Allison Kopf, founder and CEO, Agrilyst

She created a digital dashboard for indoor farmers to fine-tune their crops

Kopf at her alma mater, Santa Clara University, where she serves on the engineering advisory board (Photo by Joanne H. Lee/ Santa Clara University)

To feed a hungry world, farmers will increasingly be growing crops indoors, which hugely boosts efficiency. This trend gave Allison Kopf a compelling idea. She’s the founder and CEO of Agrilyst, a Brooklyn-based startup that has created a data platform to help farmers fine-tune their growing conditions. Described as the “Google Analytics of agriculture,” Agrilyst is the first of its kind to give greenhouse growers the ability to digitally track maintenance and metrics for their indoor crops. The result: plant performance goes up and operating expenses decline. The software gives farmers the kind of online-intelligence tools that have transformed other industries.

“Every other business in the world has adopted business intelligence, has fed in data in some regard. Farming has sort of lagged behind,” Kopf tells us in our podcast. “One of the biggest misconceptions that I hear a lot is that farmers are low tech-savvy. That legacy thinking isn’t true—farmers are thinking more than any other business about how to improve their business.”

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Agrilyst has quickly risen to become a part of that industry evolution since its 2015 win in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. “One of the great things that came out of Disrupt was not just winning, but all of the relationships and ongoing relationships [that we built].” Next came funding, a $1 million seed round led last year by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. When asked how she chose Brooklyn as the company’s base, her response was simple: “It is a really supportive community. It’s an ecosystem.”

As a pioneer in the newfound idea of digital horticulture, Kopf was named 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year by Brooklyn and Changemaker of the Year by the Association for Vertical Farming. She stays well-connected with education, serving on the engineering advisory board at her alma mater, Santa Clara University; advising Cornell University’s controlled-environment agriculture program; and mentoring with #BUILTBYGIRLS, a program that guides young women in high school who aim to pursue tech careers. –By Kora Feder