Take 6: Liane Hart, Verility Inc.
Purdue University alumna Liane Hart is CEO and co-founder of Verility Inc., which uses proprietary machine learning frameworks for rapid, low-cost and accurate assessment of livestock semen and ovulation samples. The company has recently begun seeking seed-stage funding for its fertility platform called Fertile-Eyez, which provides immediate point-of-care testing. Read more about the technology. The company has been a Purdue Foundry client since 2019.
Hart earned her B.S. in animal sciences in 1997 and her M.S. in animal breeding and genetics in 1999. She was awarded The Department of Animal Sciences’ Distinguished Alumni Award — Early Career in 2012.
She generously shared her time to answer our questions.
Q: What sparked your interest in animals?
Hart: I have always been passionate about animals, even as a child. As I would like to say, it’s in my DNA for whatever reason.
My mother and grandmother have told me stories about me sneaking out the back door of our house, with only my diapers on, heading to the neighbors to visit with their donkeys. I grew up around animals while also working at our local veterinary hospital as soon as I could drive. I worked there throughout high school and all through college, which drove me to apply to the Purdue University Animal Sciences Department within the School of Agriculture. I have never left the industry since.
Q: Do you find farmers and others in the agriculture sector are early technology adopters?
Hart: I do. There are certainly segments of the market that embrace more readily than others. However, overall, the agriculture sector has come a long way because of the use of innovation. They are trying to keep up with consumer demand as well as animal and labor management best practices. In fact, there are many publications demonstrating how sustainable agriculture is by doing more with less, at so many levels.
Take dairy farmers for instance, because of their willingness and ability to upgrade facilities, track animal data, improve nutrition, care about animal/labor welfare and improve breeding and genetics, there is more than a 60% increase in milk production with less animals today than 25 years ago. The same can be said for meat production. We produce more than 3 times more meat today versus 50 years ago with less animals and land.
Q: What traits do you feel make for a strong entrepreneur?
1. Perseverance. Never say die and always get it done.
2. Being a go-getter. Put in the blood, sweat and tears all with the intent of success. These people make it happen.
3. Competitiveness. Keep an eye on the ball, the competition and stay ahead of the game.
4. Being a risk taker. I don’t care if I fail as long as I learn and it moves me forward.
5. Knowing the business. This allows you to be more creative in how you want to change the world all while pivoting when you need to.
6. Being able to raise and manage money. I can get it and use it wisely.
7. Being a team creator. This is the ability to have the right players on the field and manage them appropriately.
8. Humility. Be able to take a beating from anyone and any situation, and keep moving forward, e.g., feedback and failure.
Q: What aspect of agriculture life is underrated?
Hart: The most underrated aspect of those that have chosen the life of agriculture is the understanding that we care about the world and everything in it. That includes our land, the animals and the people. When any of one of these aspects is off, we are off. We will work endlessly, tirelessly turning over every rock to figure out the issue and solve it to the best of our ability. We find great joy and satisfaction in caring for all of these things. For most, it is a passion and is part of our DNA. Ultimately, I believe people underrate the passion that people in agriculture have for what they do and their intelligence with how they do it.
Q: What technology could you not live without?
Hart: Electricity. It fuels all of the things that I need. If I were to have to go without electricity for more than 48 hours, I would have an anxiety attack!
Q: What is the best interaction you’ve had with animals?
Hart: The absolutely best interaction that I have had with an animal is when I am working with a horse, either riding or grooming, or loving on a dog or cat, and I can feel an energy between the two of us that feels as if we are talking with each other without me saying a word. When this happens, I forget about everything else in the world. It is in that moment that I have always realized my passion for our industry and that I was made to be in it.
Thank you again Liane Hart for participating in Take 6!