Case Study: Crop Enhancement

Case Study: Crop Enhancement

The Big Ag Problem 

There’s a huge problem in agriculture today: Farmers are getting crunched between larger populations and less land on which to grow food. Farmers must figure out how to yield more out of each acre. In our last post, we mentioned that crop yield will need to at least double by 2050 to feed the world’s growing population. But most of the world’s farmable land is already being used, meaning we have to improve our yield from our current fields. 

The dangers are many and loom large: Insects are getting resistant to the chemicals that we’ve been using as pesticides, and Mother Nature’s tempestuous nature can wreak havoc with crops. Couple that with lower crop prices and labor that’s often hard to find, unreliable, and expensive, and it’s no wonder that the suicide rate among farmers is highest of all industries—higher than that of veterans returning from war. Despite sweat and tears, farm income is declining, and farm debt is rising. 

At its core, Crop Enhancement helps farmers sustainably increase crop yield – helping farmers produce more food to feed more people while increasing profit margins.  

“We’re developing a new product that farmers can use, and it takes a lot less work. It’s a novel approach to crop protection,” says Kevin Chen, CEO. 

Serial entrepreneur Dr. David Soane founded Crop Enhancement to use his materials science background to positively affect agriculture around the world by arming growers with more precise and versatile pest-control solutions—namely, an environmentally friendly protective coating for plants. The non-toxic treatment is a thin biodegradable film that’s applied to plants and can withstand harsh environments.  They’re making waves: Disruptor Daily named Crop Enhancement a company to watch in 2018.  

Crop Enhancement is partnering with farmers all around the globe, in both developed and under-developed economies such as the US, Asia, Central and South America, where their product stands to greatly improve quality of life for farmers and communities. “It’s so wonderful to build a relationship with these farmers, and to see how collaborative they are, even with each other.” 

Consumers Desire Sustainability 

As consumers demand more transparency and traceability in food products, they’re increasingly demanding sustainable, earth-friendly practices and end products. Crop Enhancement aims to help rejuvenate the agriculture industry to farm the land in a better way, while producing more food to sustain the population.  

Working with Early Growth Financial Services 

“When we moved to San Jose, we started looking for a CFO. Steve [Terry] and I have a common background: We both went to MIT. We’d met before he had joined Early Growth Financial Services – by the time I reached out to him, he was already on board. We’d already connected well before, so I was thrilled to go forward with him,” says Kevin. 

“We’re trying to create more value in everything we do. It’s a business, and we prioritize our time and efforts, and Early Growth has been a huge help. In moving from Cambridge to San Jose, we had to redo a lot of things, including realigning benefits to suit local employees who were previously considered remote. They stepped outside of their core services and put into place benefits and a 401(k) package for us.  

Stephen says, “There’s almost a cult-like focus on long term relationships and partnerships here at Early Growth. That’s one of the reasons I signed on. Kevin and I both do a lot of volunteer work for MIT and helped each other on various matters prior to working together, so it was a very natural progression for us. It’s a relationship built on trust built over time,” he adds.  

“Their work is definitely inspirational. They’re really doing what many people say they want to do: Make a positive impact in the world,” says Stephen. 

“Kevin follows through emphatically on promises. The culture of the company is accomplished—lots of PhDs and mature people who are very gracious—and vocally appreciative of work that others are doing. That’s something that stands out to me. It comes naturally to them because of the culture they’ve developed.” 

“By involving me in different aspects of the company (board meetings, staff meetings, etc.), Crop Enhancement gives me more opportunities to provide guidance and add value. And I love being a part of that,” Stephen says. 

To keep up with Crop Enhancement, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn, and check out their news page 

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