We are on a mission to help agriculture become more adaptable and resilient through modern advances in technology. Joel Lipsitch, Sound Agriculture’s VP of Product Management and Marketing, is focused on making a positive change for growers, our food system, and our environment with science-based solutions.
Joel’s background in economics and environmental science has inspired a lifelong journey to find meaningful ways to innovate at the intersection of sustainability and business. Here, he offers a glimpse of his experiences at Sound.
What do you do for Sound Agriculture?
I lead our product management and marketing group. We focus on product development, our portfolio, and go-to-market marketing support for our chemistry and on-demand breeding technology platforms.
What about plants interests you?
I think that agriculture is interesting from a societal standpoint. We’re interested in what we eat, where it comes from, and how food supply and demand affect the world around us. What I love about plant science is that it’s a deeply scientific piece of the world of agriculture.
Complete this sentence: The magic of plant science lies in_______.
The magic of plant science lies in reframing classic questions in a new way. If you think about it, the core questions of plant science haven’t changed: How do we increase yield? How do we protect plants from disease? How do we better utilize nutrients?
We didn’t invent nutrient use efficiency. It’s been around forever. But my colleagues looked at a classic problem and said, “The rest of the world’s been approaching the issue this way, so let’s attack it in a totally different way.” I think that’s where the magic lies—in seeing the possibility to tackle enduring challenges in a new way.
What do you foresee as the future of sustainable agriculture?
The future of sustainable agriculture lies in the innovation of new companies like ours that are addressing age-old problems; that are not afraid to take a risk; that are learning quickly, failing fast, and improving. I think all the things I just described are things I struggled with when I worked at bigger companies. The big companies certainly have power and resources, capability, and reach, but the future lies in companies like Sound Agriculture that are innovating at 100x the speed. That’s what drives change.
Which of Sound’s employee values is most inspiring to you?
Ownership. I think about this value in its dual meaning. You have to own your work and be invested and have some skin in the game. That’s the accountability side. But the flip side of that is that we are trying to own our future and take responsibility for making a step-change in agriculture. That is why ownership is such an inspiring value for me.
If you were a plant, what kind of plant would you be?
I would be a grapevine. I love wine. Depending on the time of year, you can walk in the vineyard and there are the gnarled old cordons that have been there forever, and the longer they’ve been there, the better. As spring emerges, you see the new shoots with inspiring growth. Later, the bountiful canopies hang heavy with fruit. I think that’s super inspiring and representative of the whole cycle of agriculture and the fact that farming is about a long-term relationship with the land.
Do you have a favorite travel memory?
I have some great travel memories. One of my favorites took place when I was in Israel for a sales meeting and we had a compliance session presented by one of the corporate representatives. Salespeople from all over the globe were sitting around the table, grouped by their native languages. The trainer stood up and started a hypothetical compliance scenario involving baseball tickets and dinner at a steakhouse in Chicago. I looked around the room and in every language people were asking, “what the heck is this guy talking about?” It was such a great reminder to always know your audience.