The purpose of Client Tell is to spotlight the remarkable work of our clients, and to help businesses learn from and connect with each other. This month we sat down with entrepreneur Steven Valencsin, Founder and CEO of Growers, to learn how his Raleigh-based company is improving Precision Agriculture technology to impact farming practices around the country.
Smarter Farming Practices
Most successful startups begin when someone notices a problem in their everyday life and decides to do something about it, and such is the case with Raleigh based, ag tech company Growers LLC. Entrepreneur Steven Valencsin grew up farming in the Midwest, but moved to North Carolina to study Business and Agronomy at N.C. State University. During his junior year, he launched a private soil testing lab, but realized quickly that most testing methods and analysis were old and outdated A year after graduation, he sold his lab and founded Growers to develop his own solution. Steven recalled:
“During that time, there was a brand-new thing happening called Precision Agriculture, the practice of combining data and technology to make very precise decisions. I found a new way to leverage soil test results and leverage some of the latest and greatest technology. Growers combines agronomy, technology and data analytics into a service that allows farmers to utilize all the available information to make the smartest decisions for each crop.”
Steven ran the company on his own for the first few years, honing his data collection methods and systems. But in 2013, there was a large-scale acquisition in the agritech space, and the entrepreneur knew this was the opportune time to expand his operations. “When an agricultural giant writes a billion-dollar check, suddenly everyone is interested in investing in similar companies,” explained Steven. “Until that point, I was adding value to customers, but wasn’t as focused on large-scale growth. I realized I had been sitting on the sidelines for years, but now Growers had to get in the game before we got steamrolled.”
The startup really began to gain momentum on the seeding front in 2015. Recognizing that funding was essential to staying competitive, Steven was able to make the connections and relationships necessary to see an exponential upward trend. Today, the business has grown to 36 employees, with headquarters in Raleigh and Seattle, with and additional offices in Texas, and Arizona. “Our intimate knowledge of farming and the relationships we have built are the foundation of our ongoing growth and success,” said Steven.
Over the last seven years, the Growers team has created tools to turn individual farmer’s data into strategic recommendations that deliver results. Since each farmer has different soil and unique operations, the 12-month plans are specifically tailored to their needs. Growers partners with some of the nation’s top progressive farmers across 16 states, helping them more efficiently manage their land by increasing yields and lowering production costs. In recognition of the advancements he’s made in sustainable farming, Steven was recently named to Forbes Magazine’s list of 30 Under 30 for Enterprise Technology.
Steven also farms his own 1000-acre farm in Guilford County, which helps him to better advise farmers on the latest technology and adoption. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but farming will always be my number-one passion,” he remarked. “I view my business ventures as a way to stay involved in agriculture technology. My farm serves as both a training ground for our team as well as a proving ground for our tools and systems.”
When it comes to the company’s legal needs, Growers looks to the team at Fourscore Business Law. Upon their first meeting, Steven was immediately drawn to Fourscore team’s entrepreneurial spirit and mindset, and specifically their experience with small businesses. He explained:
“As a startup founder, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the heart and soul of your company and the people you serve, that you forget the importance of understanding all the complicated legal components of running a business, especially when raising capital That’s why you need a level-headed advisor who can give smart counsel that always keeps your best interest in mind. The Fourscore team understands that an investor’s main focus is getting the best return, and every decision has implications now, but also years down the road. The stakes are high, and there’s really no room for error, so having a thoughtful partner to help me think through these decisions has been invaluable.”
To learn more, visit. Growers.ag.