Interview With Greg Jaeger Chong
Describe your product or service:
“Cyber Farms is an enabler and an educator of smart agricultural practices, we aim to provide cutting-edge technology such as data analytics, computer vision, digital twin, IoT with VR, AI, AR, and robotics to increase the quantity and quality of food.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“CyberFarms Manifesto by Greg Jaeger
- Do good, always!
- Think global, act local
- Use off-the-shelf’s technologies with traditional agricultural solutions
- Teach and learn
- Be humble and respectful to all
- It's not what you connect but how you connect them
- Circular design in mind
- Efficiency is measured by regeneration
- Take as much data-driven decision as possible
- People are priority; therefore, food production has to be healthy and nutritious
The Cyber farmer way!
The world is an ever-changing organism, as it evolves, so do we as a human race. Our tools have led us into becoming what we are today. It all started with a rock, then a stick, fire, plows, and suddenly, agriculture was born. As humans settled, we domesticated plants and animals forever. After this macro-level domestication, the human population grew exponentially, until this day. If the tendency keeps going as it is, we will be over 9.7 billion people in 2050.
Our own evolution has brought new agrotechnology that has enhanced our food supply system. We can now eat fresh tropical foods every day regardless where we are all year round, thanks to the supply chain system with hardly any economic impact. Nonetheless, we live on a finite planet. The weather is changing and becoming less stable, the soils (due to the excess of pesticides) have become more acidic, fresh water is becoming scarce on a world where most of the produced food is wasted due to transportation and utopic quality control.
We believe we can create a world free of hunger by using out-of-the-shelf’s technologies agrotechnology, anywhere! Together with your local knowledge of what are the needs in your neighborhood, we can create a friendly social environment around food. A social technology center, focused on the people and their food needs. We live in a world shaped by food, a Sitopia (sitos — food; topos — place). Let us help us build the new Sitopia, together!”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Tina — Lighting and plant nutrition expert, Gregor – Project Management, Jean-Pierre – Experienced Farm Manager, Toño – Robotics and mechanical design expert, Abdul – CEO agricultural Co., Suvrajit – Founder Klimazone labs”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“The lack of regenerative food systems, [and] the haunting need to rethink our current food production. I am a third generation farmer who is the black sheep of the family by studying abroad and becoming an engineer. I have lived [wth] the crippled food supply system, as my parents have experienced it. I have learned a lot of different skills in my life, and now, I have the experience to set something in motion.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“My mom was sick, and I had to travel to Mexico. While being there, I rekindled [with] my roots. I realized we do not have to invent the wheel. The Aztecs have built aquaponics systems in what used to be the lake of now Mexico City. I made a semi-automatic system at home to grow chilies. So, I did two pitches online, and with that, I got a project in Hamburg which with my concepts has won further grants. And of course, with the pandemic and how fragile the current supply chain system is, there is a need [to rethink] how we get our nutrients.The inversion of agritech has been increasing in the last years and will grow as the climate change challenges intensify.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“I wanted to go away from greenwashing and bring my Maya heritage to the next level. So, I pictured a modern, high-tech Palenque. Inspired by a Mayan sculpture called ‘the astronaut,’ Meiraj and myself finalized with Cyberfarms. The cyberpunk Palenque city — technology-driven and regenerative! The future I would like to see.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“Finding a project and people to trust … Finding a co-founder who actually understands not only the technical aspect of it but also the business model is not an easy task. Cyberfarms is still young, and we will have a lot of other challenges. The hardest so far is hearing people wanting to quit their jobs to work with me and not having enough budget to hire them.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Food pods for awareness and regenerative cyberfarms for markets in Germany.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“Online presence with workshops and seminars.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“# kgs of harvest/farmer
# ltrs of water saved
# of enabled regenerative systems
# of farmers trained”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“‘Sun Tzu — The Art of War’”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“You are never bored.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“Work out, time with friends and my family.”
How do you stay motivated?
“With great power comes great responsibility. I have a social responsibility to do something about what I feel is ethically wrong. Not everyone has the skill set I have, and you need someone with my skill set to tackle the food supply chain issue. Not to mention, [I have] the experience on both sides of it: farmer and engineer. Seeing my father struggle on a coffee plantation, even today. Seeing how technology has reached a point where [it] has become cheaper, especially on automation and AI.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Schedule, prioritize, and keep moving!”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“How brave each of us is.”
More on Cyberfarms
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Greg Jaeger Chong of Cyberfarms that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.