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How To Kill Your Indoor Ag Business

How To Kill Your Indoor Ag Business

Whether you’re a seasoned grower or just starting out, you won’t want to miss the Indoor Ag-Con panel discussion, “How To Kill Your Indoor Ag Business.”

Ahead of this idea-packed session, we posed a couple of questions to  Moderator Andrew Blume, inHouse Produce and panelists Matt Liotta, Agrify  and Jim Pantaleo, Indoor Vertical Farming Advisor (and Indoor Ag-Con Conference Chair!).

From pitfalls to watch out for to critical vendor partnerships,  their tips will help your business not just survive, but thrive in the coming year.

Q: What is one of the classic pre-operation mistakes –  before you even start selling to anyone?
A: Andrew Blume

Thinking too big too quick, and thus failing to understand that agriculture moves at a different pace than other industries. To master indoor ag requires a grasp of several forms of engineering: software, mechanical, electrical, biological, financial and even social engineering. Farming is hard work and the path forward is full of potential pitfalls.

In my 5 years in this industry, I’ve seen and heard companies make huge statements like:

  •  “Napa in a box”
  • “We grow 50,000-60,000 lbs per shipping container per year”
  • “We’re the Ferrari of indoor agriculture”

These statements are about what people want to do. My advice is to avoid talking a big game and first: validate your assumptions, prove your product via a pilot, and acquire customers. Once you’ve done that, it might just be time to tell the world and start adding all those zeros to your excel model.

A: Matt Liotta

Not planning for loss of crops. Spoilage, pests, and disease need to be planned for. This is especially true when designing the facility because an improperly designed facility could make it very difficult or even impossible to prevent and mitigate these issues.

A: Jim Pantaleo

In my humble opinion, it is not “proving the building and/or proving the crop” prior to placing your “Open for Business” sign.

The word “proving” means is the building functionally ready. Have all the issues with environmental controls, water, energy, air flow, etc. been addressed? Can the building, once proven, produce a quality, consistent crop in volume? If the answer is yes, then you are ready to start selling!

Q: What suppliers are essential to maintaining your business?
A: Andrew Blume 

At inHouse Produce, we rely heavily on our vendor partners to ensure smooth operations. The two categories of suppliers that are essential include:

  1. Inputs like seeds, substrates, nutrients, pest management items, and even software.
  1. Hardware like trays, LEDs, fans, and PCBs.

We switched our LED vendor after meeting a supplier that better suited our needs at Indoor Ag-Con 2019. For 2020, I’m willing to be surprised, but I am specifically interested to see what’s new in small-batch manufacturing, indoor-ag specific software, and the latest in pest management

A: Matt Liotta

A good understanding of consumables required, minimum order requirements, and storage for those minimums is certainly important. Testing labs are often overlooked, but critical to success. Depending on the specific crops grown, the local regulations, and any requirements your customers may have could have considerable 3rd part testing requirements. The turnaround time of some of these tests may even impact facility design for storage and quarantining of product.

A: Jim Pantaleo

I have always found that the essential suppliers provide that which is continually in use or need on an indoor farm. Think nitrile gloves, clam shells, other consumables like cleaning products and here’s a fun one: seeds. If you don’t have an adequate supply…maintaining your business is going to be tough.

Learn more during the full session on Monday, May 18 from 11:00 – 11:45 am.
Register Today to Reserve Your Seat!