With a double degree from Sciences Po and a BPREA, Alexia Rey founded NeoFarm in 2018. Her atypical profile between entrepreneurship and agriculture allowed her to take advantage of the best of both worlds: she tells us about her journey and slips in some advice to start her professional adventure in the living sector well.
You have an "atypical" profile, both startup and market gardening: how do you manage this binarity on a daily basis and how is it perceived by the tech and agriculture sectors?
I had never seen it that way, the term "binarity" is interesting! I think that innovation may seem to be in opposition to agriculture, but in my opinion this is a perception of the general public, because it is an extremely innovative sector, whether it is technological innovation, of course, but also innovation in practices, as with agroecology, water issues or other areas of research.
I think that profiles like mine, with a first professional experience outside the agricultural world, are more and more numerous and can bring a lot to the daily life, either in existing structures or in the creation of new agricultural enterprises. Specific skills, new ideas, enthusiasm, a different look... It is a crucial sector for society, which faces many challenges and is in full renewal, especially in the context of climate change.
Obviously, one can sometimes doubt one's legitimacy or feel discouraged, but I think that by persevering, with curiosity and humility, one has all the keys to learn and feel more and more at one's place and in action! This is what I feel on a daily basis, especially when I see all the people around me or the encounters I have been lucky enough to make in the last six years.
Do you think that your profile was an asset to create NeoFarm?
Probably in some aspects, just as it must have been an obstacle in other situations! NeoFarm would surely be a different company if I wasn't the founder, and I think this is the case for many professional or human adventures. My previous experiences in tech and impact made me aware of environmental issues and convinced me that innovation could be a real tool to address them. When you have a passion for a subject, the desire to learn or to train and the motivation to contribute to the building, that's the main thing in my opinion: you shouldn't think too much in terms of profile or initial education.
What would you say to women who want to get into tech or agriculture?
Ladies, follow your passions and desires, life is short and the world needs you! Yes, it's scary to face a world you don't know, the questions of those around you, a professional change or even the possibility of making mistakes and failing. However, there is nothing more gratifying than to feel like you belong, doing concrete things every day, alongside passionate and committed people. Then, once the seed is planted (I like agricultural metaphors!), you must not rush: it is necessary to build your project, to get information by meeting people who do what you are interested in, to immerse yourself in the field, to get trained (short and long training courses exist).
Accept to listen to all the experiences shared, even the negative ones, and confront them with your expectations to build your own project. Finally, whether it is about entrepreneurship or reconversion in the agricultural sector, talk about your project and be open to remarks, advice and even criticism. It is not always pleasant to hear, it can be time consuming to have to adapt, but it is a lot of time saved over the many years that will follow. However, don't let yourself be discouraged, because the game is worth the candle!
Alexia participated in the Farm'Her training at Hectar