The Bread and Butter Letter 6: Chinmay Soman from EarthSense
A bread and butter letter is a letter of thanks for hospitality…our version is full of gratitude, thank-yous and advice and will feature founders we’ve backed, our team, and friends of B&B.
Chinmay Soman is the CEO and founder of EarthSense, a startup creating the robots and AI that will help us run our planet better. Chinmay points out that humanity faces unprecedented challenges over the next century, with accelerating climate change, growing population, and collapsing ecosystems. He launched Earthsense to help create crops that consume fewer resources, are resilient to climate shocks, and produce better food.
EarthSense’s under-canopy robot TerraSentia autonomously collects data on traits for plant health, physiology, and stress response. It has already been deployed in corn, soybean, wheat, sorghum, vegetable crops, orchards, and vineyards.
Chinmay spoke with us about some of the people, things and choices he is most thankful for as an entrepreneur
Is there a person from growing up who you feel thankful towards?
There are so many! But most of all, my parents. Their support, encouragement, and, motivations been essential for me to have the confidence to attempt ambitious goals, and their moral guidance has been the biggest influence on my choice of missions.
Who was instrumental at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey?
Without a doubt, my wife. She’s been the rock that has encouraged, supported, and honestly, endured me. Without her unconditional backing and wise counsel, the crazy hurdles of the past 15 years would have been impossible to navigate.
What books, podcasts, or blogs have really inspired you as a leader?
Warren Buffett’s Letters to Shareholders are essential reading for anyone who wants to build a large, and long-lasting enterprise. Simple prose laying out timeless business principles with clear examples. And all of this deep, time-tested wisdom is available for free!
Another good resource is Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast. It’s great to dip in and out as you want.
Finally, Influence by Bob Cialdini is a great book. As entrepreneurs, our most important task is convincing people to support the mission. Influence has a great range of tools we can practice to motivate people — inside and outside the startup.
Who is an unsung person at your company you’d like to highlight?
We have been extremely lucky to have had everyone at EarthSense be ridiculously talented and hardworking. However, we are most grateful for the high-school and college students who have interned at EarthSense since the beginning. Their unbridled enthusiasm and optimism keep us inspired through challenging times.
What do you look back on and thank yourself for doing when you started your company (i.e. what would you recommend to others?)
There are two things that I’m really thankful we committed to — (1) building a team that could fight well and (2) really listen to a huge variety of potential customers before we started building anything. This has enabled us to identify a unique path that allows us to monetize short-term technical achievements on our way to the long-term mission.