Putting Down Our First Roots

Hi Everyone!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Eric. I’m the co-founder and CEO of Local Roots! I'm excited to kick off our blog that going forward will focus on exciting developments here at Local Roots, important industry updates, and our vision for the food system of tomorrow.

I wanted to start by taking the opportunity to provide more color around our story, both where we came from and where we are going. 

 

A little bit about me...

I was born and raised in Redmond, WA, an epicenter of the 1990s tech boom. Since I was little I have had a fierce sense of justice and have been driven to improve the conditions of those around me. As I grew up, I wanted to tackle problems involving food, water, energy, and logistics. These problems are at the heart of the world's deepest resource scarcity-related issues and they impact people’s lives in such a direct way. Combined with my desire to do something truly meaningful, this took me down a number of paths that led me to entrepreneurship and ultimately Local Roots. I am now lucky enough to have the best job in the world! I get to work alongside some of the most talented people I’ve ever met, and everyday I get to tackle the biggest problems of the 21st century, such as "how will we sustainably feed 10 billion people by 2050?!"

Whether on the soccer field or in setting goals for our organization, I am always raising expectations for myself and for our team. Here are a few of my personal and professional goals:

  • To inspire and empower others to live healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives.

  • To strive for excellence, always.

  • To be humble and appreciative of the opportunities I have and to create opportunities for others to maximize their potential.

  • To be audacious and take calculated risks.

  • To never stop learning, growing, and improving.

  • To solve real-world problems through innovation and technology.

  • To harness the power of capitalism and market-based forces to drive positive global change.

  • To demonstrate that the strongest and most valuable companies take a long-term perspective and build shared value among all stakeholders, and that the most impactful organizations are the ones that are highly scalable and built on good fundamentals, strong economics, disciplined execution, an obsession with the customer, and the most innovative and kick-ass technology the world has ever seen.

  • To prove that nothing is impossible and that the most challenging problems of our lifetime will be the most lucrative ones to solve.

 

It all started in the garage...

Like many great companies before us, we started Local Roots in our garage. From growing our first plants to experimenting with every available commercial component, we began by asking questions… a lot of them! We took copious amounts of notes, photos, and measurements as we sought to learn as much as possible and answer as many questions as we could. Seriously, ask Matt (our COO) about counting leaves and coding stages of growth on 1,600 plants twice a day. It was, erm… memorable… but I’ll never forget those times. (There were also multiple conversations convincing our landlord and neighbors that we weren’t growing marijuana.)

But I digress. The point is that we have been data-driven and meticulous from the beginning. We believe in questioning everything and rely on metrics and data not only to farm with precision and efficiency, but also to make all decisions, big and small.

 

Our first farm...

Over the course of 2014, we designed, built, and began operating our first farm, which we deployed in Hawthorne, CA - just 2 blocks from our role models at SpaceX and Tesla. This is where we truly honed our commercial growing procedures, ran a continuous battery of full-system parallel trials, identified the engineering and product development pathways towards our Farms of the Future, and began working with our first commercial customers in LA!

Those were exciting times, but don’t get me wrong, we killed more than a few heads of lettuce along the way. As we like to say - "the pathway to success is structured, rapid failure." 

 

Our home at Vern Gully...

Over the past 6 months, we've continued to build the team, created our new headquarters in Vernon, CA, raised a round of capital, and have started deploying our first commercial-scale site to expand deliveries to our existing customer base. We are incredibly excited to bring healthy products to all of LA and all of you! 

This year, we absolutely can't wait for: 

  1. Continuing to build our team with the most talented individuals in the world!
  2. Finish building the current batch of farms and design the next generation!
  3. Expand to our 2nd geography and open up new and exciting product categories!

 

Where we’re going...

Our Mission is to improve global health by building a better food system.

Today, this means we are primarily focused on designing and building automated, controlled-environment, vertical farms to provide novel solutions for consumers and produce buyers throughout the global food system. From providing access to fresh, local, healthy produce in food deserts to commercial-scale solutions for large corporate buyers, we are developing the technologies to redesign the entire produce distribution system. As we continue to develop, our mission will lead us in some quite exciting directions.

While our goals are audacious, we are committed to relentlessly pursuing them. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Serve over 1 million meals in 2017.

  2. Deploy a fully automated farm by 2018.

  3. Save over 50 million gallons of water per year by 2019.

  4. Become a carbon negative company by 2020.

  5. Deploy farms in every major US city by 2025.

Over the next few months, we will blog about how we intend to hit each of these goals. We’d love for you to share in our goals and be part of our journey. Please follow us, visit us, try our produce, and spread the word about the future of farming!

Best,  Eric