Founder Spotlight – Megan Madden, Combine Settings

By: Shivani Persad, July 03 2024

When you think of a farmer, do you think of an older person on a field without internet access?  Megan Madden wants you to know that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, when she runs social media workshops, agriculture and farming are the examples she uses as industries that adopt technological advances quickly. As the co-founder of Combine Settings and one of the companies that received investment from The Firehood angels through the second cohort of the Women+ Entrepreneur Incubator, Megan says she’s learned so much and even secured a partnership with Google through Elevate and The Firehood.

Here’s our interview with Megan about Combine Settings and her time in our Women+ Entrepreneur Incubator.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

I’m chronically unemployable because I dream bigger, and I don’t like rules. I’ve never liked school or anything with an agenda. I prefer to do things my own way. My last real job was probably almost 20 years ago.

I won an entrepreneurship competition called the Perfect Pitch, which gave me the start-up funding to start my own company. Since then, I’ve been running my own consulting companies and am now moving into being a tech founder.

What were some of the key challenges you faced when starting Combine Settings?

Not knowing anything about web development was a major challenge. We initially thought our project would be a small website to help farmers talk to each other.

However, as we validated and took it to market, we realized the concept had much more potential. This required us to level up our development and build a more robust and future-proof platform.

Can you describe Combine Settings and the problem it aims to solve? is a peer-to-peer platform that helps farmers connect with each other to share their data, reducing harvest losses. This not only produces more food and reduces waste but also increases farmers’ earnings. The platform addresses food waste in various parts of the supply chain and production process by helping farmers adjust settings within their harvests to minimize waste.

What makes your product or service unique in the market?

Our platform consolidates various communication options into one verified place. Currently, farmers have to phone multiple neighbours, dig through social media, or contact manufacturers to get the information they need. There’s even a global WhatsApp group with hundreds of farmers on it, making it difficult for them to sift through information and get helpful answers to their often specific questions.

We’ve created a one-stop shop for farmers to find these solutions efficiently and vote on their efficacy, which doesn’t exist elsewhere in the market.

How has Combine Settings evolved since its inception?

We started with the idea of a simple website for farmers to talk to each other, but it has evolved into a diversified web app with mapping functionality.

We’re now piloting on four different continents and have had interest from manufacturers and dealers in creating a dashboard system.

We’ve expanded from a B2C model to include a B2B component, helping farmers and the industry connect in a verified way.

What motivated you to join the incubator program with Elevate and The Firehood?

We had been part of similar accelerator programs, but I wanted a female-focused space. We were open to investment, and I wanted to learn personally, not just for the business.

I appreciated that this program focused on me as an entrepreneur, helping me grow as a founder, not just focusing on investment.

How has the program helped you overcome specific challenges you faced as a woman entrepreneur?

Hearing other founders’ stories about early failures made me feel better about my own journey.

Workshops on finding partners, delegating properly, and trusting service providers allowed me to focus on what I do well. The program’s focus on personal growth as a founder was invaluable.

Can you share a memorable experience or key learning from the program?

During the final pitches, chatting with other founders was affirming—we were all learning together. It debunked my fear that we had to be further along in our journey; instead, it showed me that having a solid idea and knowing your business is often enough for investors who want to join in the early stages.

I honestly did not expect to win! Initially, I thought we needed to be further ahead in our journey to participate in the program, much less win. But, I realized that having a good idea and understanding your product and audience is often enough. You don’t need to be fully successful to join these programs; they’re designed for entrepreneurs at any stage.

We thought we weren’t ready for investment, but investors were interested in us even at that early stage. The pitching process was surprisingly less intimidating than I expected. It turned out to be my favourite part, as it involved engaging in conversations with The Firehood angels about our business and future plans. It took the intimidation out of the process and was a very enjoyable experience. The journey has taught me the importance of community and the realization that investors are just people, too.

What are your future plans for Combine Settings?

We’ve decided to go on an investment journey and actively seek investors to do a raise. The program made this process more approachable. We aim to build the company as fast as we can to capitalize on the current momentum.

Our goal is to help as many farmers as possible globally and expand along different parts of the food supply chain, including working with combine manufacturers and partnering with sustainability and carbon reduction programs.

Thanks to Elevate and The Firehood, we have partnerships, like the one with Google, which will help us integrate AI for a better user experience.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs who are starting their journey?

Talk to anyone and everyone you can. Tell everyone what you’re doing because you never know who can help or connect with you. People want to support women in business, so do as much research as you can and be open to opportunities. Don’t be scared to ask for help; actively seek it out. Be part of as many programs and organizations as you can, even if it feels exhausting at times.

What advice would you give someone unsure about applying to this program?

Absolutely go for it because you never know what you will learn. Go into it with an open mind, as there’s something here for everyone, no matter where you are in your entrepreneurship process. The program offers valuable connections, knowledge, and information that can be used both now and in the future.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience or Combine Settings?

I really appreciated that the Elevate and The Firehood teams meet you where you’re at. They customize the support based on your needs and are very helpful in connecting you with the right people. The process was amazing and made the investment and raising process a lot less intimidating. This experience has significantly changed my outlook on approaching funding and growing my company.

We encourage you to follow Megan’s journey with Combine Settings as they expand their product offering and customer base globally. If you want funding and support to scale your tech company globally and identify as a woman or gender-diverse founder, apply to our next Entrepreneur Incubator.