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Highlights

 

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Mark DeSantis, CEO at Bloomfield, an AG tech startup that has raised $8.5 million in funding.

  • Bloomfield uses AI and computer vision to analyze images of crops (like grapes, blueberries, etc.) and provide detailed insights to farmers on the condition of every single plant.
  • The company’s technology can identify and geolocate each plant, analyzing features like leaf density, grape count/size/color, and more by mounting cameras on tractors/vehicles.
  • This allows farmers to maximize yield, quality and consistency by precisely treating individual plants based on their unique needs, rather than managing entire acres collectively.
  • The long-term vision is “plant digitalization” where every plant becomes a digital artifact that is continuously monitored and optimized throughout its lifetime.
  • Farmers are embracing new technology rapidly as they face labor shortages and need to feed a growing global population with limited arable land.
  • Bloomfield sees an opportunity to bring advanced AI/imaging capabilities from self-driving cars and other domains into the agricultural industry.

Actionable
Takeaways

Embrace Being an Outsider in a New Industry:

Don't be intimidated by lack of direct experience when trying to solve problems in an unfamiliar industry. Mark's journey shows that focusing intently on understanding the specific problem rather than the entire industry can be an advantage. As an outsider, you bring fresh perspectives unhindered by ingrained biases. Respect industry veterans but don't let unfamiliarity deter you - look for parallels between the new challenge and problems you've solved before.

Target "Big Boring" Problems Ripe for Innovation:

Many founders gravitate towards sleek, headline-grabbing solutions in trendy sectors. However, Mark advises seeking out fundamental yet overlooked issues in traditional industries like agriculture, infrastructure, and utilities. Applying cutting-edge technologies like AI, imaging and machine learning to these "big boring" problems presents immense opportunities to create value by modernizing essentialmundane processes.

Foster an Environment of Responsibility and Learning:

One of the most rewarding aspects for Mark is empowering his team to take on significant responsibilities early in their careers. Give young employees the freedom to solve challenging problems they may not encounter for years at a larger company. Cultivate a culture where mistakes are treated as learning experiences rather than failures. This unlocks potential and drives innovative thinking.

Persistence Pays Off for Physical World Problems:

While online/digital solutions can seem easier, Mark argues the real-world impact of tackling complex physical problems is tremendously valuable. These tangible challenges are often more dynamic and less constrained, requiring persistence. However, with modern technologies like AI/imaging/sensors, seemingly impossible physical hurdles can be overcome through determination.

Intimately Understand the Opportunity Within an Industry:

Rather than attempting to comprehend an entire industry's complexities, Mark recommends zeroing in on the specific opportunity and diligently studying that problem space. Become obsessed with understanding all aspects of the challenge. This focused, deep expertise into your targeted problem will be more valuable than broad but surface-level industry knowledge.

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