Episode 279: Competing with Silicon Valley Startups in Agtech with Emily Negrin of GEOSYS

Episode Summary

During this episode of Tech Qualified, Tristan Pelligrino and Justin Brown chat with Emily Negrin Director of Global Communication and Marketing at GEOSYS. This interview focuses on Emily’s past work experience and how she transitioned from the B2B side of the food business to the agricultural world. Emily takes a deeper dive into how she helped implement marketing strategies for a 30-year old company battling a number of new agtech startups.

Episode Highlights

  • Emily starts the interview by providing some insight into her past experiences prior to joining GEOSYS – she started her career with the consumer side of public relations and worked with several agencies in the Minneapolis area.  
  • She decided to change her career from the B2B side of the food business into the world of agriculture and “Agtech.”
  • Emily mentions how she worked for a few years at Land O’Lakes – in their wind field business and was introduced to GEOSYS from that experience. 
  • GEOSYS is actually an older company with over thirty years of experience in the agricultural technology industry. 
  • The company uses satellite imagery to monitor how crops are growing across the globe and this data is used for all of the businesses “around a farmer” which include insurance companies, bankers, commodity traders and more.
  • Emily came on board at GEOSYS about four years ago and helped them start their marketing and communications efforts.
  • GEOSYS found that a variety of Silicon Valley startups surfaced within agtech and a stronger focus on marketing and communications became inevitable in order to differentiate the company from new players.
  • Emily talks about the difference between agency work and being on the corporate side of marketing and communications.
  • GEOSYS doesn’t sell anything directly to farmers and is focused on being a trusted advisor to those who are working directly with farmers.
  • Emily talks through an earlier initiative, which was helping business people understand the market so they could ask better questions and make better decisions themselves – it wasn’t about promoting anything around GEOSYS.
  • Emily describes the overarching custom journey which is very long and requires a lot of information along the way.
  • GEOSYS has several different levels of service, some solutions are completely custom and involve a lengthy implementation process.
  • The company uses social heavily to distribute content and educate the market around the types of services it provides to farmers and the entire community.
  • GEOSYS believes that partnership efforts and open and honest communications within the team and regular communications are important for company growth.
  • She talks about how they are using content in the form of blog posts and interactive presentations (produced using Microsoft Sway).
  • She mentions that they have done promotional posts through LinkedIn and have seen success in using the LinkedIn platform to reach people.
  • GEOSYS has a dedicated business development team that’s in charge of sales and working with prospects and customers. 
  • They also have a customer success team and are looking at ways to grow and help troubleshoot issues facing customers.

Key Points

  • Emily talks about some focus areas moving forward, “…we’re also starting to take a focus of how can we use some of the data and insights that we have gained in our 30 plus years of operation to help people make some better decisions about sustainable agriculture and….where can we have a greater impact and help them best utilize their resources so that they can continue to do what they love. And a lot of times that’s farming.”
  • Emily mentions how the technology surrounding the farmer has changed quite a bit, “You know, when you think…today’s farmer has more technology in the cab of their tractor than the first spaceship that launched to the moon. You have big players like John Deere that are developing all sorts of technology for inside of their machines.”



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