Origin Story Interview W/ Dágon Ribeiro, Biotecland

Origin Story Interview W/ Dágon Ribeiro, Biotecland

Brighter Future

 / 

Jun 30, 2022

#BrighterFuture #entrepreneurship #Sustainability #ClimateChangeSolution #originstoryseries #seekthechange #SustainableAgriculture #Agrobiotechnology #Microalgae #healthysoil #Bioeconomy

Brighter Future

Today, we’re lucky enough to be joined by Dágon Ribeiro, the CEO of Biotecland, a mission-driven company that uses applied microbiology, especially microalgae, to increase productivity, reduce costs and have an environmental impact on agriculture. Biotecland is a specialist in the production of microorganisms for applications in agricultural systems, aiming to improve soil quality and promote plant resistance.

Hi, Dágon! It’s such a pleasure to speak to you today. We’re excited to learn more about you and Biotecland. To kick things off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from?

I was born in 1990 in a city called Dourados in Brazil, which is located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. My lineage is a mix of indigenous natives of the region and Africans and Europeans. I’m currently living in Brasília, the capital of Brazil, where I work as the CEO of my company, Biotecland.

Amazing! Brazil is such a beautiful country—and Biotecland is a truly innovative company. How did the idea for it come about?

In 2009, I started a biotechnology course at the Federal University of Grande Dourados (UFGD). From the very beginning, I noticed that it was difficult to explain to others what biotechnology means. However, presenting the final product or service made my explanations a little easier. As I progressed through that course, my desire to create a business and develop a technology of my own grew stronger.

I completed a master’s and PhD, specialising in biodiversity, biotechnology and bioeconomy. I focused on microalgae as an object of study, which I believe is one of the main technologies for sustainable development.

And the end of my doctorate, I met an agricultural engineer who would go on to become my business partner. Together, we created Biotecland, a agrobiotechnology startup that specialises in the use of microalgae for sustainable agriculture.

How fascinating! It sounds like you were on a clear path to entrepreneurial success from early on. What motivated you to tackle the difficult problem of sustainable technologies?

I have always tried to find solutions that can help my community and those around me. Because of my educational background, I understood that biotechnology and microorganisms could be important tools for promoting sustainable development. My specialisation in biotechnology also motivated me to be a reference for others and contribute directly to food production in a sustainable way. For example, by using microalgae for sustainable agriculture.

I want to encourage and support agricultural producers, as they are mostly dependent on multinationals and chemical industries. I’m motivated by the goal of using sustainable agricultural inputs to ensure economically viable and environmentally correct production, resulting in food security for an entire community.

That’s an ambitious goal, but you’re out here achieving it! When you think back to those early days, when Biotecland was just an idea, how did you know you could create something that was better or different to what was already in use? Did your life experiences contribute to your perspective in any way?

Coming from a region in the interior of the country, the importance of democratisation and the expansion of technologies to the people who need them most, like those far from large metropolitan areas, was always very clear to me. Currently, I’m based in the capital of Brazil, but my mission is to take these technologies to the countryside and create connections for sustainable development.

That’s so true! Rural areas—where innovative technologies are typically needed more than anywhere else—are often overlooked by entrepreneurs, and even by governments! Starting a business never goes exactly to plan. That’s why a flexible, adaptable mindset is essential. Were there times when you took a different direction than originally planned?

Yes! Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I have always been motivated to create sustainable technologies that solve the great challenges of our century. I also want to be able to bring these technologies to those who need it most. In my youth, I relied on words and art to communicate or create some change. However, over time, I adapted this approach. I specialised my skills, contributed to the development of research, provided guidance, and even acted as a teacher. More recently, I took on this role as an entrepreneur, which means I’m able to contribute to the world and reach my goals through sustainable technology for food production.

The entrepreneurial life is a difficult but rewarding one. The hours are often long and failures, large and small, are inevitable. It takes a strong person to choose that life. Have you experienced any failures in your journey with Biotecland, and what have you learned from them?

As I matured, I learned the importance of connections. Connecting with different people generates a lot of learning. It helps you to understand different realities. However, if I think about my failures, they are mostly linked to business partnerships that didn’t work out because we had different views. In addition, I placed my trust in some people who did not prove to be reliable or honest. What these failures taught me is that regardless of the sector, there will always be people with good intentions and people with bad intentions. It’s important not to be afraid of connections, but you must learn from past mistakes. You have to learn to quickly identify what is an opportunity and what is a trap.

You’re certainly not the first entrepreneur to list a partnership choice among their top failures. On a more positive note, many entrepreneurs also mention the occurrence of an “aha!” moment—a moment when things finally click into place or suddenly make sense. Have you ever experienced a moment like this?

Absolutely! I’m a big fan of innovation, and that’s why I’ve had different “aha!” moments. I’m always looking for the new, and the new is often surprising. In the world of entrepreneurship, specifically, I believe I experienced an “aha!” moment during my PhD, when I met my current business partner. I instantly knew I had found someone who shared my vision for a more sustainable future.

We know that starting a business takes more than just passion and a great idea. Building a successful business takes hard work and sacrifice. What were your sacrifices to get to where you are now?

I made it my life goal to build something meaningful that will benefit my family and my surrounding community. However, on this path, I have had countless experiences that could be considered a sacrifice. I believe that these difficulties are signs that we’re growing and need to stretch ourselves. Every sacrifice in terms of hours, money and energy helps me to overcome difficulties and become a better version of myself.

Speaking of sacrifices, as a society, we know we have to make some changes to ensure a better future for the next generation. We’re curious to hear a little about how you envision the future.

I have closely followed all the modern crises in the world. As a young man, I would imagine the thousands of actions that could be taken to solve these crises and reduce the great suffering that the world is going through.

Today, I have a vision that food production, in a sustainable, technological and automated way, can be made easily accessible to vulnerable communities, small producers and even large metropolitan areas. On the scale of wellbeing, food and water are essential for the stability of a population. In my opinion, the shape the future takes will depend on whether or not we manage to create a sustainable planet where the resources we take for granted today will be available to future generations.

That’s a beautiful vision for the future. We can only hope that our individual actions and the actions of companies like Biotecland will ensure a brighter future for our next generations. When future generations look back on your life and what you have achieved, what do you hope they’ll take away from your story?

I believe that each of us has a mission, and it’s very much unique to us and the people around us. No encounter is a coincidence. It is always the result of choices made and a path taken. When people look back at me and my work, I hope that something good will emerge, whether that’s a memory of a lived moment, a poem, a song, a joke, a class, or, for some, the benefit of the products we’ve created at Biotecland and the actions we’ve taken.

You’ve achieved so much with Biotecland in a short amount of time. There are many up-and-coming entrepreneurs, young and old, who are just starting out on their journey and are reading this interview right now. What advice do you have for them?  

My advice is to never give up on completing your noble mission. It can take a long time to understand the reason for your existence and what your noble mission is, but when you have that answer, take action and make the choices that move you closer to your vision. There are no shortcuts. It’s about taking action in the right direction day after day. Time goes by fast, but there’s also no need to rush. Just make sure you enjoy every moment.

Excellent advice, Dágon! Incremental progress, no matter how small or how slow, can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, we’ve reached the end of this exciting conversation. It was great to have the opportunity to speak to you today. To wrap it up, we’ve got one last question for you: If there was one lasting message you could share with the world, what would it be?

Bioeconomy is action in the present so that there is a future!

Resources are becoming increasingly scarce, so we need to act fast. One day, I heard from a young doctor who works in the reforestation of the Amazon. He said, “It’s not enough to fight deforestation. We have to take active action in reforestation. We must produce millions of trees every year to contribute to the regeneration of the ecosystem and cherish the resources of the future generation”. Whoever plants the seed of a great Baobab is doing it for the future generation, in a journey of alternating generations, and today, in an even more global way, we’re contributing to this creation and strengthening this great network of protection for the planet.

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A huge thank you to our inspiring guest Dágon Ribeiro from Biotecland! If you would like to find out more about Dágon and Biotecland, you can find him at: www.biotecland.com.

To stay up to date with all of our latest content and interviews with amazing entrepreneurs like Dágon, subscribe to the Brighter Future newsletter here.

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