The World's 12 Most Innovative Companies
Despite winning over the hearts (and eyes) of 104 million viewers, the streaming service relentlessly tweaks and improves its offering. H...
As one of the first startups featured during Republic’s launch in 2016, we have achieved significant milestones since our first campaign! With the support of our investors, we successfully deployed our 2.0 beta AND our 3.0 model, and launched internationally.
We are ready for commercial expansion!
Local-based community farms have given way to large-scale industrial agriculture. But that focus on intensified production of a single crop has come at a significant price: it has degraded our soil, strained our natural resources, and decreased the nutritional value of our food.
Consumer demand for locally produced organic food has risen sharply over growing concerns of the environmental and health risks associated with chemically intensive industrialized agriculture. But our current infrastructure can’t keep up with the growing demand.
It is time to shift the focus from mass production to production by the masses.
Farm from a Box provides a scalable agricultural infrastructure to modernize community driven farming in a cost effective and sustainable way. It is the easiest and most efficient way to start and maintain a 2-acre planted farm.
The interchangeable components allow us to tailor the unit to different climates. Designed to conserve water, save energy, and help build a healthy soil, Farm from a Box enhances agricultural productivity with clean technology in a regenerative farming system. More production with less waste means more profit.
By participating in Autodesk's pro bono consulting, we are optimizing our product for improved manufacturing processes with designs that can be scaled in a rapid and cost-effective way.
By providing the tools and technology to grow a complete farm outside, our system supports any kind of crop- creating greater options for the user. If nutrition is the goal it can support fruits, vegetables, and plant based proteins. If income generation is the goal it can support whatever high-value crops suit the local market.
Working with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), we launched an urban farm unit, named “Karma,” to help recently resettled refugees from Nepal and Bhutan nourish themselves and their neighbors through community farming and small-business training. Rather than having a vacant piece of land in the middle of an urban subdivision, the surrounding community sees a beautiful farm, where they can buy fresh grown produce and get to know their new neighbors. Local restaurants love it because they can buy food farm-to-fork, and get to incorporate different of flavors in their menus.
Recently, the WFP has embraced a “Silicon Valley approach” to solving hunger across its global operations by launching bold new technologies and approaches to drive lasting change, and Farm from a Box is one of them!
Named with the World’s Most Innovative Companies, the World Food Programme’s Innovation Accelerator piloted the first Farm from a Box unit in Tanzania to increase the availability of nutritious crops and boost the income levels for both refugees and the surrounding host communities.
We've gone to great lengths to design, manufacture, and source only the highest quality components for Farm from a Box. We have developed partnerships with industry leaders in sustainability; combining “best-in-class” technology from globally recognized companies that ensure quality, longevity, and support. These global partners allow us to quickly, efficiently scale our product within multiple markets through their existing distribution channels.
Farm from a Box ‘s unique selling point as a complete IoT enabled farm solution separates us from the main leaders in the market. While our competition, Freight Farms and CropBox, focuses on niche solutions which help the growth of primarily leafy greens hydroponically inside of the container with LED lighting, Farm from a Box’s ability to collect and measure data with clean, efficient technologies allows farmers and communities to improve operational efficiency, optimize water and energy use, and drive production and profits.
By providing the tools and technology to grow a complete farm outside, our system supports any kind of crop- creating greater options for the user. If nutrition is the goal it can support fruits, vegetables, and plant based proteins. If income generation is the goal it can support whatever high-value crops suit the local market.
We have been featured as an innovation in agriculture and food security in several publications and sites, with 7 Million views from the World Economic Forum.
Local, organic food has grown from niche market to a booming new economy.
Nearly 82% of American households consume organic foods, but only 5% of total food production is organic. With 10% year-over-year growth for the past 5 years, the supply cannot currently keep pace with the demand.
This is a $107 Billion Total Addressable Market. The opportunity to scale up a turnkey tech-enabled infrastructure for small scale farming is massive.
The road to new, profitable markets and to expansion beyond direct-to-consumer sales is paved with infrastructure. Our initial focus will be on individual and commercial farmers within the U.S. as 85% of our buyer interest in coming from this customer base- a $9 Billion dollar market segment.
Since launching our initial prototype and 2.0 beta, customer outreach for our product has grown at a rapid rate. 10x the growth since our first 2016 Republic campaign!
This inbound outreach has allowed us to quantify prospective customer interest and collect valuable data on what our customers are looking for, and what market segments they are coming from. Our 3.0 model has been fine-tuned to respond to those needs, in a cost- effective and scalable design.
Direct-to-consumer sales model allows us to reduce costly inventory, tailor-make units to order, and improve the consumer experience with a direct product-buyer relationship.
After a basic assessment, the product is made to order, shipped to the buyer's location, and deployed on site with a dedicated farm from a Box team.
There are nearly 550 million smallholder farms in the world today and that is expected to reach roughly 750 million by 2030. Climate change, land degradation, population growth and other global changes means smallholder agriculture has to rapidly evolve and adopt climate-resilient technologies on a large scale.
We are raising $535,000 to build our sales and marketing initiatives, streamline our manufacturing and deployment, and provide us with 12 months of runway for production and sales.
Our path forward
Over this past year, we have collected valuable user feedback, advanced the product, and have secured significant strategic partnerships. With our technology proven and a robust sales pipeline, it is time to dive into commercialization and sales!
Business can be a powerful agent for change. Let's shift how business impacts the world. We believe business can solve problems, increase efficiency, and foster vibrant healthy communities, while making a profit! Farm from a Box is working to do just that.
The idea struck us back in 2009.
We were building a Youth Empowerment Center in Kenya, using modified shipping containers around a soccer field to provide basic resources in education, health, and sport. But accessing fresh, nutritious food was a problem. Then it occurred to us - what if we could use a shipping container to provide the tools to start a farm and grow food right there? An all-in-one kit ... a "farm-in-a-box."
We spoke with some of the best minds in agriculture, biodiversity, and sustainable energy, farmers, government officials, and some of the largest aid providers in the world trying to understand what was needed and what could be done better. Their answer? We want the infrastructure to support reliable crop growth and the training to do it better. So that's what we built.
Together, we can build an industry-changing business that provides locally grown, healthy food to communities around the world.
Sometimes the best solutions are the most obvious – let’s give people the tools.
For people, planet and nutritious food for everyone!
The smallest investment amount that Farm from a Box is accepting.
The largest investment amount that Farm from a Box is accepting.
Farm from a Box needs to reach their minimum funding goal before
the deadline. If they don’t, all investments will be refunded.
The Crowd SAFE is an agreement for future equity in the startup,
meaning that it can convert to equity in the future.
The Crowd SAFE is an agreement for future equity in the startup, meaning that it can convert to equity in the future.
$25,000 – $535,000
Farm from a Box needs to raise
before the deadline. The maximum amount Farm from a Box is willing
to raise is $535K.
The complete 3.0 system retails at $55k, excluding local delivery. This is inclusive of the full 3kW power system, 2-acre water system with pump and filter, internal cold storage, Wi-Fi, and the Remote Data Monitoring system. When the system is delivered, our team will be there to ensure all technology is hooked up and you are ready to go! When sales and production ramp up, our margin will increase with economies of scale.
The Farm from a Box system is patent-pending. Trademarks and Registration has been filed and submitted.
We have the persistence, passion, and grit to lead this business. From technology to agriculture and manufacturing to government- we have built a network of global experts at our access. The founders skill sets complement one another, and we are going to build out the team to include full-time roles in engineering, agriculture, logistics, and data technology.
We expect the overall system to last for 15 years. Every aspect of the Box and its components has been designed and selected with maximum durability and simplicity in mind. The container itself will last for 20+ years, with other hardware items such as the PV system, water pump, invertor and battery storage all having an expected lifespan of 15-20 years. Other components, such as the irrigation system, will vary and may require some replacement.
It could be moved, yes. Some technology would need to be removed and put back inside the container. Once on site and deployed, the outside components that are operational in the field (the pump, the filtration unit, irrigation system, and any outside sensors) would need to be removed and put back into the unit for shipment. This would also include the solar panels and roof rack on top of the container.
Yes! Currently, we are offering the units in barn red, earth tan, and our new leaf green. We will also let you in on a little surprise, we also have plans to collaborate with artists and offer special edition units that are covered in art!
New ones. We did consider using old shipping containers, but we wouldn't be able to guarantee the quality and durability. Plus, the cost difference is very slight. Because we are going to manufacturing the units in a large quantity, it was also better to use a new "clean-slate" container.
No, there is no organic material in the system. Because out unit can support any kind of crop, selection of seeds depends entirely on what you want to grow.
Water is clearly a vital component to any farm, and our system is designed to conserve water and use it wisely. Because our system can adapt to different areas, we have developed different water access kits with pump systems that can operate in a groundwell system, hook up to a municipal line, and even pump from a river or lake.
2-acres if a bit of a sweet spot: it is large enough for a very abundant amount of food, while being small enough that it does not require any heavy machinery. It can operated by a family. Globally, the majority of small farms around the world are on about 2 acres and less. We wanted to make it a broad solution for the masses. Plus, the power generated from the PV system is enough to evenly distribute the water throughout the field while also powering the internal technology.
Yes. Music is the best and we encourage it. (plants like it, too)
Brandi: I'm ready. You're always nervous but you kind of take all of that nervous excitement and just basically turn it into your super hero powers so that you're all fired up to go on stage, so that's where I'm at. Surprisingly my background is not in farming, but my background is from the philanthropic sector so the idea of this really came from where is food ag going and where is food ag not going, and how can we address it differently. This is the first startup of this kind. I've had a consulting company called Humankind before, but that's a little bit different than actually building a big shipping container that's engineered to respond to local food production anywhere so this one's a new adventure.
My name is Brandi Decarli and I'm the co-founder of Farm From a Box, and we are going to revolutionize local food production. Let me tell you how this started. Several years ago my business partner and I were working on a project in Kenya and the community was really struggling to access enough food. They didn't have the infrastructure to be able to support local production, so we had an idea. What if we created a deliverable infrastructure that can strengthen local food production on the ground and enable a much more healthy food access situation? Well the original objective with this was to be able to provide more food, it actually extends way beyond that in terms of it's potential.
Conscious consumerism has entirely changed and shifted what it is that we eat, and our existing infrastructure cannot keep up with the demand. There's now nearly 82% of American households are eating organic food, but only 1% of our production is actually organic. This leaves a huge opportunity for technology to be able to come in and accelerate that shift forward. This is where Farm From a Box comes in. Farm From a Box is entirely powered by renewable energy and it comes with drip irrigation system to help save water, extend and stabilize crops through drought conditions, internal cold storage helps mitigate crop loss that happens in field and keeps the crops fresher longer. Wifi connectivity helps with information access and exchange. We've also plugged in a cloud based IOT system to be able to help monitor and track on farm efficiencies.
We've got 85% of our interested buyers are coming from individual commercial farmers that are looking to make more productive use of their land. 60% of that interest are people that are new to farming. By taking a lot of the guess work out of how to be able to immediately start a farm, we can help meet that consumer demand by influxing new farmers into the actual sector, but also be able to make sure that these farmers know what it is that they're doing and are fully supported by the technically that can actually make it happen. We've spent the past three years testing and developing this product and we've got it to the point now where it's a turnkey system that can limit a lot of the risk on the ground. We're raising right now to be able to commercialize this moving forward, expand our team, and start diving in with the buyer interest that we have.
Tim: Take us through how it looks if somebody wants to setup a new farm and they've got a plot of land and they want to start using your facility or box. What happens and how much do they pay for the box and then how does it payoff for them?
Brandi: Because it's an entire infrastructure, and like I said, we've taken the guesswork out. We've made it a lot easier than starting from scratch in terms of starting everything. Apart of what this patent pending system does is responds to what the on the ground situations are. We can actually plug this in almost Lego style to different water access systems, different user needs whether it's a school, whether it's a refugee camp like we just returned from, it gives the farmer maximum flexibility. The actual infrastructure is about $55,000, but once you have that, then you're setup for a good 15 years operating off of the abundance of energy that we have from the sky, so it's clean energy that powers the pump, moves the irrigation systems out, has the cold storage, which is 80% crop loss that we can actually save from that. It's a front end investment that ends up continually paying dividends down the line by amortizing it.
Bill: Have you sold some of these?
Brandi: We have. We've sold three.
Rajshree: In how long?
Brandi: I'm sorry?
Rajshree: In what span of time?
Brandi: We just starting commercializing this. In fact, one of the interesting trends is that there is a much stronger push in terms of localizing our food production but there is no clear cut way of how to go about doing that, so I think that goes to your question too. Perfect example is we just returned from Tanzania. The United Nations is even starting to shift how it is that it's approaching food aid and development. Rather than just approaching it from how is it that we feed all of these populations, how is it that we can help those populations produce for themselves. We're apart of that zero hunger challenge, so they can actually help scale and accelerate technologies like ours that can boost on the ground resilience of communities.
Tim: What's my payback as a farmer, and then how much land is the appropriate amount for this box?
Brandi: The sweet spot is about two acres to about a hectare, so two and a half acres. It's a sweet spot because that means you can basically run the farm on your own without having to have a tractor or specialized equipment. That's also what the majority of farms are globally. There's 550 million small-holder farmers in the world, and that number's expected to increase to 750 million in the next 15 years. It's a rapidly growing space.
Tim: Two acres, what does that produce if you're growing vegetables?
Brandi: I'm glad you asked that too because the system is actually crop-agnostic. A lot of this is going to depend on what it is that you choose to grow. In the example of vegetables, you could probably produce about 110,000 pounds off of a healthy two acre system.
Tim: Per month?
Brandi: Annually. That's a continual annual cycle-
Tim: A pound of vegetables is what, typically $1?
Brandi: This is where organic is coming in too because that's typically a higher price point. If you're going with something like heirloom tomatoes or early girls where you can produce 10 pounds on one square foot, you can earn a lot of money off of that. Off of two acres it's about $150,000 that we've kind of put that benchmark at annually. You end up getting payback.
Tim: So payback is about five months if you do it just right.
Brandi: If you do it just right, and even then, even if you extend it into a year you've still got the infrastructure setup for ongoing years thereafter.
Jessie: It's like a giant refrigerator.
Brandi: Well it's kind of like a giant transformer.
Jessie: Okay let's be a transformer.
Brandi: Back it up a little bit. If you take a 20 foot shipping container, about a third of that is this internal cold storage system. The rest of it is where you see a lot of this technology that's already housed inside. It's a secure storage space for housing that technology. You can think about it in terms of a secured technological barn that also has cold storage inside.
Tim: How much handholding do you have to do when you sell a box, do you have to, okay here's where you plug in the hose and here's where you, do you tie it to an electric circuit or do you not?
Brandi: Well you don't have to tie it to an electric circuit because it's an independent off-grid system, but the handholding-
Tim: Do you have batteries too, with the solar?
Brandi: There's batteries that are apart of the system too and we make sure they are definitely designed to last, but the handholding has been one of our challenges. There's so many variables when it comes to outdoor agriculture, how is it that you can speed those deployments up and make it easier? That's apart of our product development process, is how do we literally make it a two to three day deployment to get a farm up and running by literally plugging in blue to blue, green to green, and you're ready to go because everything else has been pre-installed. There is this huge shift in terms of how can we empower people to be able to really grow and maximize what they can do on their own land. The market potential of really being able to have a deliverable plug and play infrastructure that can jumpstart that for that exact reason, the-
Bill: So who do you have helping you do this?
Brandi: Well we've partnered with some of the biggest in the world.
Bill: No in your own staff.
Brandi: Oh myself, my business partner and we have three other team members.
Bill: Who is that?
Brandi: He's more on operations and project management and helping get things really going and execution.
Bill: So you're the marketing?
Brandi: I'm more marketing and strategy.
Rajshree: How do you get the word out on this?
Brandi: Thankfully well. The World Economic Forum did a film on us that got seven million hits. We've been in Fast Company. We've been in Smithsonian. We've got high level exposure right now with this project on the Zero Hunger challenge from the World Food Program.
Rajshree: A cost per unit to a farmer is $55,000.
Rajshree: In countries like Tanzania and so on and so forth, even though they might get it back in six months, or five months, or a year down the line, doesn't really matter, that's an exorbitant amount of money. How do you suppose they would come up with it, and I'm also not sure that they have two acres of land. If it was something smaller, what do you do?
Brandi: The World Food Program has been providing aid and aid and aid to these communities for years. That's not sustainable, so instead we are that alternative to that continual aid cycle so that they can actually say, "Okay rather than every year supplying you with food, let's team up together and be able to provide you with the infrastructure and the training to build your capacity and ability to be able to feed yourselves."
Rajshree: Have you had some feedback from the UN?
Brandi: We have. So far it's been going really well with the UN. We basically faced every challenge that we could in a really remote deployment that's out on the border of the Congo, three hours in on a dirt road. We literally took it to a seven day deployment even with challenges in terms of being able to get the truck in. So far so good in terms of it being a turnkey system that the community can uptake.
Tim: How often do people have to monitor this thing?
Brandi: You can literally monitor it from any web-based platform. You can pull out your smartphone, pull out an iPad, pull out your laptop and be able to see exactly how much energy the farm is producing, exactly how much water is being used, exactly what the temperature is in the cold storage. You can literally turn on and turn off the irrigation as needed too.
Tim: Do you have cameras going off of it so that you can see how the crops are doing?
Brandi: We can. We've done that before which was just kind of fun to be able to pull up the farm.
Bill: $35,000 is the cost or the price?
Brandi: The cost.
Bill: What's the price?
Brandi: 55, yes.
Bill: So you don't have much of a margin. I mean for all the work in sales and so on it sounds like you should sell it for $100,000.
Brandi: That's a possibility but we wanted to keep it as accessible as we could so that we could scale it out as fast as we could. Business model wise we sell it direct to consumer, exactly. We sell it direct to consumer but then we also have, in addition to that margin, an ongoing subscription service that provides extra support to the farmer too. Again, it helps take out a lot of that guesswork so that you're not just out on the farm on your own, but you can get technology upgrades and continual support along the way too.
Bill: Okay let's ask our studio audience-
Jessie: What does our audience have to say?
Bill: -To see if they've got any questions.
Speaker 8: Yes I just had a really good question. You mentioned that you sell each unit for $55,000 and it cost you $35,000. What does that include, manufacturing, shipping, who produces these units and is that all included in this $35,000 cost?
Brandi: Great question. We have done a lot of the heavy lifting on the front end and we've established two different manufacturing hubs just within the US alone, one here in California and one in Texas, so we can regionalize that. Included within that whole system is all of the core technology that you need to get yourself up and started, all of these systems to be able to support that two acre. We don't include seeds because that's up to the farmer to be able to choose what it is that they want to grow, but that's apart of it. Where we make our margins is actually through a lot of the negotiations that we've made with our providers. The pump, the irrigation system, the solar panel providers, they're providing us with a discount because they want to be apart of the entire collective system.
Speaker 8: Great. Thank you.
Brandi: Yeah, my pleasure.
Speaker 9: Is your ideal customer in the US or abroad?
Brandi: I think it's going to be both and I'll tell you why. That may not be the ideal thing to say but I'm going to be honest with it. It's both because in the US, for example Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods. Amazon came out the day after the acquisition and said, "We want to make organic food more affordable and accessible to everyone." Supply chains were like, "Woo that's great news." Then they're like, "Oh we can't support that actually," so I think that is a huge area, just within the US, is to ramp up production and the infrastructure in organics is not there quite yet.
Speaker 9: Yeah because I can see that there's a huge need for it abroad, but given your price point it just, I'm not sure if that would make sense. I'm wondering if there's a partnership that you could have that would subsidize the cost of this.
Brandi: I think there's a lot of different opportunities for partnership. Again, going to your concern in terms of the farmers aren't going to be able to pay for this, they're barely making ends meet now. However, what can this substitute that massive amounts of funding are actually going towards? This is more of a hardware software infrastructure play in order to be able to build the resilience on the ground. The number nine sustainable development goal initiated by the United Nations is infrastructure innovation because it's the very foundation of any functioning society in terms of being able to move forward. I think we're apart of that play also.
Tim: Well terrific. Well thank you so much for being on the show.
Brandi: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really appreciate the time.
Jessie: Thank you for coming back.
Brandi: Good to see you again.
Tim: Send me something on it. We might want it for Draper University.
Jessie: Well Rajshree, what was her spiritual assessment?
Rajshree: Just looking at her, energetically you can see she's full of vitality, full of energy, just taking in a lot of pieces, well educated and connects the dot. Interestingly enough, people represent what they speak about. If I were to discuss the idea, to me there's definitely vision there. It's very broad, it's very big, but I think what was missing for me is that it hasn't yet been brought down to earth. How do you make it so that it's a cookie cutter approach? There's too many pieces that are moving. I see that in her personality also. There's just so many pieces that are there-
Bill: What do you mean that's different from the average entrepreneur's program? Why do you say that, too many pieces?
Rajshree: In terms of her?
Bill: No, just what you meant by that.
Rajshree: Well she's over-animated for me, at a certain level, and certain questions, specific questions-
Bill: So that's a personality thing.
Rajshree: Yeah well specific questions, when they're not answered specifically it means you haven't distilled your information enough to get us there. I think that as an entrepreneur you need the vision but by the time you're sitting here, you need to distill it to a very specific place and it needs to be cookie cutter and her personality was very wide and very big.
Bill: She's probably the best salesmen we've seen.
Rajshree: Yes but she's doing the job of operation as she's sitting here, and I think there's a mismatch there.
Jessie: Well what do you two think? What are you thinking?
Bill: I think it's very worthwhile trying. She's sold three of these. I think it would be worth investing in. I'm not sure about the numbers. It sounded like not a big enough margin.
Tim: I think if it starts to work she could change the financial model-
Bill: And own them.
Tim: And own them all, and take a percentage of all the food that's produced and that could end up being a really, she could then be the farmer of the earth, the uber farmer of the earth and that could be pretty interesting. This is kind of a fun, interesting thing.
Bill: I think so too.
Jessie: I need to more deeply understand the technology within the box.
Rajshree: The services.
Jessie: The services that this is providing and how it really is changing a farmer's life.
Rajshree: I didn't walk away really knowing what's in the box, the exact services, and that's to my point in terms of operationalizing this, that has to come through very clear. It's no longer about broad vision and strokes. It's really about these are the bottom line-
Bill: About Tanzania-
Jessie: I don't know that much about farming so I'd like to learn more.
Bill: One acre fund that I mentioned is something that we at Draper Richard's Kaplan backed and they're very successful and now there's somebody that's copied them that we also back, but what they do is they group the buying requirements of the farmers for seed and lots of other thing, so they get things wholesale and they work as, One Acre Fund is the name of it, but it's basically buying for 50,000 acres, large numbers. They're very well known in Africa, have made the little one acre farmer profitable.
Rajshree: I think in Africa I would have a pinch about taking a percentage of the food that they produce. It might be okay here but I think there I would feel-
Tim: They don't care if it's organic or it's not.
Jessie: But they could be taking a piece of something. Well should we vote?
Tim: Yeah absolutely.
Jessie: Okay ready? Thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs all around. Loved her, need to know more.
Tim: I'm three quarters just seeing what that business model could look like way down the road. Can she be the farmer of the world?
Jessie: If you want to invest in the last company and you want to support these amazing farmer's boxes, for lack of better terminology, you can invest or vote right now in the next 48 hours. $10, $1,000, or just vote. This is your chance. If you want and you believe in this company, vote or invest.
Tim: Or buy a box.
Farm from a Box successfully raised $148,990 from 240 investors on March 17, 2018
organic food to be made available to all the people and made affordable.Dileep KudvaInvested about 1 year ago
Love the purpose. I have been watching for a while. Love the innovation and learning.Eric DennaInvested about 1 year ago
I believe this investment will be used world wide for many needed areasRalph PriesingInvested about 1 year ago
I believe in Brandi.Dennis YunInvested about 1 year ago
i love what you are doing. your company and approach look great - i'd love to help, be in touch!Robb MillerInvested about 1 year ago
Encouraging healthy eating and entrepreneurial spiritMarco PriceInvested about 1 year ago
Hola creo que es una gran iniciativa y espero que tengan todo el éxito que se merece la idea de sus granjas. Gracias.Román ParraInvested about 1 year ago
I believe in the founders, the company, and, their mission. -ScottieScott ForemanInvested about 1 year ago
i like the ideaYao Min NgInvested about 1 year ago
I am a principal in a new Company that will include an Impact Fund. We could be interested in a significant investment in Farm from a Box. Would like to chat with one of the principals when convenient.Brian HarrisInvested about 1 year ago
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