The indoor AG-con conference in Las Vegas gave us fresh new insight on stream lining operations at Laura Lee farms. Ronnie and I were particularly interested in purchasing new control equipment, growth medium and lighting as we complete our first 1 acre greenhouse at the White Arrow Ranch location in Idaho. That all was accomplished and much more!
We learned that we want to know much more about superior brand marketing as well as understanding our end consumer of the food products we bring to market. Supply chain was a key factor of how that comes together to get our consumers the best tasting and high quality produce from farm to table.
Of special interest was the topic of on-line food ordering from websites and players like overstock.com looking at an entry level into this multi billion dollar industry in its infancy stage. So many interesting new players were there at the conference to display and figure out how to best get fresh produce to the market quickly and competitively.
The creative ideas of how to innovate and speed up these supply chains in limited space in our larger cities were very fascinating. These guys retrofitting and developing affordable rooftop and abandoned buildings into growing facilities are on the cutting edge and taking huge risks to breakthrough the log jam of food chains coming from California in mass quantities. Indoor AG and greenhouse growing we learned are 2 different creatures but very related as both require controlled environment ideas, innovations and lighting equipment to make grow cycles fast and efficient.
This is only a fraction of the information we learned in this exciting new farming world we live in that faces many changes as we deplete water sources and continue to strip the land of nutrients needed for healthy sustainable food in the very near future.
The Indoor Ag Conference in Las Vegas this week was a great way to leverage time and expand our context at Laura Lee Farms. We met several of the largest indoor agriculture growers in one place and mined their brains for information, mistakes they have made, and shortcuts they have found. Mistakes are not failure. Mistakes are how we learn. Failure only occurs if we do not learn from the mistakes that inevitably happen. We learn from other people’s mistakes; a form of leverage.
Prevalent at the conference were LED lighting experts who used to be engineers at NASA, greenhouse builders, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning companies, entrepreneurs with established businesses looking to stay up on the industry trends and players, young entrepreneurs introducing their new businesses trying to claim their stake in this relatively new space, and investors or venture capitalists looking for the company that will be the breakthrough of the industry. Will that breakthrough be Laura Lee Farms? It’s up to our team at Laura Lee Farms to make that happen.
Cashflow is king. The question we asked everyone at the conference was, “how is your cashflow, are you profitable, and how and when do you plan to return your investors’ dollars? Investors are looking to deploy their dollars with the intention of those dollars being returned with friends. Entrepreneurs better have a plan to make that happen before they accept investors’ dollars! Ken McElroy has a cashflow and return of investment plan; do you?
Ceasar Layton, founder of Cultivate Ventures, was on a speaking panel and talked about business models, systems that actually work (9 out of 10 business systems do not work for what they say they do), responsibility for your dollars and investors’ dollars. After the panel, we sat down with Ceasar and discussed the “healthy fast casual” food business industry and he confirmed that McDonald’s profits are declining and that the corporation is losing control of markets such as Washington D.C. with health conscious companies like Sweet Green stealing more than their fair share of the market. Some people call that a CLUE. Thanks Ceasar.
We also met another panel speaker, Marc Oshima, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of AeroFarms. His extensive knowledge and experience with business and marketing was obvious. We took advantage of the opportunity to get around someone smarter than us to expand our context. It worked. This conversation was priceless bonus time. Thanks Marc.
And we met many entrepreneurs who were not speakers at the conference who were there for the same reason that we were; to network and learn. Those conversations are very valuable and we are excited to follow and support their businesses.