Vertical Bounty will renovate an abandoned property by building a greenhouse and market to provide fresh vegetables to a community that has no direct access to such nutritious food. The company will employ local residents with decent, living wages, provide fresh food grown on site, and rehabilitate the community by converting an abandoned lot into a thriving business.
Fresh food is often taken for granted, but for over three thousand people living in Riviera Beach, Florida, it is a luxury they cannnot find or cannot afford. Vertical Bounty will grow fresh vegetables inside the community and sell it from a market right next to the greenhouse.
In addition to the greenhouse and hydroponic system, Vertical Bounty will also provide gardening classes to the community. The company will also fit garden beds into every nook and cranny on the property to provide a wide array of vegetables and fruits the community. These garden beds will be teaching tools for the gardening classes and inspiration to the local community to start their own back yard gardens.
Start Small to Grow Big
The ambitious plans of Vertical Bounty put it out of reach for investors. We have to start small, prove ourselves, and grow in a controlled way. The plan outlined below will do just that. All along the way, Vertical Bounty will gain valuable experience, learn from mistakes, and adjust accordingly. All the while though, the company will be providing fresh vegetables to the community. This is the key aspect of this three phase growth plan: the community comes first.
Vertical Bounty will put greenhouses on roofs. We will grow completely indoors under artificial lights. We will spread access to fresh vegetables throughout food deserts all over south-east Florida and beyond. We will always serve our communities first. But we have to start small in order to grow big.
New Startup Strategy
A lot has happened in the last 30 days as Vertical Bounty moves through the startup stage. One key piece of advice received was to boil the company’s concept down to its smallest part and then build up to the grand vision of a new greenhouse and custom built retail market. This is more of a challenge than it seems because the company’s culture is in the balance here. What is the company really about? If Vertical Bounty can only do a tiny portion of its intended mission, what is the most important part? These questions have been keeping the founder up at night because the immediate future of the company is in the balance, not to mention the long-term strategy.
Why Reduce the Scope
There are several reasons for reducing the scope of Vertical Bounty’s startup. First, the company needs experience on a variety of fronts. Chief amongst these is actually selling fresh vegetables to the community. In its most basic form, this can take place at a custom built vegetable stand. Starting this way will allow the company to gain valuable experience at a minimal startup cost.
The company also needs experience at growing its own food on the property. While the greenhouse and hydroponic system is the ultimate goal of the company, raised garden beds are also a key part of the plan. These garden beds are where the company will grow a wide array of fresh vegetables, and where the company will conduct its gardening classes for the community. The garden beds do not require a greenhouse. Teaching gardening classes is very important to the culture of the company.
Vertical Bounty also needs to have a track record to become more attractive to investors. This can only be done through sales, customer feedback, and growth over time. This can all be done from a few garden beds, stocking the vegetable stand from other local growers, and by having actual customers provide feedback through customer surveys and comments.
By opening the company on a smaller scale, Vertical Bounty can begin the process of growth while keeping overhead very low. The long term plans have not changed; the company will open up a greenhouse with a hydroponic system which will allow it to hire local workers and expand its sales to the wholesale and restaurant markets. But these long term plans require a solid start to justify the intensive capital that is required for the construction of the greenhouse and hydroponic system.
Vertical Bounty is about community first. The company will focus first on providing fresh vegetables to a community that does not have any access to them. We will bring food into a food desert. The company will not focus on building a greenhouse and hydroponic system, or the construction of a custom retail facility until after fresh produce can be provided to the neighborhood.
There is a great temptation to locate the greenhouse and hydroponic system somewhere else. This is compounded by the high profit of cash crops such as basil that can see the company to profitability much sooner than starting in the middle of the community. This option was considered at great length. What it boils down to is such a startup does not focus on the community. The option to start off in a remote location and focus on cash crops goes against the core mission of the community.
This brings up a second question: How will the company do this if the entire startup budget comes solely from the $10,000 fundraiser? Here is a breakdown of how the company will implement Phase 1 of its growth.
Build a vegetable stand to sell company and locally grown produce to the community.
Build garden beds to provide company grown produce and a place to teach gardening classes.
Storage shed to store equipment and house a cold-storage refrigerator
Security system and miscellaneous costs
Portable bathroom rental so that the employees and customers have somewhere to go to the restroom. This is not glorious, but it is necessary.
Bare minimum startup costs are $3,600. The remainder of the $10,000 will help ensure salary for the first few pay cycles, pay for gas to and from the fresh produce cross-dock facility, and help replenish the inventory of the vegetable stand.
This phase sees the purchase and construction of the greenhouse. This also includes the purchase, training and operation of the hydroponic system. We’re getting into the big time now!
The company will also have to renovate the storage shed into a larger, more commercial cold storage facility. This will allow the company to harvest and store its hydroponic produce for shipment to wholesalers. Processing a few vegetables from raised garden beds is very different than preparing hundreds of heads of leafy green vegetables for the retail market. The main difference is the necessity to immediately chill the hydroponic produce and to store it cold until the shipping truck arrives. If the leafy greens get too warm, they will immediately wilt and the crop will be lost.
Phase 3 sees the construction of a retail store front, small office space, our own restrooms, a research and development indoor growing room, and roof top gardens. Now we’re cooking with gas! This is where the company wants to be! This building, although fairly small, will provide everything the company needs to set itself up for future success.
The raised garden beds will be moved to the roof of the building. The vegetable stand will be moved to a second location. This will help spread fresh produce to other areas of the community that are outside of walking distance but still need access to fresh vegetables.
Vertical Bounty has made inroads with the local community through customer surveys, interaction with the Community Redevelopment Association and other growers in the area. The planning phase is nearly complete, but the company cannot continue unless seeded with modest start up funding.
The funds raised will:
Below is a Google streetview of the property the company intends to renovate. This empty lot serves no positive purpose for the community yet it can provide enough food to feed hundreds of people.
Vertical Bounty was started to help solve an ever growing food crisis in America. There is an increasing demand for food. The supply comes from great distances, often from different countries. This created a situation where fresh food became a luxury while many find themselves unable to even locate a reliable source of affordable and nutritious food. Communities find themselves relying on fast food and grocers that only carry canned products. Vertical Bounty wants to solve this food injustice one community at a time.
Mr. Rudy founded Vertical Bounty. Mr. Rudy is dedicated to providing an oasis of garden fresh food right in the middle of food deserts throughout the United States and is starting right in his own back yard. Mr. Rudy’s professional background consists of researching, documenting, and teaching complicated concepts that range from legal support software to biometric identification platforms.
Mr. Rudy graduated from the Virginia Military Institute with a Bachelor of Arts in English, served his country as an Army Infantry officer, and has traveled throughout the United States for various professional pursuits. He is currently enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration program and is expected to graduate early in 2015.
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