During the latest Small Business & Startup Stories DSM podcast, Nadilia Gomez expanded on her journey to chief technology officer (CTO) of digital and precision agriculture at Iowa State University (ISU) after being a guest for a previous Startup Stories podcast Gomez discussed leading the digital and precision agriculture platform. As CTO, Gomez helps accelerate the path for innovators and entrepreneurs at ISU.
Passionate about science, early on she was interested in tackling problems like world hunger and explored universities with graduate programs that combined basic and applied sciences in order to help develop seed to feed more families. That interest to innovate in the ag industry is what led her to her eventual positions at Corteva, AgriTech Accelerator and now with ISU.
Iowa State University + Agriculture
Gomez said that ISU’s prolific ability to generate agriculture and technology innovations help accelerate ideas to operate on the farm. Her own role brings her close to faculty and graduate students who are coming up with entrepreneurial ideas within the farming industry. Working closely with industry partners, she becomes aware of the gaps where technology and innovation could help solve problems facing farmers today. Within technology, artificial intelligence, information, production and more, she can see the evolution of ideas. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is maturing to a point where there is a pipeline of companies coming up with ideas and successfully going to pre-revenue and revenue generation and commercialization.
To succeed in the AgTech field, Gomez said entrepreneurs are a unique set of individuals who have an eagerness to take risks. They have a big vision for their company and their teams. One of the most important characteristics that an entrepreneur must have is the ability to listen to the customers’ needs. Finding and maintaining product-market-fit is essential to develop the type of products truly needed.
Farming Today Vs. Farming in the Past
There is a huge range of adoption of technology in farming operations today. Gomez said there are farms managing at a smaller scale with a lot of human engagement, while others are multi-location and distributed across counties. One entrepreneurial opportunity is to consider the amplitude of that range. While there is an advantage to going after the potential opportunity in the large operations, there are interesting opportunities within the smaller operations as well.
Gomez also discussed the investor community within the AgTech space, the valuation differences between Midwest and coastal investors, mentoring, and entrepreneurship. Read more about Iowa’s biobased-sciences economy initiative here.
Listen to the entire podcast above. You can also watch the interview here:
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