With the focus on helping farmers implement strategic irrigation management GroGuru came into existence. The organization measures things like soil moisture, temperature, and salinity at various root depth of crops by deploying soil sensors. GroGuru wirelessly transmits this data to the Cloud where it adds additional information to make AI-based recommendations to farmers about when and how much to irrigate their crops. GroGuru’s recommendation engine accounts for the data that it gets from the soil sensors, but also crop type, weather, soil type, and additional data.
As the CEO and President of GroGuru, Patrick Henry drives the overall strategy and operational execution for an exciting AgTech company that will change the way that farmers grow crops by using an innovative IoT system for precision irrigation and soil monitoring and management.
In an interview with Insights Success, Patrick has shared key insights of the company and his journey as a serial entrepreneur.
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal”
Below are the highlights of the interview between Patrick and Insights Success;
Describe your background and what did you do before you started or came into this business?
I am a serial entrepreneur that has run four tech startup companies, including GroGuru. I have had multiple exits including an IPO that lead to a $1 billion valuation. I have an engineering undergrad and an MBA. I’ve worked in technology my whole career.
What is your role in the company?
I am the president and CEO of GroGuru. In this role, there are many hats, especially in a startup: chief salesperson, chief operating ofﬁcer, chief fundraiser, chief recruiter, and chief cheerleader. We are an innovative agriculture technology company focused on strategic irrigation management. We help farmers make more money by increasing crop yield and more efﬁciently using water and other scarce resources in a sustainable way.
What people, what books, what life factors have inﬂuenced and impacted you?
I’ve had a number of excellent mentors in my career that have really helped to shape and guide my career path. Some of my favourite business books include: The Innovator’s Dilemma, Crossing the Chasm, Built to Last, Competitive Strategy, Strategic Selling, and Good to Great, to name a few. I’ve always been very goal and achievement oriented, and my parents were very supportive of my pursuits. I also love personal development books like Earl Nightingale’s Lead the Field and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich.
What is the operating philosophy and cutting-edge solutions/services that the company has been built on?
GroGuru has developed an innovative and now patented technology called the Wireless Underground System, or WUGS, that can communicate through several feet of rock, soil, concrete, etc. This technology enables the permanent installation even in annual ﬁeld crops. We then apply machine learning to this proprietary data stream and make recommendations to farmers about when and how much to irrigate through a simple, intuitive, farmer-friendly user interface.
What is your vision for the company for the next ﬁve years?
I think we can grow to be the leader in irrigation monitoring and management for commercial farmers in the US and worldwide.
According to you, which upcoming/current technology is going to be a disruptive force in a near future?
Other than GroGuru, I think genetic code and genetic editing solutions are going to experience explosive growth and tons of innovation. Also, anything to do with improving soil health and carbon sequestration.
As a CEO/leader, describe a challenge you overcame.
There have been many challenges I’ve had to overcome in my career. In my experience, adversity is where leadership is tested and proven. I think persistence with patience and a cool head during times of great uncertainty, ambiguity and stress is essential for leadership. In my career, I’ve had a failed IPO that we turned around and made successful, I’ve navigated a company through the great recession, and at GroGuru we’ve had to raise money and build a company in an incredibly difﬁcult funding environment.
How do you sustain your entrepreneurial/leadership spirit in this changing technological era?
I actually wrote a book about this called PLAN COMMIT WIN: 90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup. I think one of the most important things as a startup leader is to never give up. Don’t quit before the miracle happens. And stay positive. This is not to say you should be Pollyanna, but don’t give up just because things get hard. Have a plan, adjust as appropriate, and have a commitment to win!
What advice would you like to give to the emerging business leaders?
Get a mentor. Have advisors and mentors in your life that are further down the path that you are pursuing. Be open minded and willing to listen and learn. Get the data then trust your gut.