EP – 217 – Matas Danielevicius – CEO at Gaorai – Build Something That Affects People Forever

by | Jul 20, 2022

Matas Danielevicius is a friend, so the conversation was easy…he is also a very talented guy.  And not just his marketing skills, his leadership skills and his company building skills.  Matas is also an accomplished actor.  He is also a co-Founder and the CEO and of Gaorai.
 
Gaorai is an agri-tech platform that connects farmers to freelance agri-drone pilots. Gaorai is improving precision application and sustainability of crop protection products in Thailand and the region.
 
Some of the topics that Matas and I discussed:
  • Spending most of his professional career in Thailand
  • The struggle to maintain a good work-life balance
  • Filming and acting in a feature-length motion picture
  • Building Gaorai
  • Scaling drone technology and working with corporates
  • Helping small-holder farmers
Some other titles we considered for this episode:
  1. I’m Here to Improve My Skill, Not to Be Famous
  2. I Can Make More Daring Choices
  3. I Never Understood What I Was Eating
  4. If They See It They See It, but if Not It’s Gone Forever
  5. The Future in Drones Is So Massive
This episode was produced by Isabelle Goh.

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:31
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. I feel cursed with names but today we are happy to welcome Matas Danielevicius.

Matas Danielevicius 0:42
Well, kind of, yeah.

Michael Waitze 0:44
Tell me.

Matas Danielevicius 0:45
Danielevicius.

Michael Waitze 0:46
Danielevicius.

Matas Danielevicius 0:47
Yeah, that’s pretty good.

Michael Waitze 0:48
Which is from where? Lithuania?

Matas Danielevicius 0:50
Yes. Right. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 0:51
And you know, I actually looked at the map to find out where Lithuania was today. I mean, you and I have known each other for a long time, probably longer than you remember. But I looked at the map that I didn’t realize where it was exactly.

Matas Danielevicius 1:03
Oh, really?

Michael Waitze 1:03
So but it’s really far north.

Matas Danielevicius 1:07
Well, yeah, it is quite far north. I mean, still kind of Eastern European Europe, you know, but when

Michael Waitze 1:12
I think of Eastern Europe, I think of like, here’s Poland kind of thing. And go east. Right, or here’s Italy, in Spain and just go east. Right. But it’s way further north than I expected. No.

Matas Danielevicius 1:26
Well, yeah, it kind of strokes our ego as well. You know, we like to think of ourselves as Northern northern than anything, because well, yeah, you know, culturally and language wise, we are a bit different than very Eastern European countries, whatever that

Michael Waitze 1:41
means. But yeah, so it’s

Matas Danielevicius 1:43
kind of, you know, we have a term for it. It’s called Baltic States, you know, so we have three Baltic States, which is Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. And we are kind of free of the kind, you know.

Michael Waitze 1:57
Yeah. Estonia, we can talk a little bit about Estonia too. And all the E citizenship. Yeah, there’s going on in the Baltics. That’s so progressive. I think,

Matas Danielevicius 2:09
you know, well, it comes from necessity, we are quite small countries, you know, so and in the size of population of the land, you know, so we have to be creative in the way how we compete with other countries, and creating gateways and creating space for people to innovate is quite a unique competitive advantage. You know, so let’s say Lithuania is how

Michael Waitze 2:34
many people in Lithuania? around 3 million? Okay, so not a lot? Not smaller than Singapore?

Matas Danielevicius 2:39
Yeah, it is. And this is basically the direction it could go. And now Levine is heading towards being a gateway for FinTech companies to enter Europe. And there’s a lot of innovation in that space. There’s a lot of things happening, you know, related to FinTech, why this is the kind of a way I think that the government is supporting as well. And it makes it easy for new companies, let’s say from Asia to enter into European market, you know, to get the Euro license and other things. So the ecosystem and the environment there is pretty

Michael Waitze 3:18
supportive. And his Lithuania is part of the European Union. Yeah, we are part so the currencies Euro if I go to Yeah, I just use the same currencies in France.

Matas Danielevicius 3:26
Yes, right. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 3:28
Okay. And has it always been that way? Like, how old are you?

Matas Danielevicius 3:32
Well, I am 72. I’m gonna be 35

Michael Waitze 3:37
Oh, my God. So what does that mean? When I met you were like 14 years old.

Matas Danielevicius 3:43
Kind of kind of? Yeah, probably. So when when we met maybe six years ago. Five more.

Michael Waitze 3:48
Do you remember coming into my apartment? You were selling cinnamon bridge back then?

Matas Danielevicius 3:52
Yeah, we we met in EmQuartier.

Michael Waitze 3:56
Was it in EmQuartier? Yeah, yeah. What in truth sphere maybe?

Matas Danielevicius 3:59
Yeah, I think so. That was our first meeting. Wow. And Umbridge. Yeah, wouldn’t beverage acceleration.

Michael Waitze 4:06
But that just means that look, if you were doing cinnamon bridge, then you’d come from London. Right? If I remember correctly, so you’ve been doing this acceleration? tech stuff forever? No.

Matas Danielevicius 4:16
Well, you know, for me, because I work with my friends, high school friends, you know, you know Kas and use this and believe

Michael Waitze 4:23
you’ve known those guys since high school. Like, do you ever come to fisticuffs? You know what I mean? Like, I’ve just had enough of you guys, because it’s like, 20 or more years that you’ve known both of them

Matas Danielevicius 4:32
in VR on that? Yeah. Yeah. No, of course. I mean, it’s kind of always like this, you know, but I think we’ve learned to deal with it. So it kind of works. But basically, these guys were in London, and I started to work while I was in Thailand, you know, so I came to Thailand with a little bit different plan. I always forget this. Good. Yeah. And, and basically, my whole college career, you know, like, professional working is in Thailand. So I’m having this kind of unique thing you know that I’m a foreigner who started to work in Thailand and do things in Thailand. What were

Michael Waitze 5:05
you doing before you got to Thailand? And you weren’t still in school? Or were you getting a master’s degree or something

Matas Danielevicius 5:10
I was studying. So I was studying acting in UK. I graduated, you know, I stayed one more year, and then I moved to Thailand, you

Michael Waitze 5:16
are cursed with being ridiculously handsome? Like, how do you deal with this on a daily basis? Well, I used to say, no, but I used to say this to, to one of these women that worked at UBS, we went on this like off site. This was one of the big benefits of working at these big financial services companies that once a year or twice a year, you would leave the building and go to like a resort somewhere. In this case, we went to Okinawa, or I can’t remember where Guam, something like that. So we went to an island rented, like most of the hotel, and we sat around and did all these sort of offside style conversations. But there was, you know, there was this one woman that and I said, you’re just like I said to you like, what’s it life going through? What’s it like going through life? Just being so easy to look at? Because look at the way

Matas Danielevicius 6:01
for me, You look handsome?

Michael Waitze 6:04
Let’s stop it. I sound good, but I definitely don’t look good. For sure. Anyway, so you were studying acting?

Matas Danielevicius 6:10
Yes. So I think you know, like, everyone perceives themselves in a certain way. And, you know, yeah, I do like myself, it gives me confidence. Yeah, that could be one of the small reasons why I wanted to study acting at the beginning, a little bit more shallow reasons, you know, but in general, yeah. So I was studying acting. And it helped me a lot. You know, it helped me to find myself it helped me to, to grow up, you know, to do the research? And

Michael Waitze 6:48
do you feel like it also gives you a certain amount of poise and self awareness? Right, in the sense that when you’re not on stage, you’re still presenting yourself?

Matas Danielevicius 6:58
Well, no, yes. And no, I think that for me, you know, it How could be a very long topic, you know, what is acting? What is being on stage? What is performance? You know, if you’re running in the park, let’s say, and people are watching you running, right? Are you performing or not?

Michael Waitze 7:13
I am. So this morning, I was doing like, nobody right there this morning, I was running, I feel a responsibility. We haven’t spoken about this. But I feel some kind of responsibility, like some kind of international ambassador for people that aren’t from this country. And I haven’t lived in my home country in 30 years. So I felt like when I was on the street in Japan, walking, driving, running, riding my motorcycle in the same thing in Thailand, that I am the representation of people that come from where I come from. So if I misbehaved or did something wrong, or had a scowl on my face, that that was the representation that they got for where they perceived that I was from.

Matas Danielevicius 7:52
Yeah, I do get that as well. I mean, I am in the way that myself so I think, you know, it pushes me to keep like a higher standard, at least publicly, to behave as I want to be bringing, and being ambassador, you know, of Lithuania, of being a foreigner or something that builds and unites rather than makes people you know, aware of that, oh, this person disregards culture, and other things, and I think related to your previous question, you know, studying acting kind of, for me, it builds like a skill set. So in your kind of, in invisible space, you know, in your imagination, so while you study acting, you learn how to build tools and techniques that are with you all the time. And you can apply it all the time. I think so, you know, and that is related to awareness that is related to meditation, let’s say as well, you know, and it helps you to not necessarily perform all the time, but if you have to you already, you know, so it’s kind of

Michael Waitze 8:59
you know, when you have these friends that are good at like, football, European football, are good at basketball are good at tennis, and you know, they play but you’ve never seen them play. But you know, they have it in them. But then one day, they, you know, they just invite you to come to their football game, you’re like, wait a second, that guy’s really skilled at football. Like, I can’t believe he did that with the ball kind of thing. And then you think about that guy in a different way. Do you know what I mean? Yeah,

Matas Danielevicius 9:24
I mean, it’s just kind of

Michael Waitze 9:26
I’m just saying, because I saw you in a play once. Oh, yeah. Yeah, you remember? Yeah. And the way that theater is, and I love this kind of theater, actually, because it’s almost like immersive. Like, I felt like I was not in the audience. I felt like I was in the play.

Matas Danielevicius 9:41
Oh, that sounds cool. You know, it said the thing is, I never see myself on stage. You know, it’s

Michael Waitze 9:46
that’s the point, though, right? Because you see yourself as that thing. And I think that becoming that character was so powerful, but I also think that like I said, when you see that guy in the football game, or when you see that guy In the show, you have to think about them in a different way. Because now you understand, you know, I could just say to you like, you know, I played chess in the park. That’s neat. But until you see me playing like four guys and winning all the games and stuff, you can’t understand how good I am. Right? So I knew you were an actor. But I didn’t know you could act. Oh, no, I know.

Matas Danielevicius 10:21
Thanks for the you know what I mean? No, right. Yeah, no, I understand. And it feels good. It feels good to get this feedback.

Michael Waitze 10:28
But I think that there’s a certain amount of, and there’s a through line, I think in everything, right. I always like to tell stories of who you are, in the context of what you do acting is one of the things that you do. But I don’t think you can separate those things from the other things that you do. Is that fair?

Matas Danielevicius 10:44
I think, yeah. And I think there’s no need to separate because it adds value. You know, that’s

Michael Waitze 10:49
my point. Yeah, that’s my point there. And so a lot of people they want to talk about, like just their acting, or just their racecar driving, or just their tennis playing. But all of those things that you do combine to make you you. And they can’t be separated from all of the other things that you do, like, you know, whatnot, or Gowda, or any of the other things that you have, because you’re taking little bits and pieces of all those things, and putting them into the other things that you’re doing. No,

Matas Danielevicius 11:17
no, you’re absolutely right. And I think, you know, it is, I think, in my personal opinion, it is good to learn to separate things, you know, to understand where it’s home, where it’s work, where it’s family, this, this and that, but in general, it is whole, you know, it’s holy, that’s all you do, you know. And if you do good in one thing, you can add that knowledge into the other thing and replicate and learn and combine, you know, so that’s what I’m trying to do.

Michael Waitze 11:41
Yeah, I mean, when I was working at Goldman Sachs, they used to talk about, or I used to listen to conversations about work life balance. And I always struggled to understand like, Where was the line? Because if you’ve ever seen the movie Goodfellas, what was the work life balance for those guys? They were always either, they were always with the same people. It were always kind of working, when they weren’t working. They were talking about work, when they weren’t working. They were at the weddings of the guys that they worked with. And for me, when I was at Goldman, it was the same thing. But even today, right? You look at what you do, we can talk about God, I we can talk about whatnot, we can talk about acting. It’s a really small group of like, where’s the work life balance? Isn’t there just like a balance? Well, and because you said before you said separating this, this and that. You have to know what it is right? Like when you’re with your family, with your family, but you’re talking to your brother, your sister, your mom about acting?

Matas Danielevicius 12:40
Yeah, I think I like in personal relationships for people around me, sometimes might be challenging, because you know, I am not just, you know, to what I’m sharing, because it’s just so many things. But you know, I think that doing this kind of creative work, especially like, okay, so if we do a startup, hopefully we build a team that we stay for a long time. But let’s say we do a theater fail, play are a film, you have to assemble a team quickly that people come from different walks of life, do something together for a couple of months and disappear.

Michael Waitze 13:15
But it’s intense, though, right? It’s super intense, right. And I think this is the thing, in a way, and maybe you won’t understand this because you haven’t experienced this, but maybe you have, in a way it reminds me of summer camp. I used to go to summer camp for one month. And I used to feel like the intensity of those four weeks was so hard to replicate. And while you were there, there was like this vortex that felt like that was the center of the universe, it’s got to be the same thing for a player for me, you know, I

Matas Danielevicius 13:43
could talk about it so much, you know, this is in general, the the whole theater experience because once you build that play, okay, so you work intensely, okay, from six to two to one month, you know, very hard work with new group of people, and then you make few shows, and then it dies. You know, it disappears. So if people see it, they see it. If it’s not, it’s gone forever.

Michael Waitze 14:04
But do you feel like do you feel like during that time, you become super close with the people that are there, but then when it dies? That’s not the friendship but that relationship kind of dies as well. Not not on purpose. But because the lead goes back to doing her job, you go back to doing your thing, the director goes to New York to do another play kind of thing, and there’s no real time to maintain. The reason why I ask is because I listen to Marc Maron this podcast. Yeah, WTF in all he does is talk to people in show business, mostly comedians, comics, but also actors, directors, producers, stuff like that. And very late in life, he started acting, being in movies being late, right, and he’s like, I became such close friends, but then we don’t talk to each other at

Matas Danielevicius 14:48
all. I think that yeah, so I think again, philosophy you know, the thing is that you that’s why you need to learn to appreciate the moment because you can you can take the people with you all the way you meet so many people and these days, we have so many channels, you know, from social media, to other mediums to running in the park, running buddy, dining buddies, you know, friends, family, people, you work with multiple projects, or project lifespan could be few months to a few years. You meet people, people are rotating. But that’s why, at least for me, it’s about being in the moment. So you stay in that moment, even briefly, if it’s a month or a week, but if you give yourself you leave the impression and you might affect someone’s life in a positive way. And you know, comparing it to the summer camp, let’s say building a play, you also build a product or a film, you know, you build something that out of that vortex you have some something that people you might affect people’s life forever, you know, and this is the magic that I love. Because you you have this power, you

Michael Waitze 15:53
know, have you made a movie? I want to make a movie so badly. Yes.

Matas Danielevicius 15:57
So that’s another topic, you know, and have you? Yes, just last year. So now, I’m going through the festival circus circuit.

Michael Waitze 16:06
Wait a second, though. So you work at whatnot, I really want to understand. Okay, so you work at whatnot. It’s an accelerator, what would you call it? Oh, incubators to venture builder, venture studio startup studio. I’m struggling to understand like whether it really makes a difference. We can talk about that. Right. But and you can tell me where where misunderstands, let’s just call it a startup studio. Okay, before you do that, I saw you in a play. So I know you do that. You run your own startup god i. And actually, once I figured out or you told me what the name and I felt silly for not knowing at the beginning. Right, because I know numbers.

Matas Danielevicius 16:46
Yeah, it’s time.

Michael Waitze 16:47
And I know, right? Because I see it on signs every day. I’m like, Oh, God, I can’t believe I asked that question kind of thing. We’ll get to that in a second. But you also made a movie? Yes. I really want to understand this because I really want to make a movie. Okay, so go ahead.

Matas Danielevicius 17:01
I’ll try to be brief and explaining that whole, I don’t want to appear a person who does too many things, you know, many things, but they’re

Michael Waitze 17:10
all connected directly. That’s it. Don’t apologize for this. Because I get the same thing. And I don’t mean to interrupt you. But I get the same thing all the time. Why are you involved in so many things? And I feel like I have to carry a whiteboard with me. Yeah, because if I draw it out, it’s all related. Go ahead.

Matas Danielevicius 17:26
Exactly. That’s That’s my point. And it’s all me, basically, you know, it’s related. I’m relating all these things. I’m part of it. And so startup Studio, you know, what not startup studio is that we are a group of entrepreneurs who are building startups together and sharing resources. So I’m a co founder that, you know, and I help and support our team as much as they can. And go Ray is one of our projects, which I’m leading, you know, so this project is related to agricultural drones and spraying pesticides. We’ll get there in a minute. But my other passion, and, you know, my, this is probably the career that I’m doing the longest because I’ve been acting for more than 10 years now. You know, so I, since I graduated, I was studying acting, you know, and it’s quite a long journey, and it’s going to be my life long journey, I hope because I just love to do it right. And till now, I was doing mostly if you had to replace you know, I’m really into theater like to perform in the theater. I like the lifestyle of being with theater actors. There’s some magic that you know, can be replicated. But one thing is that I’ve mentioned before, is that, okay, if you had to replay it dies, you know, after it’s finished, it’s finished. And sometimes it’s difficult to tell someone if I meet new people in my life, you know, all I’m a theatre actor, but they don’t know how

Michael Waitze 18:48
or good I haven’t seen, it was the same for me, it’s difficult to

Matas Danielevicius 18:51
bring it out to the world, you know, for larger audience. And in the cities like Bangkok, where the ecosystem is very small, there is no much movement, there is no much critiquers not many things happening. So it kind of becomes not, I don’t want to use this word pointless. But it’s, it’s a bit overwhelming. You know, it’s tiring, even though I love the process. So, last year, I had an opportunity, actually to work with one theater director who also wanted to make a movie. And we had a chat and we said, let’s do it. It was COVID, the middle of the pandemic lock downs and everything you know, and it’s definitely best. Since we had the idea right now we have a film and it’s finished and we are applying to film festivals recently with this Film Festival. The film The director’s cut is one hour 45 minutes. Okay, so it’s a full feature film filmed in Bangkok,

Michael Waitze 19:51
how many actors or actresses?

Matas Danielevicius 19:53
Hmm, quite quite a few. Actually. I could tell you that we have a team that comes from more than 10 Different countries, from actors to the crew. So what is incredible, we managed, in the middle of pandemic, we managed to gather people from all over the world who are based in Bangkok or outside of Bangkok, you know, in France in Italy, who helped and support on making a movie, our musician and composer is based in Italy, our script writer is in France, you know, our team in Bangkok comes from from Thailand, from Lithuania, from Canada, from Argentina, Cameroon, you know, you name it, like we have people from all over the place Canada, States, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, you know, like, it’s all ensemble of people that comes from so many different countries. And, you know, during pandemic, we had restrictions, because we have locked down, you can’t do it. So it was very difficult to plan the whole process. But thankfully, people were supportive. And you know, we had to pull many strings, but we were, like lucky with support from people who come, let’s say, from tech industry, I was filming in in the Innovation Center, which I work with. So because it was empty, and and during that time,

Michael Waitze 21:08
but what kind of cameras did you shoot with?

Matas Danielevicius 21:10
So I think that was Blackmagic. Oh,

Michael Waitze 21:13
really good cameras. How many cameras did you shoot with?

Matas Danielevicius 21:16
So like, we had, like, one one major camera, you know, but like, every scene we shot, like for a few different angles, you know, so few different shots. So to kind of have secure and nice imagery.

Michael Waitze 21:31
Wow. Is there some kind of so I want to get back to this, right? Because you said theater. It’s almost like what’s the point? It almost feels like you’re performing in a vacuum. Right? And I feel like it’s the same thing. I don’t want to make a direct equivalency. But I feel like sometimes and tell me you don’t have this feeling with God is sometimes particularly at the beginning, that you’re just operating in a vacuum. You don’t I mean, the no one knows about it. It’s in a way, it’s really similar. Right? Your team has a bunch of people that are trying to accomplish something now you want it to last longer term, although a film never goes away.

Matas Danielevicius 22:03
Yeah, that’s the magic of the film that you know, it is forever, it is forever, right. It’s also a very big pressure, you know, because especially when you were making more like artistic film, you know, it’s like a statement from the directors piece, you know, so it’s not for everyone. And it was like, inspired by Paolo Pasolini, who, who is known for a very shocking, shocking type of films, you know, so we had quite explicit scenes, you know, killing sex violence, and you know, dialogues. It’s not for children. Even though now we have one more commercial cut, you know, we just created a more commercial cat more, more clean more, you know, faster pace. But yeah, so that’s something that, you know, that that continued, but related to the startup is that you’re right. The startups that we see, let’s say, that are successful, right, it could be the fifth, the 10th attempt of the same group of people, you know, and being built in that vacuum, you know, you might be working for a few years on the project, and it never sees the daylight, you know, it’s crashing, it’s very difficult process, and not many people are being able to cope with it, you know,

Michael Waitze 23:17
so I was listening to, again to Marc Maron, I don’t listen to him a lot. But every now and then he’s got somebody really interesting on I think he had this guy on called guy Tory guys a block stand up comic from somewhere in the middle of America. And he started this thing at, oh, God, some comedy club, what’s it called, at some very famous comedy club, his name just escapes him right now. In LA, and he created this thing called Fat Tuesday, so the black comedians had a place to perform. You want to talk about working in a vacuum for 13 years, he’s been working on kind of a three part documentary or film to tell the story of the origin, the building, and the death of fat Tuesdays, that’s fat PHA T Fat Tuesday. And that night, there was only black comics and black comedians. It’s a pretty incredible story. Right at the Comedy Club? I don’t know. I’ll figure it out. I’ll put it in the show notes. But the point is that for 12 of those 13 years before it came out, again, operating in a vacuum. Yeah, and it’s the same thing. And I think you’re right. You work together with the same team of people for a long time you try this, you try that you try something else. And I always say like, you’re an overnight success. 10 years later.

Matas Danielevicius 24:31
Yeah, it takes time to build it up, you know, and I’m also still on the way you know, and it’s but it’s basically what helps me is to understand that this is not my goal to be famous. My goal is to improve my skill. You know, I love that art so I’m not kind of attached to making a huge success, but it helps me to free myself. You know, I could make more daring choices, I can be more creative in the process because I don’t have pressure from myself on that topic.

Michael Waitze 25:08
But then doesn’t it inform what you build from a business perspective as well, there’s got to be something to learn there that says, if I’m willing to take the risk over here, because my goal is not to become famous, the fame and the notoriety is probably the wrong word. But when people notice it, it’s because I’ve taken risks. And over time, those risks have paid off. Right. So the, the, the things that I’ve created in film, in theater are so good, that they can’t be ignored. And isn’t that the same thing that you’re doing at Galra? I think because it’s not called Malthus’s drone company. It could be, but it’s not. Yeah. Sorry. Go ahead.

Matas Danielevicius 25:54
No, no, I get your point. And that’s, I think, you know, working in startup incubation, and acceleration and building our own companies is that it is so important to figure out the big issue, you know, that would give you that passion and drive to solve. So I think this is where the go right comes into place. You know, and, and the thing that you’ve mentioned, is that it’s not about just making business, you know, of course, every business has to be business, it has to be profitable. Sure, grow. And that’s the purpose, you know, and I believe in that, you know, but why not to make a business that could help people, you know, and knowing these big global issues right now of like, rapid urbanization, people are moving into the cities, more and more population is growing, you know, by 2050, we might have up to 10 billion people in the planet. So if you think about scalar things and how fast it goes, who is gonna feed us, you know, where are we gonna get the food, quality food, you know, and everything. So when I was starting to start to research these topics, you know, and I was looking into the technologies that could help to solve, I found this niche, you know, where we need to eat crops, we need to eat rice, corn, you know, other things, and all of them are being sprayed by pesticide, because that’s a thing, you know, crops need protection crop needs to be taken care of. So, you know, I was looking into the process, I was trying to see how people are doing it. And I find out that many people get really sick of doing it in the bad way. You know, people use backpacks, and they spray all day, every day, they get cancer, they get allergies, you know, their families are suffering, you know, and then I saw these things flying in the sky, not UFOs. But but, you know, I saw drones and I started to do more research, you know, and you can spray pesticides withdrawn. And I was like, Oh, that’s interesting. You know, that’s very, very cool looking thing. And, you know, long story short, is that now when I go to visit farmers, you know, myself, like, last weekend, I went to Rayong, here in Thailand, where we have our pilot base. And I see this older farmer guy, maybe 60s or early 70s, you know, and he’s like, standing and seeing the drone for the first time spraying his field. And he’s like, wow, so good. So fast. And I’m like, that’s what I need, you know, this is the smile on the farmers face, a face pays, pays us, you know, and understanding that there is perception that oh, you know, farmers are not capable to put technologies difficult for them to understand. Well, it is. But if you show them and get them to try there is very easy for them to take it in, you know,

Michael Waitze 29:01
so it’s funny for me, right that farmers are given this sort of bad rap about like, they won’t understand this or that. But then take a banker and try to have him farm something.

Matas Danielevicius 29:12
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Everyone knows their own…

Michael Waitze 29:14
You know what I mean? And the farmers will be making fun of the banker the same way like that dude only knows banking kind of thing.

Matas Danielevicius 29:22
Right? Yeah, yeah. And, you know, and everyone hopefully loves their thing. You know, what, I really see that farmers have a special relationship with with soil with with crops, they really do have that emotional attachment, you know, and cultural and it’s a very strong feeling that they, you know, have I

Michael Waitze 29:44
remember when I took my motorcycle license, the guy who was teaching me how to ride. I had to go to school in Japan to do this. He was a motorcycle police man. And that dude didn’t ride a motorcycle. He was one with the motor. cycle. Do you run it? You ride? Right? Yeah, yeah. Are you good?

Matas Danielevicius 30:03
I hope so, you know till now like I tried to I try to improve, you know, I always try to improvise a because this is a dangerous thing, you know, especially in Bangkok. So it’s kind of I tried to improve all the time

Michael Waitze 30:17
this guy, like, there was no separation between the movement and his body and the movement of the motorcycle, right. So I was watching trying to learn that thing. I think it just takes time. But I think the farmers are the same way with the land. They’re one with the land, they can feel it, they know it. They don’t have to test everything necessarily, they should. But there’s certain things they can feel because they’re one with it. And I always think about that in the context of my motorcycle riding. You know, I was a when I was in college, one of my summer jobs was spraying pest control. All right, so I had one of those backpacks with a case in it. And I did it for like a week or so when I sprayed like around people’s houses for termites and other bugs and stuff. And I realized, like a weekend, this is going to kill me. Yeah, right. And I really did, though, like nobody told me but I was like, I could just tell from the breathing. This is bad. So to be able to separate is just a good thing. That’s what that’s part of what the smile is.

Matas Danielevicius 31:15
And exactly. For me, this is the main purpose of technology, you know, we abused technology sometimes in in a bad way. So you know, we people created social media, like internet, many, many things, many great technologies that are being abused, you know, and use for just so vain and stupid things. Well, actually, you know, there is also very good applications for these things. So same with drones, you know, like, they can help. And I think the future in general in drones is so massive, you know, because you can do many other things from delivery to security to lifting to traveling. And, you know, and also agriculture.

Michael Waitze 32:00
Yeah, I mean, our drones, the flying cars we’ve always wanted, at some level

Matas Danielevicius 32:04
would not yet but maybe, but they could be the right. Yeah, because there’s

Michael Waitze 32:07
so much safer than like a car that looks like an airplane and looks like a car at the same time. Which is kind of ridiculous.

Matas Danielevicius 32:12
Yes, I think we are on the way up, I think, yeah, the bad like, not the bad side. But the reality of the drone technology is still that it’s in its early days, it’s in its infancy. So so it will take some time, but where, how fast it is scaling and where it’s going. And the applications for it is incredible. So and you know, our job is basically to bring that technology to the guys who have never seen it before, right and make them try because once they try they there is no argument, it’s faster, it’s better, they save chemicals as well, you need much less chemical, when you spray with the drone, you know, so it’s better for soil is better for crop. But it’s just the it’s not also instant effect, you can see how it sprays but the crop while it grows, it takes time. So to see the actual yield and stuff like that, it takes some time. But I think we are already in this space for almost three years. And we can see the very positive results. And recently we decided to scale even further because we started as a matching platform. Right. But currently, we are building our own fleet of drones. So we have our own equipment, our own train pilots, and you know, really focusing on customer service and which pays off this is a

Michael Waitze 33:29
better idea, though, right?

Matas Danielevicius 33:30
I think they are both compatible, you know, because to scale the fleet, it’s slower, you know, to help people to connect and find job for Freelancer pilot is much more scalable, and in a sense from the startup perspective, but I think both are compatible, and it helps to learn and improve the process. And recently, we started to work with with the corporates in Thailand as well, so one of our current clients like Taiwan, you know, who are very well, innovating in agri tech space, you know, and they’re using various technologies to improve the livelihood of their farmers and which is the the impact that we want to do we what

Michael Waitze 34:14
is what is Taiwan what kind of business I think I was

Matas Danielevicius 34:16
Taiwan is cassava related company so they grow they they produce cassava products, and they work with a lot of contract farmers, you know, who are growing cassava for them. But as as the corporate attitude what I’ve noticed, you know, because we’ve been working with quite a few, I like to work with the corporates that are not only looking for profit, but actually taking care of their farmers and help them to educate in in the better processes and more efficient ways of doing things and as the end consumer which is me, you know, I was never like into agriculture before you know, but I was more concerned as end consumer the How

Michael Waitze 35:00
could you not be into agriculture? You eat every day? A lot of vegetables and fruit you

Matas Danielevicius 35:05
think about it? Yes. But you know, you never think about growing it. So maybe I was always like that and consumer, you know, but then one day I was eating rice. And I was thinking, I know where it comes from know, what, what, what has been done to that tries to let come to my plate, what journey did the

Michael Waitze 35:23
travel? What happened to the guy and the gal that grew that Right, exactly. So it’s

Matas Danielevicius 35:27
so difficult to trace it, and to really understand what you’re eating. And you know, now to be small part of that puzzle, it’s quite cool, you know, to understand the whole supply chain and the potential, you know, because the technology is is there to start improving. This is just a matter of people who will take it in, you know, it isn’t this

Michael Waitze 35:49
one of the cool things about building a company like this is that you’re really involved in something that has real impact. Do you know what I mean? Like, and you can see it and feel it. So you go down to the farm and rayon. And you can see the happiness of the guy who no longer has to either employ somebody or do it himself and carry around that backpack that spray stuff that’s clearly going to make him or somebody else. But more than that, you now see that the rice that ends up on your plate actually came from some plot of farmland, that someone’s probably been working for three generations. or more.

Matas Danielevicius 36:25
Exactly. And I think, you know, of course, it’s gonna take some time, but it we’re thinking about the whole supply chain and added value products, you know, starting to trace starting to trace what type of chemicals farmers are using, how much of them are they using? What is that performance at the chemical, because now we can collect connect satellites as well, surveillance drones, so we can really trace the impact of each product?

Michael Waitze 36:50
Can the drone do two things at once? I know sounds like a silly question. But you don’t I mean, like actually surveil where it is while it’s still spraying. So

Matas Danielevicius 36:55
we normally use two different types of drones, because agricultural drones cannot fly that high. Got it, you know, so that is different regulation. And you can just lift up the surveillance drone to scan it depends on what type of software you’re using. But you can see pretty cool things, you know, you can detect the damaged crops, you can see the growth, you can predict yield, you know, so there’s a lot of cool things happening. And you know, this is from the kind of seed from the planting stage, you can start tracking, you can track what type of products farmers are using, and how does it affect the crop and how does it affect the yield, and then you can trace it back to the you know, factory. And brands who are basically selling consumer products could add that added value to their brands, you know, let’s say our rise, or our you know, I don’t know, corn products are being tracked from the day one from the day zero. And as a consumer, I would trust that product much more, I would be more thrilled to eat that type of product. I could meet the farmer, you know,

Michael Waitze 38:01
well, so there was a store in Tokyo called the natural store that was meant to be or all this organic food, right. And one of the neat things about it, you know, this is back in the late 90s and early 2000s They would literally put a picture of like farmer, you know, all Horus, 100 Tanaka son, with like his little thing with the hat on and say like he grew these cucumbers. No, I thought it would have been cool if that guy actually came into the store so you can meet him. But there was the same idea. You know, and back then technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today. So you couldn’t make the real like visceral connection. But you could do some pretty interesting things actually connecting people directly with the supplier for the food that they eat, it would be really

Matas Danielevicius 38:42
cool. And that is basically you know, agri tech is such a huge space you know, our own vision is that yes, we start from drone technology you know, we want to help on this aspect and we want to scale this and we want to not only educate farmer about this technology, but also train them how to start using smartphone for booking services. While once they’re gonna have the habit of doing farming with a smartphone we can add many more things you know, we can think about insurance we can think about micro financing and improving their livelihood. Also ecommerce based buying better products we can suggest products because of the data short you know, it’s not about being pushy on on something that is in the marketplace, but we can suggest product because of their

Michael Waitze 39:30
higher yields cleaner. Exactly.

Matas Danielevicius 39:32
You know, like as a farmer, you could eventually upload a photo of your crop and AI could recognize what is the issue and we could start suggesting what type of product you should use to prevent further damage.

Michael Waitze 39:45
I mean, you could do think about this. You could take all of your acting and theater and movie making experience. Right all of your startup building and incubation experience and create a community of farmers that produce content that’s fun for them, right? But also informative for consumers, consumers, when did I stop being able to speak English and just create all this great content around farming? And then create this relationship and community with people around that information will be kind of cool. You know, for me is like, like this weekend forming kind of thing. I don’t know if

Matas Danielevicius 40:24
I’m thinking about the future in general. I’m still on the positive side, even though things that happening right now let’s see it close to my country is scary. Scary. You know, please support everyone who can Ukraine sorry for the interruption. But, you know, in any means, if you can, you’re not,

Michael Waitze 40:43
you’re not asking for genocide, you’re asking to stop genocide. Exactly.

Matas Danielevicius 40:47
So I really, I’m very concerned and I tried to do as much as I can. But if if I’m still thinking in the largest scale future, and everything that’s gonna come up to the whole world to our society, and I do believe that that technology is the one of the key aspects that will help us to thrive, you know, and if farmers would be kind of helped to change that hard labor, work it with the technology, then they can focus on building content, they can focus on adding value on building community, you know, and but

Michael Waitze 41:25
it should slow down to them, right. So in the United States, there’s ADM, Archer Daniels Midland, one of the biggest farming companies in the world, right? But what you’re doing is helping smallholder farmers, which is really interesting in a way, right, because then they also create the kind of makes their lives easier and better. Right, if you get back to the thing you said, where if technology is used not to create Facebook, but to make people’s lives better, than we can go to Ukraine for this to see in the old days in the in World War One and World War Two and an envy even in the Vietnam War, right. Just getting the information back to people that cared about it could take weeks or months. Now we know in real time, when massive amounts of people are getting killed for no reason. In a way, it’s good that we can know so fast so we can react faster in a way that’s positive. And we can talk about the farmers too, in the same way. Yeah, if we can automate parts of their lives to make their lives better, then we can share their life experiences as well, in a way that makes us feel closer to them. That would be super cool. No,

Matas Danielevicius 42:26
exactly. And I think you know, with with situations of like, fake news, and everything’s and the amount of information people are getting in every day, they do get to see that what you’ve mentioned, but they also tend to forget it much faster. So this is scary. But that’s another topic I think for for for let’s say farming, agriculture, all the manual work is that I hope soon we can prosper much more people can focus on their family, more fuel, people can focus more on, you know, better quality life rather than suffering. Unnecessary, torturous work, you know, some of it is good. I don’t say that. You know, doing things by hand is bad, but some of it could be improved. Doing.

Michael Waitze 43:13
Yeah. And I mean, I think those are the big benefits of technology. Why don’t we end here? That was awesome. Why don’t we do this more often?

Matas Danielevicius 43:20
Let’s do agriculture. Podcasts

Michael Waitze 43:23
whenever you want. Whenever you want. We should get some of the Thai farmers in here to do it as well. Matas I’m going to get it wrong again, Danielevicius?

Unknown Speaker 43:29
Danielevicius.

Michael Waitze 43:32
That was pretty good, though.

Matas Danielevicius 43:33
Yeah, it’s pretty close. I think few more podcasts and you will be having it.

Michael Waitze 43:39
Thanks again for doing it.

Unknown Speaker 43:40
Yeah, no, it’s really, really big pleasure to be here. And thanks for having me again.

 

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