18 December 2012
Most people ask when you meet them, “So what do you do?” I might say to some, “I helped start a company,” or “I work on hydroponic systems,” depending on how in detail I want to go. The follow up conversations vary. If they have heard of the company or our line of work, then it makes my job easy. If not, I have to explain it to them: “We design, build and operate hydroponic systems.” Or, “we are an urban agriculture development company.”
Although we may describe our profession in different ways, I’ve found the most important information to impart is our vision:
Our vision is to create cities where a large percentage of our salad greens and other vegetables are grown locally and sustainably using water-efficient hydroponic growing systems.
So, how did we get here?
The last year and a half of my life, and that of co-founder Douglas Jacobs, has been a mix of selling, pitching, business planning, and of course building, installing, and maintaining hydroponic growing systems. Our average day has varied from planting seedlings to working with our Propeller Consultant Paco Robert, to engaging in long conversations with potential clients. I have learned everything along the way, either from a consultant, a workshop, or Doug.
Public speaking in front of strangers is something I have had to confront as we are given more and more opportunities. It was only a few months ago that I remember feeling nervous pitching in front of fellow entrepreneurs during Propeller’s Monthly Pitch Meetings. By comparison, I now feel more comfortable and confident speaking on panels, which has proven key to networking with potential clients and partners.
The various workshops that the New Orleans entrepreneurial communities have provided have been very important. Propeller-hosted accounting workshops have helped us stay organized, and a Propeller-hosted public relations workshop helped us land a spot on national television after a cold call to a show called, “America’s Heartland.”
Where are we now?
Our company is growing; we’re developing locally in New Orleans and abroad; and we’re collaborating with developers, hotels, grocery stores and restaurants to provide hydroponic consultancy, installation and management services. These services allow clients like renowned chef Dominique Macquet to offer fresh food for their customers, hassle free.
In the end, we hope that everyone receives a better product, and that these sales grow and contribute to our larger vision for cities, where locally- and sustainably-grown salad greens and vegetables are the norm.