We talked to Luis Macias of GrainChain about supply chain efficiency, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Luis Macias: We are luckily, very happy, safe, and healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded GrainChain.
Luis Macias: I have nearly 20 years of experience designing, inventing, and implementing technological solutions in the government, agriculture, and insurance sectors. In 2013, my co-founders and I were approached by a large Texas farm looking to digitize its supply chain operations, improve inventory management, and enable fast, secure, and easy payment. There was no satisfactory solution on the market, so we set out to build one and created SiloSys. Over the years, SiloSys expanded, and we saw a need and an opportunity to simplify the flow of the entire supply chain. In 2018, GrainChain was officially founded to accomplish this.
How does GrainChain innovate?
Luis Macias: We’re applying technology the right way to solve real-world problems. Each of our products was developed to solve a particular problem or streamline a process that we have seen our customers deal with.
SiloSys brought automation and digitization to inventory management, but that brought to light the challenges producers and buyers faced when trying to buy and sell that commodity, as well as the logistical challenges of moving them from the farm to the storage warehouse. So we built Trumodity and HarvX to address those issues and work seamlessly together.
More recently, we’ve seen a need to track and audit information on seeds, fertilizer, and everything else that happens before the harvest. Seeing no solution on the market that worked and our other products did further down the supply chain, we built Seed Audit.
Our products are continuously improved through a focused, disciplined development process that pushes our team to constantly innovate and iterate. This is what keeps us moving forward.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Luis Macias: In terms of our company, the pandemic forced us to quickly transition to fully remote in the early days of the crisis. We already used a wide range of cloud-based tools and platforms to communicate, manage projects, and share files before COVID hit, so our shift wasn’t as dramatic or disruptive as it has been for others. We have learned how to take full advantage of these tools and continue to thrive and grow.
In terms of the agricultural industry we work with, COVID has created significant disruptions in the supply chain, doing our work that much more valuable as the demand for traceability and reliable data increases as participants plan for a post-COVID future.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Luis Macias: We have been thinking about doing a combination office and remote work environment before the pandemic, and as things unfolded with Covid-19, this became essential for our operation. Because we started studying and implementing the systems and security measures necessary for a remote work environment early, before it was actually a necessity, our transition was very efficient and quick. The main lesson is the future can be unpredictable and navigating a business through any challenge that presents itself, doing the work that enables flexibility sets the business up for the greatest chance of success.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and GrainChain in the future?
Luis Macias: Stress is part of life, especially in the life of an entrepreneur and a startup company. I believe transmuting stress and anxiety into a constructive action or energy is what is important. Some level of stress is healthy and necessary for growth; it’s what prevents stagnation and propels us to take calculated risks and actions to push the business forward. We see ourselves continuing down the path we are in. We are a relatively new company making a positive impact on the industry through vision, innovation, and persistence. We see ourselves as expanding into more countries, launching additional products that improve the supply chain’s efficiencies and make it more transparent and equitable to farmers.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Luis Macias: There are a number of companies that are working to improve efficiency, traceability, and reliability along the supply chain, but most of them are targeting only specific stages. We believe no one is really tackling supply chain efficiency, reliability, and traceability in the holistic way that GrainChain does, nor are they applying technology in the way we are. That is what will keep us ahead of the game.
Your final thoughts?
Luis Macias: We believe that the future looks very much like the past in the sense that there will always be challenges mixed with opportunities. Covid-19 is a clear and most recent example of it. We strive to maximize all the opportunities and make a contribution to the world through our efforts while preparing for any challenge that comes our way the best we can.
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