Casey Niemann, Founder of AgriSync, was the guest for February’s Square One DSM Startup Stories Event on Wednesday, Feb. 15. AgriSync is a software-as-a-service provider focused on business-to-business support and service enablement in the agriculture sector. Niemann founded AgriSync in 2014. He spoke about his transition from working in the big tech company of Microsoft to now running a startup focused on the ag tech space.
Here are some lessons Niemann shared with the audience.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
How did Niemann, a “farm kid” from Kansas, get his start at Microsoft, one of the nation’s most renowned technology companies? He read an article on Jeff Raikes, a “farm kid” from Nebraska who was one of the early employees at Microsoft and eventually became the President of the Microsoft Business Division. Niemann reached out to ask for advice, and ended up getting offered a job. As he describes it, his career at Microsoft came about because he reached out to the right person.
Understand your vertical
A corporation like Microsoft is focused on horizontally serving many markets. AgriSync and most tech startup companies are focused on vertical markets. As important as it is to know the technology, entrepreneurs must have an intimate knowledge of the market.
Show your customers the bottom line
Niemann knew AgriSync’s product was solid — helping to quickly connect farmers in the field to service providers without requiring those providers to make a trip to the farm. The financial model is based on service providers using his technology. To win them over, he had to show the hard facts to prove that they would see a solid return on investment. He has been able to successfully make the case to customers that they can make up the cost for an entire year of his service by using it once, while saving costs associated with making trips to the field.
Find the skill sets you need
Niemann is not a developer, and as he started AgriSync he relied on the help of developers he had worked with at Microsoft. He realized that it took a different skill set to build the software AgriSync needed. He had to reevaluate who he hired to get people who had the right skill set for AgriSync.
Filter customer feedback
While it is important to react to customer feedback, it is equally important to make sure your customers know who you are and what you can and cannot offer, Niemann said. That will help your business stay focused on solving the core problem that it has set out to solve. Niemann listens for the things he hears repeatedly on sales calls.
Click here to register for the next Square One DSM Startup Stories event on Wednesday, March 15, featuring Kellie Markey, Founder and Executive Director of Dorothy’s House.