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Agribusiness  June 3, 2022

One-On-One: Interview with Growcentia CEO Scott Wiley

Each month, BizWest asks a business leader to participate in a question and answer feature to help shed light on a business topic, an industry or add insight to a field of endeavor. This month, Growcentia CEO Scott Wiley answers our questions. Growcentia, a company spun out of Colorado State University that recently moved into a large new Loveland headquarters, seeks to maximize soil health to enhance plant health and yields, while minimizing the environmental impacts of agriculture. This interview has been lightly edited for length and content.

Bizwest: Your company just moved into a new headquarters — congratulations. How would you characterize Growcentia’s recent growth and how did you decide on the new HQ location?

Wiley: Growcentia’s rapid growth, especially in the past two years, caused us to outgrow our previous facility in Fort Collins. At year-end 2021, Growcentia grew revenue at a three-year compounded rate of 34%, which is more than twice the rate of the markets we serve. In 2020 alone, the company’s top-line growth was more than 65%, and we drove 40% of revenue to the bottom line. In 2021, we continued to set new monthly revenue records and achieved the second consecutive year of profitability for our young, venture-backed company. In the coming years, the company’s strategic plan calls for organic growth above its three-year compounded rate and far beyond if we decide to add acquisitions to the mix.

We chose our new location of Loveland for a few reasons. First of all, since the company was born and raised at Colorado State University, there was never any doubt we were staying in Northern Colorado. The company tapped its roots there and became woven into the fabric of the region’s burgeoning economy. We also had exacting, not-so-standard requirements for the new facility. Existing buildings in the area did not quite fit the bill, so we decided on a custom buildout. That decision led us to look at McWhinney’s new Centerra Industrial Campus in Loveland. We looked no further.

BizWest:Growcentia was spun out of Colorado State University. Could you talk a bit about CSU’s role in your joining the company as its CEO in early 2020?

Wiley: By chance, I met Matthew Wallenstein, a Growcentia co-founder and its chairman of the board, at CSU’s 2017 AgInnovation Summit. Shortly after that, upon his appointment as department head of CSU’s Soil and Crop Sciences Department, he asked me to join and chair its new industry advisory board. He also asked if I would facilitate the department’s annual strategic planning retreats during that conversation. It was easy to say yes to both, and we built an excellent rapport and working relationship over the following years. Quite by surprise, in early 2020, he asked if I was interested in joining Growcentia as its CEO. Without thinking, I said yes. A chance meeting and the wisdom of instinct brought me to the most satisfying role of my career.

BizWest: How has Growcentia’s relationship with CSU Ventures helped bring the company from startup stage to where it stands now?

Wiley: Without CSU Ventures, Growcentia would not exist. Our company came to life when it obtained an exclusive license from CSU Ventures to commercialize patented technology developed by Growcentia’s three co-founders while they were professors and researchers at CSU. Beyond granting a patent license, CSU Ventures has been instrumental to the company’s development and growth. For instance, it helped hone the company’s entrepreneurial and business capabilities, manage its intellectual property portfolio, obtain additional international patents and identify and engage with strategic partners. And just last year, CSU Ventures invited Growcentia to co-sponsor the University-Industry Consortium, an annual gathering of academic and industry leaders from throughout the country concerned with creating the agroecosystems of the future.

BizWest: Historically, Growcentia’s signature product Mammoth P has been used in the cannabis space. However, the technology has other applications, both for indoor and outdoor agriculture. Do you see this expansion beyond cannabis as a way for companies to both grow beyond that space (which is still somewhat limited due to federal prohibitions) and to keep fresh ideas and technology flowing into the broader agriculture industry?  Seems like a win-win.

Wiley: Cannabis is a new industry, so innovation abounds. In Growcentia’s early days, the cannabis industry discovered Mammoth P and gave it a chance. In return, Growcentia gave cannabis the best biological agtech in the business. Growcentia and other innovators in the cannabis industry can indeed grow their companies by extending their products into other markets. But be aware. To do so, a company must demonstrate its products are effective with other crops and be able to establish distribution to the new customer base. Both are easier said than done.

With the invention of Mammoth P, Growcentia demonstrated how science could harness the power of nature to grow crops in ways never thought possible. Mammoth P and similar biological technologies help growers produce healthier and more profitable crops of all types, so why would a company limit itself to any one market when the technology is relevant and needed by others? So, I agree with you. The transfer of innovation from cannabis to other markets is a win-win scenario.

BizWest: You recently held a celebration for the grand opening of Growcentia’s new Loveland headquarters and there were quite a few local luminaries at the event. How has the process of setting up shop in town treated you? Do you feel like Loveland is wrapping its arms around you?

Wiley: We sure did have quite a few local leaders join us for our grand opening. We were honored and thrilled that Loveland Mayor Jacki Marsh, city manager Stephen Adams, economic development director Kelly Jones and business development specialist Jack Hill attended the celebration to welcome Growcentia to Loveland. Mayor Marsh joined the company’s three co-founders, Drs. Matthew Wallenstein, Colin Bell, and Richard Conant, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate our company’s new home in Loveland.

Setting up shop in Loveland was an easy and fantastic experience. From the very beginning, the city of Loveland and the community were excited about Growcentia’s plan to build its new headquarters in the city. They supported and pointed us toward the information and resources we needed to execute the move. Everyone we have encountered has been very eager to get us acquainted with other leaders and businesses in the community. We cannot wait to meet them and make new friends in our chosen city.

Read related story from BizWest archives: Growcentia opens new Loveland headquarters

Each month, BizWest asks a business leader to participate in a question and answer feature to help shed light on a business topic, an industry or add insight to a field of endeavor. This month, Growcentia CEO Scott Wiley answers our questions. Growcentia, a company spun out of Colorado State University that recently moved into a large new Loveland headquarters, seeks to maximize soil health to enhance plant health and yields, while minimizing the environmental impacts of agriculture. This interview has been lightly edited for length and content.

Bizwest: Your company just moved into a new headquarters — congratulations. How…

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