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Alumni Profile: Freight Farms

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What was your ?”A-ha!”? moment?

BM: I dont think we had one moment where we said Wow, thats it! It was more of a progressive awakening if you will. Jon and I had started working together in rooftop greenhouse space and recognized a massive opportunity in mainstream food production in the urban environment. There just was nothing there that could service that need, and that sort of progressed into, We should fill it.

?What challenges have you experienced in the process of growing Freight Farms??

BM: I think there are a numbe?r of unique challenges for us. The fact that we were kind of first in this “indoor agriculture space, controlled agriculture, whatever you want to call it. Now its AgTech and its a thing. But when we started, it was more of a ?way to ?justify that we were doing something real when I had to talk to my parents about it. And the fact that we are a connected device, a hardware company, in a space where hardware is king, not to mention that our hardware device is 40 feet long and weighs 10,000 pounds its a little outside the norm.

JF: When you talk to traditional food suppliers, its a big sell at first to say, Think about everything youve done for generations differently than you do now. Thats a big ask. So getting people on our page at first was a little difficult. But once they s?ee? proof in motion, what our system can do, and what the potential there ?is?, it?’s? a lot easier to changes peoples minds.

Tell us about a ?time you failed

BM: Any number of the early days, where you think you have the system just completely dialed in. Wed leave for a day or two saying, Weve got our prototype running, its humming along nicely, and weve got a big contingent of potential customers coming for a demo tomorrow. Then you show up an hour or so before the customers are supposed to get there, and everythings dead and its a million degrees in your farm. That was a very painful experience, each time it happened early on.

?What should we expect from you in five, ten years?

BM: In five years well definitely have a distinct presence in a number of cities and countries, really impacting mainstream food supply. Ten years from now?

I think space is in the trajectory, but also those most extreme places on earth that in a lot of ways mimic the harsh environment of space.

Any ?advice for applying to accelerators?

BM: The hardest part is determination: Should we apply today? A lot of people think Were too early, or Were not there yet, and get nervous about that, because it is so competitive. But I think that, if you could have seen where we were when we applied to MassChallenge, youd say, Oh yeah, theres no such thing as too early!

?What’s your ?mission s?tatement?

JF: Its been the same since day one, and thats to empower people to grow food anywhere. Were really trying to build the infrastructure for the next generation of food supply.

Your f?avorite part of working on Freight Farms?

?JF: ?I really love that moment when the customers sees the seeds germinate and turn into seedlings, and turn it into this product that they can build their livelihood around. That moment is the same for all of our customers, but our customer type is very different. We have retirees, veterans, students, people who just graduated and want to do something different, people who are looking to get into a different industry, or maybe even launch a restaurant experience. They are all doing it for different reasons, but that moment where they get out of the nest and start flapping on their own is a big moment for us.

Best advice for young entrepreneurs?

?JF: ?I think its important to get your customer to their own A-ha! moment as quickly as possible, and to do that you really just need to listen. Start that feedback loop early on in the process. Once the product gets in their hand, make sure you stop and take time to ask how the process is, how you could do it differently, and what would be a better way. Its a lot of things that people dont take into account when they are just moving a million miles per hour. But your customer is your success, and without them you are nothing. Always make time to reflect and adjust the process accordingly.

?Freight Farms makes the front page of the New York Times someday… whats your ideal headline?

?JF: ?Why would you do anything but local?

I think the same way people dont really know what the sound of a dial-up modem is anymore, people wont understand why youd ship food across the world to get it. Its a generational thing that well know, but our kids wont know. The need to import food will be foreign to them.

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