AgTech: Egor Kirin Of Agro.Club On The New Technologies That Are Revolutionizing Agriculture

Be able to adapt easily. The agricultural industry is very conservative but not static, as it still depends on Mother Nature, market conditions, and government regulations.

The agriculture industry is undergoing rapid transformation as innovative technologies are being developed and implemented, from precision agriculture to vertical farming, and beyond. In this series, we are speaking to leaders, innovators, and experts in the AgTech space who are playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of agriculture. We aim to explore the latest developments, discuss the challenges and opportunities that these technologies present, and showcase the impact of AgTech on the industry as a whole. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewingEgor Kirin.

Egor Kirin, 35, began his career as a business analyst at Monsanto (now Bayer) and rose to executive positions in his late twenties. At the age of 31, he left a successful corporate world to start his own company, Agro.Club, that develops the B2B grain trading marketplace around the world.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

My career started as a business analyst, and by the time I was in my late 20s, I had advanced to executive roles overseeing large business regions, like Europe and the Middle East, for large agriculture multinationals. I saw all the inefficiencies that farmers, input manufacturers, retailers, and grain companies had to deal with throughout my work across the agricultural value chain. So I began to consider how technology would be a fantastic solution to boost productivity and significantly increase the efficiency and security of the food supply.

That is what motivated me to leave a prosperous corporate environment and to launch my own company, Agro.Club.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most exciting professional thing that has happened to me so far is the fact that I’ve managed to build a profitable global company from scratch. Literally, when my team and I started, there was nothing, and then with hard work, passion, a lot of perseverance, and some luck, we were able to create something that brings value to thousands of farmers and grain companies around the world. This is very rewarding and satisfying!

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • My life principle is to always find the way.

I remember one time we had to approach a very important customer over 100 times before convincing them to work with us and not taking “no” for an answer.

  • Employ people with common corporate values.

It’s the only way one stays in business and succeeds.

  • The skill to let go fast.

It’s either about people who don’t fit in with our pace or about projects that don’t gain traction.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

My company has a noble mission: to use technology to connect the global ag value chain to make the grain supply more secure, efficient, and sustainable.

At the moment, we are expanding our grain marketplace globally. And besides opening new geographies, we’re constantly improving service and creating useful features for our customers.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. How did you become involved in AgTech, and why does it matter to you?

According to the World Resources Institute, by 2050, the world will need 56 percent more food than it currently consumes. Changes in agriculture are inevitable, with technology playing a key role. But markets, particularly in agriculture and grain, are very conservative; most AgTech startups still fail.

Being an insider in the ag industry, surrounded by peers with common values, I’ve pledged to find a way to make it work for everyone, grow fast, and build a profitable long-term business, not a bubble.

What are the most transformative technologies currently in use in AgTech, and how are they revolutionizing the industry?

  • I see a shift to B2B models among AgTech startups and technology-backed financial solutions for various ag players.
  • There’s a prolonged focus on increasing crop yields and overall productivity to meet growing food needs.
  • Precision agriculture becomes more adopted as there’s a strong need to reduce soaring agricultural input costs.
  • There’s a continued focus on sustainability and carbon reduction technologies.
  • More players in the agriculture industry are trading through B2B marketplaces.

How do these technologies contribute to sustainable agriculture practices and the fight against climate change?

According to the recent McKinsey survey, there is a transition toward more sustainable, less resource-intensive food systems, with precision agriculture as a key enabler.

Ag robotics can autonomously detect and spray weeds, offering a more sustainable field environment.

While precision agriculture is a very cost-effective and environmentally friendly technique, it also keeps farm businesses more profitable.

What are the challenges in integrating these technologies with existing farming practices?

I won’t talk for everybody, but I can comment on the challenges in our business.

First, it takes time and many iterations to polish the model and gain the infamous product-market fit.

Second, it takes persistence and belief not to give up when things go unexpectedly wrong.

And, third, it’s still not easy to let go of amazing ideas that do not correspond to what the market needs today. But it is important to do so to continue serving the customers, not your own dreams.

What emerging technologies do you see as having the potential to disrupt the AgTech industry in the next 5–10 years?

  • Various sensors are used to monitor the livestock (as they provide information about the cattle’s location, nutrition, fertility, and health).
  • More affordable drones and IT software to monitor crops (to track soil, humidity, diseases, and foresee a potential yield).
  • A vast implementation of big data to make the right farming decisions.
  • More IT equipment to monitor farm processes.
  • More autonomous farm machinery, including those for precision agriculture.
  • Cities will have urban farming.
  • Alternative and renewable energy sources will be used (when it’s clean, safe and efficient).

What kind of policy changes would be beneficial for the growth of the AgTech industry?

Approximately 61% of farmers in Europe and North America currently use or intend to use one AgTech product in the next two years, according to McKinsey. These farmers show a high level of innovation and openness, but adoption is still sluggish.

In my opinion, the development of the AgTech industry should be accelerated, and the use of its solutions should be highly promoted. To do this, the government should eliminate regulatory restrictions, cooperate with agricultural players more actively, and encourage them to use innovative tools. Farm advisory services are a crucial resource for exchanging new information, concepts, and experiences.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in AgTech?

Sell your customers the solution to their pain, not just another AgTech product or service.

Ok, thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started ” and why?

1 . Don’t get easily fooled, as not all that glitters is gold. You can pay a “superstar” and it will not benefit the company, unlike those employees who come to work and give their all.

2 . Think outside the box. Be able to pivot and adjust your product to the current situation. That’s what we did when we launched our grain marketplace globally.

3 . Be able to adapt easily. The agricultural industry is very conservative but not static, as it still depends on Mother Nature, market conditions, and government regulations.

4 . Have sufficient resources to give it a try. Farmers don’t adopt new technology fast; it takes time to test it out, and it may take years for you to find the right fit.

5 . One man said, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there”. So never stop developing yourself, your business, or your team.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Building a successful corporate career is hard; starting your own business is much harder. If you’re inspired by entrepreneurial life, get prepared for stress and a 24/7 work schedule.

Accept failures, as everyone fails at something.

But let these words of Michael Jordan inspire you: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed”.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

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This was very inspiring and informative. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this interview!