A Word with Al
Al Eisaian, co-founder and CEO of IntelinAir, is a serial entrepreneur and tech industry executive who has founded and led four innovative companies in the last couple of decades with three successful exits. Al’s passion has always centered on transforming data into valuable insight.
IntelinAir is an analytics company that delivers crop intelligence to farmers through aerial imagery, computer vision, machine learning, agronomic science, and intelligent user interfaces. IntelinAir’s goal is to organize and digitize the world’s crop information and performance — making it universally accessible and useful to deliver high yields, greater efficiencies, and sustainable farming to feed the human race.
What key challenges are farmers and other stakeholders facing today, and how are you combatting those challenges?
Growers have faced the uncertainty of trade wars and increasing pressure from competition in fast-growing regions like Brazil. On top of that, you have the usual problems with storms, pests, and disease. Income is down across nearly every crop — 9% on average, according to USDA. To restore profitability, farmers are going to need powerful tools that can replace uncertainty with the confidence they’re making the right decisions under every circumstance. IntelinAir’s whole-farm intelligence platform does just that. It takes a wide array of data from high-res imagery, soil samples, IoT devices, farm equipment, weather reports, and so on, converting it into actionable insight. So instead of guessing what to do, they’ll know what to do. They’ll have the confidence that comes from knowing they’re doing exactly what the best agronomic science suggests they should do. Higher yields and higher profits will follow.
What does your new technology and collaboration mean for your customers? What does it mean for the wider ag industry?
There’s no point in having the best technology if it’s too hard to use. That’s why we devoted a great deal of effort into making our flagship product, AgMRI, so easy to use that it only takes one click to add value. And for 2020, we’ve made massive upgrades — with AgMRI 3.0, you don’t even need to click. Growers can “Ask SIRI” when they want quick answers and access to alerts and top trends.
We’re also thrilled to have been selected to join NVIDIA’s Inception program. NVIDIA is the maker of cutting-edge computer hardware and is a pioneer in artificial intelligence. The company created Inception to support the most promising startups that have pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in AI. We intend to use the new resources at our disposal to expand research and accelerate our work toward a more modern agriculture. And we hope to share our insight, working openly with the ag community to build a more sustainable future.
What changes in the industry are you seeing, and how does your technology fit into that?
Technology is allowing the industry to offer services that are more tailored to the customer’s needs. For instance, people expect to have the option of doing everything online, whether it’s paying bills or buying tickets to the latest blockbuster movie. More and more, growers are demanding the same convenience on the farm. So our customers are excited to have powerful analytical capabilities at their fingertips — or just one “Hey, Siri” away with our new iPhone app. AgMRI takes in information all season long, watching over the fields 24/7 and alerting farmers to problems while there’s still time to fix them.
With the changing climate, we’re also seeing increased acceptance throughout the industry of the fact we need to grow food more responsibly. AgMRI is contributing to the solution by helping farmers grow smarter, using just the right amount of inputs, trading away waste and runoff for a more sustainable future.
What direction do you think digital ag will take in the next five years?
There’s no question that growing without AI support tools will be as unthinkable five years from now as trying to run a large farm without a tractor. Deep learning, computer vision, and advanced analytics provide so much of an advantage that it will be impossible to stay competitive without it. Our latest version of AgMRI adds game-changing capabilities for 2020, and we have a roadmap filled with exciting breakthroughs planned for the days and years ahead. So I know there are good things to come. The great thing about the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit is we’re going to learn from others who have just as many great ideas. We can, and must, all work together to build a modern agriculture that’s consistently predictable, profitable, and sustainable.
Al Eisaian will speak at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit on March 18: “AI: The Next Frontier in Making Agriculture Smarter”