Our journey towards a scalable business model for alphabeet

Every startup is looking for product-market-fit. And they do so for a good reason: it makes or breaks the foundation of every business. If you have it — boom — rocket speed. If you don’t, forget about exponential growth. It might still be possible to create a successful business, but you will have to compensate with high advertising expenses. So how do you know you’re there?

This is a question that is super relevant for every founder. It is the kind of question that keeps you up at night, desperately trying to find a way to know for sure. It’s…

Photo by Jodie Stallard on Unsplash

Es mag trivial erscheinen, doch auch das richtige Gießen will gelernt sein.
Der richtige Zeitpunkt ist besonders an sonnigen Tagen entscheidend. Auch wenn deine Pflanzen mittags ihre Blätter hängen lassen, solltest du der Versuchung widerstehen sie jetzt sofort zu gießen. Auf Grund der Mittagshitze fahren viele Pflanzen ihren Stoffwechsel auf ein Minimum herunter, bis es am Nachmittag wieder etwas kühler wird. …

There is one thing that completely struck me when we started customer research in the agricultural industry: Professional farmers regularly ask crop consultants for help.

We met this tomato farmer, growing nothing but tomatoes for almost 10 years in more than 6ha of greenhouses. One single plant species for almost a decade, every day. Yet still, this perfectly reasonable and pretty smart man is relying on the services of a Dutch horticultural consultant, visiting him EVERY WEEK to improve the conditions in his greenhouse.

What is going on in the greenhouse?

Why Growers Need Help

Farmers basically operate companies, we just call them farms. And just like every other company, they…

Everybody seems to agree there is an increasing need for urban agriculture, but nobody is really able to fill that gap. So what about a drastically different approach: reinventing urban agriculture bottom-up?

Food shortages are increasing

Recent shortages of fresh produce clearly show how weather extremes and other external influences threaten food supplies of our cities. The message is clear: we need to make cities more resilient and one of the most pragmatic ways would be to produce more of our fresh produce in cities, rather than importing everything from Spain (or California). But this task has proven to be extremely difficult, primarily because…

A stream of observations while attending the Vertical Farming Conference in Venlo, June 2018

Today Jens Schmelzle and I got up in the middle of the night, took a train to Venlo and followed some very interesting presentations on vertical farming. We also had the chance to finally see the BrightBox research facility. I took some photos there and will use these images as random visual relief to make all this text a little less annoying.

The venue was really nice! I bet Svensson made the screens on the roof!

A banker’s perspective

Lambert van Horen, Analyst Horticulture RaboResearch

What is a vertical farm, anyway? According to RaboBank it is soil-less, uses only artificial lighting, full climate control and is vertically stacked. Lambert also compared investment costs of vertical farms (about 1300 €/m2) versus greenhouses (100–350 €/m2)…

My thoughts on GreenTech 2018

GreenTech 2018 in Amsterdam just wrapped up last night and it’s going to take some time to digest all the information and stimuli. So many interesting people to talk to and a lot of controversial discussion on vertical and indoor farming.

Here are seven statements in an attempt to summarize my take on this year’s GreenTech:

There is a growing number of people who want or need to produce food in metropolitan areas. These people are rarely farmers, but rather retailers, chefs, hoteliers, communities or home growers. The reason is simple: supply chains are starting to get too long and too fragile and people feel the need to take responsibility for the food they need…

A lot of people have concerns about sharing farming data with others. Who could blame them? Data is always delicate and even more so for farmers.

If you are a professional farmer, you see your plant recipes as part of your intellectual property, maybe even your USP. Some have even described them as the Coca-Cola-recipes of farming. And even if that’s not the case, a particular batch might be an experiment, for the moment. Who would share data about experiments without validating their outcome first?

Another huge concern is safety. I read the following sentence about twice a week in…

Dear fellow urban, vertical or indoor farmers,
we’re proud to announce the release of our closed alpha v0.2 — the first version of our software platform truly living in the cloud, as well as a brand new version of our raspberry pi controller code. And best of all? The controller code is open sourced under the GNU General Public License. Did we mention we’re always up for collaboration?

For those of you who never heard of farmee: farmee is the first truly open software platform for vertical or indoor farming. You can use it to monitor and control your smart…

The vertical farming industry desperately needs a mutual standard for data exchange. But how should something like this be designed? Read on to find out!

Our vision of vertical, indoor and urban farming is connected, to begin with. Connected means communication, means data being transferred between systems and people. So any given system that is part of that eco-system needs to know and talk the same language, in order to interpret data the same way the sender meant it.

Old-school protectionism is preventing the industry from living up to it’s full potential

Can the industry live up to the hype?

Vertical farming is all the rage. Tech blogs are bursting of it, venture capital firms stuff shady startups with insane amounts of cash, technical breakthroughs are expressed on a daily basis. Vertical farming is the future, right?

A little background

Fact is: We live in an increasingly urban world. Urbanization is happening so fast that in the year 2050, more than 6 billion people will be living in cities (out of a total 10 billion, according to the FAO).

To date, cities produce little more than waste, and about none…

Flo Haßler

Part of a passionate team trying build the most vivid online community of hobby gardeners around the world.

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