Meet Craig Rupp, Sabanto Founder & CEO

Meet Craig Rupp, Sabanto Founder & CEO

Craig Rupp in his office – Founder and CEO of Sabanto


I’m Craig Rupp. I grew up on a farm in northwest Iowa, mostly on the fender of a 4020. I became an electrical engineer, spent years in the cellular industry, partly responsible for that silly little device you carry around with you. I do apologize for that. With forces that I cannot explain, I kept getting pulled back into agriculture. Everytime I see a StarFire receiver or Greenstar display, I am reminded of the blood, sweat and tears shed developing them during my stint at Deere. I conceived the FieldView Drive while sitting at Apple’s Cupertino facility working on their iPad. I’m enamored with agriculture technology, my mission to transform the ag industry.
So how did Sabanto come to life?

I get interviewed a lot and cannot fathom how many times I’ve been asked, “Why did you start this company?” At first glance, it seemed obvious. I grew up on a farm in Iowa, became an electrical engineer, and for one reason or another, became a serial entrepreneur. It was never a career goal of mine to ever start a company, it was more like something I had to do because I wanted to create something and it was the only way I would be allowed to do it.

Back in 2013, I co-founded a company called 640 Labs, having conceived and developed what’s now referred to as the FieldView Drive, a device that gathers machine and agriculture data from farm equipment. My company was acquired by Monsanto in 2014, and then placed under The Climate Corporation. From 2014 to 2018, I spent a lot of time working with farmers. When I would ask them what keeps them up at night, every last one of them said, “Labor!” They were all reading from the same hymn book telling me that it wasn’t the cost of labor, it was the lack of labor that concerned them. It was obvious to me that autonomy was the answer. I asked the powers-to-be at Climate if I could start an autonomy team and was told, “No.”

I left Climate in 2018 and spent two straight months thinking about how I thought autonomy will change the agriculture industry. If you ever start a company, you best heed Wayne Gretzky’s advice, “Don’t skate to where the puck is, skate to where it’s going to be.” I came to the conclusion that autonomy will not only remove the butt in the seat, but it will also increase the number of working hours. I was reminded of James Watt, the godfather of power. James’ most famous equation, not only a good idea, but the law, is:

Horse Power = work / time

So, for the same amount of work, horsepower and time are inversely proportional. If you increase time, you decrease horsepower. In other words, a 250 HP tractor working 24 hours can do as much work as a 500 HP tractor in 12 hours.
I spent days obsessing over this revelation and came to the conclusion that we have peaked in horsepower, but autonomy will take it in the other direction. It was at that moment I convinced myself I am going to start an autonomy company focused on running smaller machines more hours.


They are the same picture


And so it started. Developing autonomous technology was one thing. Our company is going to focus on running smaller machines for longer hours. I think we accomplished it. We’ve run multiple machines over 48 hours, pausing only for fuel. Meanwhile, I have a 60 HP tractor that planted 750 acres in one spring. All. By. Itself.

– Craig


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