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Aerial image of tractor spraying soil and young crop in springtime in field

5 AgTech CEOs You Should Know

March 28, 2014

1. Jesse Vollmar, Farmlogs

jesse-vollmar_170x170This 25 year-old was recently named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30. Vollmar is no stranger to farm life, having grown up on a farm in Michigan. In 2012, he and partner Brad Koch started FarmLogs, a mobile-based data-syndication platform that organizes info about weather, crops, inventory, budget components and more. In January, the company announced it raised $4 million in a Series A, and Vollmar says that’s just the beginning.

“We want to then model out the cost of production for farmers in a couple of clicks….We’re computer scientists. We’re hackers. This is how we approach problems. Big companies take more dated approaches to solving these problems.” Vollmar in IBT interview


2. Jorge Heraud, Blue River Technology

09a1273Jorge Heraud founded Blue River Technology with fellow Standford-almun, Lee Redden, in 2011. Heraud’s vision is simple: “to make every plant count.” By using advanced computer vision and robotics, Blue River Technology is a prime example of a precision agriculture company. And, they’ve convinced investors. Just this month, they announced their $10 million Series A, which included lead investor Data Collective Venture Capital, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and Khosla Ventures.

“I remember many of the farmers I first talked with about auto steer thought I was talking Star Wars – it’s tremendously satisfying to see that technology come to market and become standard.” -Heraud in Precision Ag


3. Dr. Doron Gal, Kaiima

kaiia_Doron-Gal-300x300Dr. Doron Gal has served as Kaiima’s CEO since 2007, one year after it’s founding in 2006. Kaiima is an Israeli biotech company that has developed a patented “EPTM” technology, which alters a plant’s genome without damage. Kaiima was named one of the 50 Smartest Companies from the MIT Technology Review, and last Novemeber, announced a $65 million investment from investors, including Horizons Ventures and the International Financial Corporation.

“By 2050, farmers will be tasked to produce 70% more food than they do today to sustain the growing world population. This is a daunting challenge that modern agricultural technology must rise up to meet.” -Gal in Reuters


4. Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat

Ethan-Brown-of-Beyond-Meat-520-300x300Ethan Brown is the founder of of the Bill Gates-backed startup, Beyond Meat. Brown founded the company after wondering, “Would we continue to raise and eat animals in such staggering numbers if a delicious and perfect plant-based replication of meat existed?” Today, Beyond Meat is a leader in plant-protein technology and products. The company already has it’s products in mainstream food markets such as WholeFoods, Publix, H-E-B and more. One of the company’s missions is to complete its “25/20 Vision,” which means, they’d like to reduce the global meat consumption by 25% by 2020.

“I really encourage our employees and myself around this mantra, “We’re trying to make life better. Make sure you enjoy yours in the process.” -Brown in Fortune


5. Dave Friedberg, Climate Corp

Dave-Friedberg-imgOriginally founding a company called WeatherBill in 2007, Friedberg has had his finger on the big-data pulse since most others in the industry. Focusing exclusively on the agriculture sector since 2009, Friedberg has developed one of the most comprehensive data analytics programs for farmers. In September 2013, Climate Corporation was acquired by Monsanto for nearly $1 billion, showing the world that AgTech is an industry to which you probably should start paying attention.

“We only live one life and should make sure that the work we are engaged in and the way we work delivers to us what we want from our short time here.”-Friedberg in the New Yorker


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