In this edition of Startup Stories, we sat down with the co-founders of Loop Farms ♻️, to learn how they're revolutionizing urban food systems with their zero-waste technology.
What are you working on?
Loop Farms synthesizes original technology to construct zero-waste food production systems. We provide a pathway to long-lasting, resilient local food systems for urban communities.
What is your killer value proposition and who are you building it for?
When you walk into your local grocery store in December, you can buy fresh berries and fresh greens that have been transported hundreds or thousands of miles. Imagine if you could walk, in the neighborhood you live in, to a glass-walled farm that grew the produce you wanted outside of its usual season.
This is the vision we have at Loop Farms.
The glass-walled indoor farm sites adapt to non-traditional urban spaces, bringing farm-to-fork into our communities with hyperlocal, naturally grown produce. By incorporating agrivoltaics, rain and graywater treatment, and anaerobic waste-nutrient extraction, sites keep operating costs low by optimizing their resource usage. This means that customers can get the produce they love at prices they can afford, year-round, directly from the farm next door.
We work in concert with produce available from local traditional farms to provide complimentary produce rather than competing. This method increases the diversity of fresh, local, and nutritious produce available to urbanites.
Why does this matter and why are you the right team to drive this forward?
Over the past three years, a global pandemic and war have caused major problems in the supply chain. As a society, we never know when the next disaster might arise. The time to protect, improve, and innovate our food supply chain is now.
Loop Farms are built with a resilient supply chain for fresh produce in mind. By building low-resource, high-productivity farms directly in city centers, we can reduce the reliance on imports and eliminate the reduction in nutrition due to chemical use and long-distance transport.
Aimee and Julie are outgoing MBA graduates with strong business acumen. With a combined 13 years of consulting and management experience across a range of industries, the founding team brings complementary skills to the table. Aimee’s expertise is in systems engineering and design, and Julie’s includes biology, logistics, and supply chain impact assessment.
During our early stages, we worked to design farms for food entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, SA, and in doing so, were able to test and iterate on the design for our Berlin farm site. Upon returning to Berlin, we started to build our prototype—an island style farm—floating in Rummelsburger Bucht.
We have benefited from the support of the BIA Future City Accelerator and the EIT Climate KIC Circular Cities Accelerator in our journey, which have supported us not only financially but also with guidance and coaching on the operations and business model we plan on moving forward with. Later in 2022, we worked with a team of analysts to build a strategic business plan for Loop Farms and conducted market research into both B2B and B2C community farming models.
What are the next big milestones you have to reach?
In spring 2023, we will be hosting the launch of our prototype farm. This will be the first step in proving our concept of zero-waste, low resource farms.
With the launch of this first prototype, we will already be selling products including hydroponic seedlings and zero-waste house plant fertilizer (keep an eye on our social media for the launch of these products). Beyond that, we will be developing our first commercial site, which will be completed by spring 2024, and actively engaging with our Berlin base to develop future farms.
In addition to building multiple revenue streams to support our future business, we are also engaging with applied science institutions to develop research and development projects in the field of sustainable indoor farming practices.
Share with the audience a particular moment that inspired you during the Future Health Accelerator.
For us, the most valuable part of our Future City Accelerator experience was the value the other founders brought to discussions. In addition to the insightful questions and comments made during workshops, we also found that our cohort was our biggest cheerleaders; no matter the product or stage of development each one of us was in, we were happy to provide support and guidance to anyone who needed it. This type of community can be hard to find and having it certainly makes for a less lonely entrepreneurial journey.
Would you like to share anything else?
Check out our website, www.loopfarms.org, and follow us on Instagram @loopfarmsystems that’s where you’ll find out what’s coming up for us next and how to join in on all the locally grown goodness we are bringing to Berlin.
BIA is a boutique agency developing innovation, transformation and learning journeys for corporates, startups, and scale-ups. Our pre-seed startup accelerators are our special impact initiatives, supporting ambitious entrepreneurs working to disrupt the future of urban life, health, and technology. Our programs are backed by the Berlin Senate and the European Social Fund.