In Regrow founder Anastasia Volkova’s first full time job, she hit a wall before she knew it. Like anyone, she was young, ambitious and driven; coming up against the obstacles and limitations that the mainstream corporate world wanted to force on her was an immediate culture shock, and it drew her away from any traditional career path.
Anastasia was a skilled and highly qualified professional, and she found herself pulled towards a path that would let her build, let her work hands-on, and let her connect with the mission in her work.
“I started asking myself - where are people actually using their brain power to do something that matters? Where are they solving the problems, how are they getting to a point where they can take on responsibility for something that they believe is worth dedicating their lives to? The problem that I had in corporate life is that there wasn't enough responsibility for me. And you can't make an impact if you don't take on responsibility, if you don’t take ownership.”
Anastasia’s childhood and lived experience growing up in an agricultural town showed her the challenges of farming and land stewardship first hand. That experience is where Regrow was born.
Anastasia was a scientist and an engineer before she became an entrepreneur - but neither of those career paths were a vocation. To Anastasia, she could have done any job, followed any path, but it was never just about having a career; she also wanted to do the best for her family and for the world around her. The challenges of farming and climate change were a chance to do that.
“I personally feel like climate change is a problem we are avoiding. And it just so happens that farming as an industry, if it changes its course, can help address this problem very significantly, in a very short span of time.”
Anastasia felt her best opportunity was to learn from startup founders, and she began working in different positions in young companies any chance she could get. The work quickly exposed her to the roles of the product manager, account manager, designer, even the business development executive - every crucial position in a software development business - and she recognised a simple principle. If you have a clear customer, and you understand their need, and you understand what resources it takes to deliver on that need, you can create any business. .
Regrow is a startup with the goal of cooling down the Earth. The agricultural tech company helps farmers manage their land and crops in a way that will reduce climate change, all while growing more and better produce. Regrow combines the industry-leading expertise of FluroSat and Dagan to drive resilient agriculture adoption across the supply chain. Their digital platform combines agronomy and scenario planning with monitoring, reporting and verification. It’s a complex platform, in a complex industry, but at its inception it was little more than a handful of believers, hacking together a solution for a few select problems.
In the beginning of Regrow’s journey, Anastasia was actually doing much of the science herself, from the basic processing of the data to the analysis. With her first team members, she built the MVP of the Regrow web platform in parallel to their experiments in advancing the science of . The first version of the product was called Flora viewer, and it was addressing some of the core agronomic tasks that farmers need to manage. It was simple, but it was powerful, and it represented the first iteration of what is now one of the strongest agricultural technology platforms.
“Even now, it’s shocking to me to realize, years down the track, that even competitors who had way more funding than we did weren’t addressing the crucial pain points for an agronomist that the very first version of our product was already solving. Over the years, the delivery got better, the quality of the science got better, we grew the availability of the product, but fundamentally, we're just much better at solving the same problem.”
That problem set is starting to broaden; the agricultural industry is starting to focus on not just the profitability of their costs, inputs and outputs but actually the nature of natural capital. What does agriculture create as an imprint on the environment as its footprint? And what does that mean for the future viability on the vertical as a whole?
To Anastasia, there are two fundamental things that will happen if Regrow and companies in their space succeed. The first is that in five years, with functional ecosystem markets, farmers will be paid not just to produce a certain amount of a commodity, but to act as stewards of the land, proportionally to the impact and preservation of their environment. There are already regions in which farmers are getting paid to manage the landscape more than they are getting paid to just produce food; and with the success of Regrow’s mission, that could become a global reality.
The second is around the awareness of the consumer about the environmental impact of their food production. Consumers will care more about something being produced far away from them, if they know the carbon cost of the transportation of it, the impact of the production on the land, and the value of the provenance. They will be more prepared to pay a premium for supply that is sustainably produced, where they are more connected to the process and the ecosystem.
“As someone who supports business owners, because all farmers are business owners, there's a huge risk on them to not adopt this change. And I think the bigger they are, the bigger risk is but sometimes, the smaller they are, the harsher the consequences can be. It's a really double edged sword here, in a sense that if someone's not adopting the practices we are unlocking, they will really suffer in the long term.”
Agriculture has the power to reverse climate change. Regrow drives resilient agriculture adoption across the supply chain with a digital platform that combines agronomy and scenario planning with monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV).
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