“I became a scientist and researcher because it was my passion — why would I ever need marketing?”
I would soon realize that the best ideas don’t always win, but the best marketing does. The realization hit me hard when attending a marketing panel shortly after I started the IndieBio accelerator in San Francisco. Before 2017, my technology development training at the University of Florida (UF) prepared me to use the scientific tools to develop a technology from the laboratory to the field. However, business development, commercialization, and marketing were totally new and scary territory for me. So, I decided to deal with the new business territory, one piece at a time, starting with marketing.
Interview with Dr. Fatma Kaplan and Cameron Schiller, founders of Pheronym, which is an agricultural biotech company that provides safe, non-toxic, and innovative solutions to solve numerous agricultural problems. They also recently received funding for the development of space nematodes under the project AstroNematode. AstroNematode is interstellar agriculture for Earth and a small step for a nematode but a giant step for agriculture in space. The first agriculture biocontrol experiment will launch on December 4, 2019, and provide data to pave the way for sustainable agriculture on and outside of Earth.
How the project got started and where they found funding.
The best qualities of the project and what it can provide data scientists.
Their contingencies when the project doesn’t work as planned.
The kind of animals NASA plans to take to Mars.
Why they think nematodes can survive and reproduce in space.
The upcoming launch and how the nematodes will be packaged.
Making sure the experiments are running smoothly while they remain on Earth.
How they manage to run a startup and the nematode project at the same time.
Pheronym is honored to be among the 16 companies selected to present at the Florida Aerospace Capital Forum on November 6, 2019, in Lake Nona, Orlando.
To support long term space exploration, we need to develop agricultural technologies. Pheronym is doing just that and the only Food and Agribusiness company and also among the 4 companies selected from outside Florida to present at the Florida Aerospace Forum.
Karl Cameron Schiller, co-founder of Pheronym, will present our technology using nematode pheromones to control agricultural pests for sustainable eco-friendly solutions in Lake Nona. For space explorations, non-toxic pest control solutions become even more important due to limited air in space. Pheronym is sending good nematodes, microscopic roundworms, to International Space Station on December 4, on SpaceX CRS19. This is also the first agriculture biocontrol experiment in Space. To learn more about Pheronym’s mission on Earth and beyond, stop by and talk to him.
Dr. Fatma Kaplan is honored to be invited to AgStart’s Founder Education workshops. Dr. Fatma Kaplan, CEO of Pheronym, will describe her company’s journey through a series of legal and financial milestones as her company has progressed, including corporate organization and re-organization, intellectual property filings, working with an accelerator, two different financing transactions, and a host of partnering agreements with government, corporate and other players for services, testing, and collaboration while protecting her company’s interests.
Entrepreneurs anticipating similar milestones in their future come and talk to us at Greenberg Traurig, LLP (1201 K Street, 12th Floor Conference Center, Sacramento, CA 95814) on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM PST.
It’s not every day a pioneer in a biopesticide market, Dr. Pam Marrone, agrees to be your business mentor. Biopesticides provide eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives to farmers for pest management. Biopesticides have two major groups: 1- Agbiologicals/biocontrol agents such as bacteria, nematodes, and fungus, and 2- Agbiochemicals including soap, extracts from other microorganisms or plants, and pheromones.
Recently, Dr. Frances Arnold, a Nobel Prize-winning woman, started an insect pheromone company because she also saw the value biopesticides bring to agriculture, our environment, and health.
Very recently, I, Dr. Fatma Kaplan, started a nematode pheromone company, Pheronym, Inc. which is bringing a new kind of pheromone to the market as an eco-friendly sustainable solution. It was an idea two years ago. Now, in 2019, through development and testing, it is a proven technology.
Pheronym is an agricultural biotechnology company that uses pheromones for eco-friendly pest management solutions. The company’s technology improves plant health and crop yield using a new pheromone that controls pest insects and parasitic roundworms called nematodes. Pheronym improves the effectiveness of good (beneficial) nematodes to control insect pests in the soil and prevents bad nematodes from attacking our crops by protecting their roots.
Pheronym is unique in a number of ways. 1- The pheromones we are using are from microscopic roundworms, called nematodes. Unlike other pheromone companies, they are not derived from insects for mating disruption. 2- They are water-soluble and target pests in the soil. 3- We have different application methods — the first to be soil-applied — compared to other pheromones in the market that target above-ground pests.
As for Pheronym, we are raising funds to scale up and commercialize the nematode pheromones for pest insect and nematode control. We will bring nematode pheromones to their full potential on earth and in space when humans colonize the Moon and Mars. Pheronym will be sending the first agriculture biocontrol experiment to the International Space Station on Dec 4, 2019. In the meantime, we are utilizing the knowledge we gain from space experiments for our product development on Earth.
The September 2019 issue of PecanSouth Magazine highlighted the work we do with Dr. David Illan-Shapiro at the USDA to create new methods to control pecan weevils with beneficial nematodes. Click on the link below to read it.