5×5 Night at Start Garden!
Voting Closes:

June 17, 2024 11:59 pm

About this idea
The restaurant and greater food service industry has nearly been decimated. First by Covid closures, then labor issues, then supply chain issues, and now inflation. And we’re just coming out of a health crisis, where people are striving to eat better. Today, lettuce is the new steak! Meanwhile, our fresh vegetable crops in California and Arizona, which currently provide 95% of our leafy greens, are rotting in the field from viruses and labor shortages. And we all know the water out West is quickly running out. What does the world look like without available and affordable greens? Without restaurants? Where we celebrate, where we congregate, where we are inspired with anticipation. This really is a problem! Without the necessary ingredients, restaurants are just places to sit. Here are the choices you have as a chef or food operator when it comes to leafy greens. You can take a gamble on the commodity product and get a case of half brown wilted lettuce shipped from a field 2000 miles away or even worse, short shipped, you get nothing at all. Your only other option is spend 3 to 5 times that price to get locally grown stuff. And remember, restaurants are businesses with razor thin profit margins to begin with. Bit-Farms will innovate the food service industry by offering a new way to source fresh ingredients. Grown on-site. Providing superior ultra-local greens at a better price. We do this by installing our modular farm platform inside the host business, which takes 144 sq ft, and about 2 days to assemble. Then, using our service infrastructure, we maintain that farm for a monthly subscription fee. Farming as a service. Its completely hands off for the host business. They just sit back and watch their business thrive. We provide them control over their own supply chain by integrating our crop plan with their menu. Incorporating historical numbers and seasonal trends. This significantly elevates the entire dining experience by providing an overabundance of deliciously vibrant greens and herbs, just when they need them, for the same predictable monthly price. These farms are specially engineered pieces of equipment, designed to minimize costs and maximize usable output. By leveraging the operators existing infrastructure, and combining easily assembled parts with low cost open-source IoT technologies, we minimize the cost of materials to build, install, and maintain these indoor farms, while maximizing every cubic inch of grow space. These farms allow Food Service Operators to select from a variety of herbs, greens, mushrooms, berries and other produce, year-round, regardless of the weather outside. Turning food miles into food minutes.
Bit-Farms makes the carbon-heavy leafy green supply-chain obsolete. No more packaging, no distribution, no branding or labeling, no plastic, no diesel trucks. No waste. All adding back to savings for the host business and margin for Bit-Farms. This model offers us the ability to literally bring the farm to the table. With widely available modern technology, along with a healthy dose of know-how, this business has the potential to reinvent an entire industry. one that is desperately in need of new options. With a constant supply of fresh herbs and leafy greens, Chefs are able to spend their time doing what they do best. Customers will be impressed by the vibrant ambiance and the fresh aromas of live plants. Bit-Farms give a deeper connection to the food the employees are preparing, serving, and delivering. A new sense of pride in the ingredients they use. On-site indoor farming will transform dining experiences and open eyes to the importance of supporting sustainable, locally focused businesses. We can make an impact by showing the world a new and innovative way to source ingredients and to create a more cohesive relationship between people and their food.
What I'll do with $5,000
Some version of Bit-Farms has been rolling around my head for about 5 years now. It was originally conceived as Kitchen Farmer with the idea of growing microgreens in kitchens for Chefs. With 6 years of cannabis cultivation experience, I knew the fundamentals of indoor growing but not how to build a scalable food business. I spent the next 4.5 years working for indoor farming companies. First, Revolution Farms, then working my way up to Director of Campus Operations with Square Roots, who is strategically partnered with Gordon Food Service. I learned everything I could from the Executives and Founders of those companies while continuing to tweak my on-site farming business model on the side. On a whim, at the last moment, I submitted Bit-farms to the 2022 Start Garden 100 and was accepted! This $1000 and validation of my concept inspired me to keep going. Although I was not selected as a winner, I was not deterred. Building off the work from the Start Garden competition, I continued to revise my model and look for opportunities to prove the concept. Earlier this month, I was included in a large round laid offs by Square Roots. As soon as I was told that my position was being eliminated, I knew I needed to get Bit-Farms off the ground. I needed to raise $75K to build the first field unit and prove the concept works. To raise this, I was going to have to start talking to investors. I read books on pitching, business strategy, and being backable. I assembled an awesome group of advisors, and started practicing my pitch. 21 times was my goal. After everyone i knew was tired of hearing it, I started to respond to linked in requests with "hey I'd like to practice my pitch on you, care to listen?" This turned out to be a fun and beneficial journey. Speaking with lawyers, financial advisors, and creative marketing folks, it really helped me understand where the focus of my pitch should be and, of course, which services they could provide me. The things that stuck out to me were: 1. This is a somewhat unique business model that is tricky to concisely explain, especially to those not familiar with the industry. 2. When selling equity to private investors or partnering with another business, clear legal agreements can be very important. 3. Investors want to know you have things handled and buttoned up. No potential hazards. So, with the $5000, it's not the most exciting spend, but I would invest $2k on creative services to build an animated video showing how the service works. This video will also be used on in the pitch deck, on the website, and on social media. I would spend the next $1500 on legal to draw up the appropriate contracts for investors and partners. and the last $1500 on architectural and engineering services to ensure no potential hazards. I would also commit to donating Bit-Farms' first $5K in profit to Start Garden to give someone else another opportunity at chasing their dream.
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