084: Mark Young (The Climate Corporation)

Mark Young on Innovation City

“At the end of the day, you live and die by the value you create for your customers.” — Mark Young

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Mark Young, CTO & Head of Product at The Climate Corporation. The Climate Corporation is focused on helping farmers get their data in one place, uncover valuable field insights, and optimize their inputs. Mark leads the development of a unified technical vision, architecture, and roadmap to help Climate deliver an industry-leading digital agriculture platform. Mark sits down with the team to discuss mixing his agriculture and technology backgrounds with Climate, the importance of identifying your customer’s pain points, how ag-tech companies are helping to create better crop yields, new ag-tech that Climate is working on, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Growing up on a small family farm in New Jersey
  • Going to Silicon Valley immediately after college
  • Created his own startup in Silicon Valley and ran that for 6 years
  • Creating technology and software all over the world
  • Started working for Climate about 4 years ago
    • Climate mixes technology with agriculture
  • Everybody knows everybody in Silicon Valley- it’s smaller than people think
  • St. Louis has one of the biggest ag-tech companies in the world headquartered locally
  • Silicon Valley is a melting pot
  • His experience coming from the East Coast to the West Coast to now the Midwest
  • Ag-tech revolves around the agronomic schedule
    • You have a full year to develop and test products and then the customer makes a decision if they want it the next year
  • Tech industry runs as fast as you can ship the product
  • The challenge of not being able to run an ag-tech company at the same pace as a regular tech company
  • Ag-tech allows for a healthy work-life balance, whereas regular tech jobs can have you working up to 100 hours a week
  • St. Louis doesn’t need to be the next Silicon Valley- it just needs to have the same level of innovation
  • At the end of the day it’s about the value you create for your customers
  • The importance of having your customers identified before you start building your product/service
    • Being able to answer: What are your customer’s pain points?
  • Climate Corp is data science applied to agriculture
  • You only get about 40 chances in your lifetime to be good at farming
  • Ag-tech is bringing powerful data-backed technology to farmers
  • Climate’s customer footprint is about 70 million acres of corn and soy
  • New ag-tech that Climate is working on:
    • Seed Advisor Tool: tells farmers which seeds are going to perform the best in their particular fields
  • Creating partnerships between farmer and technology companies
  • Using less chemistry in farming is better for consumers and the environment
  • The importance of putting yourself in the shoes of your customer to understand their pain points
  • Understanding the solution your customers need can allow you to make better decisions and investments for your company
  • Climate Corporate being backed by Bayer and the benefits of being part of a large enterprise
  • Connect with Mark on Twitter
  • Reach out to Climate Corporation on their website