provides resources for startups to become cemented in the Connecticut entrepreneurial ecosystem, successfully launch their company, and get it off the ground upon a culmination of their degree.
NAN: What other Connecticut resources have helped in your entrepreneurial journey?
EMILY: All the resources in Connecticut have their own different merits and they bring together a lot of very exciting, interesting people. I’ve been involved with Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center at the University of Hartford and the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI) at UConn. In addition to those two resources, I’ve also worked with the Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UConn, CTNext, the Entrepreneurship Foundation, and some of Fairfield University’s entrepreneurship events. Through those resources, I’ve met some absolutely fantastic people, including serial entrepreneur Bob Dorf.
NAN: Let’s talk about manufacturing your product. How did you find manufacturers and form collaborations here in Connecticut?
EMILY: There’s a high level of quality of manufacturing in the state. We leverage our contacts and economic development directors to find manufacturers to work with. It can be a challenge to find manufacturers willing to take on small runs, but once one finds the right company, it’s smooth sailing.
We’ve been working with multiple Connecticut manufacturers including Canton Manufacturing and Asterisk Inc. Both of these companies have been fantastic to work with. They build parts correctly, on time, and have great staff. Their presidents are both hands-on and happy to work with a client to make a project successful.
NAN: How are you marketing and finding your target clients?
EMILY: Finding target clients for Land Maverick is an interesting concept because there are 15,000 clients in the golf course sector in the United States and they’re all listed online. A funny thing about the golf course industry is, it’s very much on a list basis because people want to know where they can go play golf. All the golf courses are listed online, so I can look at where I want to be geographically with my marketing, pull that list of courses, and then individually target each one of those courses.
The golf industry reacts quite well to cold calls and mailers. So, we’re able to take a direct B2B marketing approach to engage potential customers to begin working with us.
NAN: How many people are on your team?
EMILY: Right now, a software engineer and a mechanical engineer are working with me. We’ve been working together for so long; we have a healthy symbiotic relationship and we each know our roles for accomplishing each task.
Team collaboration is really important for startups. There’s certainly a challenge to putting together the right team, but once it comes together and everyone wants to be committed, that’s really what makes startups work. It’s also a double-edged sword that frustrates a lot of startups that can’t find the right team.
NAN: Do you have plans to grow your team in the future?
EMILY: Most certainly. We have a list of positions that need to be filled. In the next three years, we need to bring in at least 12 new full-time team members to be able to accomplish our goals.
Learn more about Land Maverick