A conversation with Joe Fletcher, Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director at Raft Collective.

Together with Steven Wall, Joe Fletcher will be hosting the Capstone Project on: new solutions for smallholder safety at the TFF Academy.

Joe Fletcher is a co-founder and Executive Creative Director at Raft Collective. He has 15+ years experience in corporate design management and consulting. His work focuses on creating business strategies, setting up business processes, and designing experiences for Fortune 100 companies through start-ups. His previous leadership roles include Creative Director at frog design, and management roles at Microsoft and Intuit.

Tell us about yourself, your mission with your work at Raft Collective and how it’s connected with TFF?

Alongside a group of amazingly talented designers, we run a design and business consulting company based in Amsterdam working with global clients. We partner with our clients to assist in research, value definition, process, and user experience work.

Working with TFF, our goal is to enable those within the network to think different about how they approach agriculture and business issues to find new solutions to existing and future problems.

What’s your understanding of this year’s theme: Multispectral Thinking? 

It’s about bringing together non-sequitur roles to influence each other and bring about better ideas and propositions within the food and agriculture space. It’s about learning from other fields and exploring previously unknown areas to bring unique perspectives to everyone’s work or studies.

Where do you see the current biggest challenges in the food and agriculture industry – both from the perspective of industry players and next-gen startups?

Within our Capstone Project, there are two broad, yet unique, challenges we see for both start-ups and incumbents.

First, ‘Choice’ is the biggest challenge. The choice to embrace what users, partners, and consumer need, as opposed to technology-first or product-first thinking. If companies choose to connect their products to those who use them in meaningful, interesting, and emotional ways. Or if they choose to continue to deliver solutions that are the accepted status quo, leaving them open to displacement and disruption.

Second, accepting and embracing ‘Change’. The idea that everything is changing, from logistics, to supply chain, entrepreneur opportunities, and climate change. Companies that once held distribution or location monopolies may be able to be disrupted by smaller players or changing global forces. Larger companies need to adjust their organizations and thinking to stay nimble within these broader changing times.

Why and how do you see the role of the next-generation coming into play?

The role of millennials and the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs is felt across all industries, and will also heavily impact Agriculture. A generation growing up online, being exposed to tools that can enable anyone to handle business from anywhere at anytime, will uproot traditional forms of agriculture.

Specifically, the idea that the internet has made anyone an entrepreneur through tools to seamlessly set up user manager, payment, subscriptions, analytics, logistics, and manufacturing. What just-in-time logistics and standard shipping contains did for global trade 50 years ago, is happening now with digital tools. Larger companies, previously controlling the market through logistics, supply, and patents, will be altered by smaller companies who connect to partners and end-users through new business models, great experiences, sustainability, pure digital experiences, and low overhead. Areas that need lower capital investment and have the ability to connect directly with customers will be ripe for this type of disruption.

Could you share a little teaser of the Capstone Project with Syngenta at the TFF Academy 2018?

Our capstone project will focus on how to address crop protection challenges within the smallholder farming community. From increasing safety, to decreasing cost, to providing education, and enabling entrepreneurship, this program will look at some of the most difficult challenges smallholder farmers face, and explore how to solve them. It will also address how the two challenges of Change and Choice will play roles in making better products to support those who need them most.


Curious to work on how to address crop protection challenges within the smallholder farming community? Head over to our Q&A with Steven Wall to learn more about Syngenta’s role in the Capstone Project at the TFF Academy this July.  Get your ticket today and join us!