Agriculture has seen its fair share of startups in the past few years, and for those businesses, growth can come in fits and starts. Yet there comes a day when the founding entrepreneur has to realize that perhaps it’s time to bring in other talent — not unlike a farmer diversifying and seeking a partner. That's what's happened at the 6-year-old company Taranis.
This innovative aerial imagery and precision scouting business just named a new CEO, as founder Ofir Schlam stays on board as president. Bar Veinstein takes the reins to help guide the company into its next growth phase. Already, Taranis serves more than 19,000 customers and monitors over 20 million acres.
"For the last six years as president and CEO, I think we've brought the company to great heights. But for the next six years, I'd rather have someone leading who's done it before," Schlam says.
That's a critical issue for any business. Does current management have the tools and insight to carry the business to the next level. Schlam recognizes that more understanding and insight will be needed, and he's turned to Veinstein.
Veinstein was most recently president of Ex Libris, a $200 million sales global software-as-a-service business, and he acknowledges he has little ag knowledge. But the two leaders feel they're ready to partner for the next phase of growth for Taranis.
"My background is not in ag tech or in the agricultural space," Veinstein admits. "I came from the educational technology space, and I've worked in customer relationship management, financial services and others."
His specialty is the ability to work with companies on that next-level step in growth, helping those companies continue and grow.
As for the lack of an ag background? "I believe, from my last 11 years working with academia, that the multidisciplinary approach is always good," he adds. The concept is to bring in people with different disciplines, which he adds usually results in a better outcome. That outside perspective can help a company identify opportunities.
Schlam says for the last couple of years, the work at Taranis has been about proving to customers the tool works and helping producers succeed. "I think this season is our chance to leverage our business to approach more customers," he says. "And I think retailers of all sizes are looking for solutions to provide better retention of customers."
The Taranis precision-scouting solution uses high-resolution imagery combined with artificial intelligence to precisely identify pests, nutrient deficiencies and diseases during the growing season. The precision is high enough to scout a field and note pests by specific insect and weed species.
Veinstin and Schlam are quick to note they're not out to put scouts out of business. Instead, the service is geared toward making scouting more efficient. And dealers are responding. Schlam notes for 2021, the company has already seen a significant increase in dealers using their services.
Adds Veinstein: "And that's why they brought me in. At my previous company, I ran an organization that had more than a thousand employees and grew to more than $200 million in business."
The company recently relocated to Indiana to be closer to customers, and they've added more customer support people, too.
And to build on that customer connection, the company is launching Taranis Connect. The tool will allow customers to get faster access to the imagery and insights the company gathers for specific fields. "It's about getting information to the grower, and being faster to help them stop threats," Schlam says. "This is a new mobile app that has our scouting information, but also all of our insights."
With that information the agronomist can see alerts and pest thresholds more quickly, and it can help an agronomist prioritize areas in-season that need attention. "If he is managing 200 fields, he can identify the 20 that need attention right away," Schlam says.
A startup's successful establishment requires not only innovative thinking, but also a structure and plan. Veinstein is working on developing a 36-month plan for the company that can help keep the business on a steady course of growth. Long-term planning is key for providing a business foundation for any operation. Learn more about taranis.ag.