When Naga Kataru first joined Google, he never knew that he is going to create such a wonder for Google by being the pioneer of much known Google Alerts. Getting into the company was not easy for him but Google saw a spark in him and selected him as the 40th employee in the 110 employees Google. Kataru who was brilliant right from the start of his school. He grew up in Gampalagudem, a farming village in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. His father, the school’s principal, was determined to make his son attain a college education. So Kataru graduated with a college degree in computer science and engineering and then enrolled at the Indian Institute of Technology, in one of the country’s best computer science programs. When the idea of Google Alerts flashed into his mind, he faced tough resistance from his colleagues to implement it. When he presented the idea in front of his manager, the idea was discarded. “My manager didn’t like it,” said Kataru. “He said Google makes money when people come to us. If we set alerts, then we’re losing money because we’re sending people away from Google.” Kataru didn’t give up and presented the idea directly to Sergery Brin and Larry Page with a prototype and a simple user interface. There begun the journey of Google Alerts with billions of users. Kataru has three patents listed for Google Alerts. Working for Google for 8 years, Kataru felt uneasy and was eager to move with something else. Kataru left Google and jumped into completely new territories — documentary short films and improv theater. He applied to and was accepted into a directing program at Second City, the world-famous improv group, whose alumni include Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Kataru’s thirst for education didn’t end here and his career took a new sharp turn when he took to farming. In 2008, he bought a 320-acre farm in Modesto, California. “I thought I would sell it after five years,” said Kataru. But the farm laid a deep emphasis on his heart and reminded him of his life in India. “I missed the way the fruits and flowers smelled differently in India,” he said. So he insisted on converting it into a profit generating almond farm instead of selling the money-losing farm. Naga had no idea of farming and that’s where his education stepped in. He taught himself and started generating revenues from the farm. Today the farm is employing 8 employees and generating a revenue of $ 2.5 million annually not only by growing almonds but by growing apricots as well. Kataru is all set to make farming technology driven. To achieve this target he is pursuing two degrees at Stanford — an MBA and an MS in Environment & Resources and preparing himself for the challenges ahead. “It’s ironic that even though there are farms just 90 miles outside of Silicon Valley, technology hasn’t been used much to improve processes and crop yields,” he said. “As a technologist, I think I can do something about it.”
The Logical Indian applauds the work done by Naga Kataru in making farming technology oriented. He has shown a ray of hope to the other techies to take the initiative of making farming tech savvy and improving the life of farmers. We believe that in a nation like ours where a large proportion of crops depends on the weather, turning technology oriented will reduce our dependence on the weather and will end the plight of farmers of India.
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