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Do You Have A Green Thumb?

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September 23, 2019

I don’t.  Literally every plant I purchase finds itself on a loosing battle with life support.  Though it hardly speaks to my horticultural acumen, however, I’ve experienced success with bamboo!

Going green is certainly top of mind these days, particularly following last Friday’s Youth Climate Strike.  This record breaking rally for climate change activated more than 4 million people around the world, including #ThursdayGathering regular: 17 year old John Paul Mejia.

Sustainability is more than a fad. According to Nielsen, the majority (73%) of consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment. And, we’re seeing a trend of impressive high growth sustainable startups, including:

  • Freight Farms, a Boston-based startup that develops shipping containers turned into self-contained farms, including signature hydroponic offering, The Greenery. So far, Freight Farms has raised a total of $12.2 million in venture funding.

So this week this we’re exploring the question: what is the optimal environment for cultivating a sustainable idea?

Here are few tips to keep in mind:

Don’t Get Snatched

You’re in for trouble if you simply sprinkle seeds on the ground and expect them to grow into a tropical rainforest. Experience gardeners know that this strategy results more foods for birds that plants who see the light of day. 

The same goes for your best ideas.  Oversharing opens up the opportunity to get snatched.  Thus, while differentiation always lies in how one executes, it’s also important to balance protecting your IP (intellectual property) with sharing just enough of your concept to refine it further.  (P.S. don’ forget to sign up for VCM’s IP Legal Office Hours for a head start).

Avoid Premature Ejection

Do you remember the elementary school rite of passage known as the “Bean Stalk” science project? If so, then you probably recall that planting your seed to shallow soil leads to a shorter shelf life. (along with no water, or no sunlight!)  Indeed, the key to plant resilience lies with its well-developed root system– both invisible without further investigation and often deep below the surface.

Similarly, failing to the adequate research on your idea often leads to a false positive.  Absent a strong foundation like compliance with applicable regulations, an understanding of market adoption, potential competitors or a breakdown of the costs of goods sold, it is difficult to fully appreciate whether your concept has legs. Due diligence, though tedious, ensures may prevent you from making a premature pitch or entering the market before your idea is fully baked.

Activate Crowd Control

Inherently invasive, weeds are a nuisance. They learn to grow well among the intended foliage, but siphon the essentials that help your favorite plants grow.  Typically they overcrowd, and in the extreme circumstance, choke the life from plants.  

What weeds prevent your ideas from taking life? Perhaps it’s fear, time allocation, past failures, funding or lack of opportunities.  We know that if left untended, gardens fall victim to unwelcome weeds. The same goes for your startup journey.  You can dismantle your roadblocks. It takes daily or regular attention to the problems– solving each, little by little, one step at a time.

Finding the Balance

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and can determine which plants are likely to thrive at a particular location.  What it illustrates is there is no “perfect” environment to cultivating your next venture. Rather, idea sustainability is about finding a balance between known external influences and the right amount of personal commitment.


Leigh-Ann / Venture Cafe Miami

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