Farming data since 2015. I help farmers become data scientists with software. AMA: indoor farming, tech, or startups.

Allison Kopf
Nov 6, 2017

I'm the founder and CEO of Agrilyst, a VC backed agtech startup based in Brooklyn. We help farmers understand and use their data to increase margins. 

I've been working in the indoor agriculture industry for the past decade and am here to answer your questions about all things tech, farming, and startups.

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Conversation (35)

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Let's get started!  you  help me  .

to establish  agri-form,and  with  supporting  of  softerware and technology in this field  .

Nov 6, 10:09PM EST0

What is the biggest challenge we have yet to solve in indoor farming? 

Nov 6, 1:24PM EST1

I think the biggest challenge we have to solve is profitability. It takes growers years to get to profitability and we're investing more and more money into large scale indoor farms without having perfected margins. There are also more systemic things we need to think about: affordable and accessible capital (both operational and project finance), availability of labor, training programs for growers, transparency in food supply chain, food safety issues, transparency in inventory supply chain, seeds bred for indoor production are a few examples that come to mind. 

Nov 6, 5:15PM EST1

Where is indoor farming 10 years and 25 years from now? Crops grown, % grown indoors vs outdoors, etc. 

Nov 6, 1:24PM EST1

I think we'll see a similar shift like we saw in the tomato industry. Only a few decades ago, the majority of tomatoes were field-grown. Now the majority are grown in greenhouses. Crops with short growth cycles, short shelf life, and long supply chains are good for growing indoors. This is why so many folks are focused on leafy greens and herbs right now. They're high-margin and can be grown well indoors. I'd guess the lettuce industry will make the shift to mostly indoors over the next 10 years. Then we'll begin to see other crops grown indoors that follow similar patterns, like berries. We'll also see a pickup of crops grown for pharmaceutical purposes as well as insects for animal feed.

Last edited @ Nov 6, 5:24PM EST.
Nov 6, 5:23PM EST0

Where are you from?

Nov 6, 4:19AM EST0

New York.

Nov 6, 5:24PM EST0

Can you also share your scientific techniques to non-farmers but people who are interested to grow their own food at their own backyards?

Nov 6, 2:30AM EST1

Absolutely! We have a hobby tier available for non-commercial growers. We also publish some data and tips for growers of all sizes on our blog. Here are two starting resources: and

Nov 6, 1:37PM EST0

Did you grow up on a farm?

Nov 4, 11:51PM EDT0

No. I got my start in farming in my professional life after college. I worked in some large greenhouses throughout the East Coast growing lettuces, tomatoes, and various herbs. 

Nov 6, 1:39PM EST0

What is your current net worth?

Nov 4, 4:08AM EDT0

Have you got a website?

Nov 3, 5:43PM EDT0
Nov 6, 1:39PM EST0

What part of business do you feel you need improvement in?

Nov 3, 12:10PM EDT0

What failure did you learn the most from?

Nov 2, 12:38AM EDT0

Early on, we were targeting both enterprise and small businesses. It's easy to say you'd like to sell a product to both customer segments, but it's really a different process. SMB and enterprise customers have different sales cycles, closing processes, buyers/decision makers, CAC, etc. We realized we had a lot of momentum with our small commercial growers, so we doubled down our sales efforts on that segment. As a result, not only are sales increasing, we're also able to keep building features that are hyper targeted to our customer. 

Nov 6, 5:03PM EST0

Do you currently have any projects in the works?

Nov 1, 2:24PM EDT0

A ton. Next week we're going to release alerts in the platform. That will allow farms to set thresholds on their data and receive text and in-platform alerts when things don't go as planned. We're also releasing our 2017 State of Indoor Farming in a few weeks and are busy wrapping that up. You can see last year's report at

Nov 6, 5:05PM EST0

Do you solely build online businesses?

Nov 1, 10:52AM EDT0

Yes. Agrilyst is a web-based software platform. 

Nov 6, 1:40PM EST0

What do you want for the future of your company?

Oct 31, 8:53PM EDT0

I want every single farmer who opens an indoor farm to be able to run a sustainable and profitable business. We're focused on building software that helps growers do that and get there faster. 

Nov 6, 5:06PM EST0

How long did it take you to come up with this idea?

Oct 31, 9:44AM EDT0

We've been building Agrilyst for 2 and a half years. 

Nov 6, 1:40PM EST0

How did you come up with this project?

Oct 31, 8:52AM EDT0

Before founding Agrilyst, I was the data scientist at one of the largest venture-backed indoor farming companies. It was my job to find ways to increase revenue. My biggest frustration was that we didn't have the technology to help our team do that. So I started Agrilyst to build the tools farmers could use to run their businesses more efficiently. 

Nov 6, 5:08PM EST0

How long have you been working in this field?

Oct 31, 8:22AM EDT0

About a decade.

Nov 6, 1:40PM EST0

Do you have a business degree?

Oct 31, 6:14AM EDT0

Nope. I studied Physics and Computer Engineering. 

Nov 6, 1:40PM EST0

What do you think will be the most helpful results with farmers?

Oct 31, 2:47AM EDT1

We've seen simple tools are the most helpful. It's really difficult to forecast yield in the future. Our system forecasts yield 30 days out at 90% accuracy. We also help growers look at things like space optimization, varietal selection, and crop scheduling. 

Nov 6, 5:10PM EST0

Do you work alone or with a team?

Oct 30, 11:59PM EDT0

We're a team of 7. 

Nov 6, 1:40PM EST0
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