Collaborative Fund recently led Square Roots’ seed round. We view food as one of the most important industries to back right now.
Three major trends are currently colliding to permanently alter the way we eat.
For the first time ever, more people are living in cities than rural areas. The United Nations estimates that by 2030, 5 billion people (over 60% of the population) will live in urban areas.
Consumers are ditching processed industrial food in favor of fresh, local products. This is especially true for younger generations who are distrustful of Big Food.
Farmers have the highest poverty rate of any sector in the global economy. The corollary: Fewer young people are choosing farming as a career, despite a desperate need for innovation.
In short, there simply isn’t enough fresh produce to feed our growing cities.
That’s where Square Roots comes in.
Square Roots builds urban farms out of shipping containers. These farms are often referred to as “vertical” because they’re three dimensional, offering more efficiency for a small surface area. Vertical farms are enormously beneficial to urban-dwellers, enabling delivery of fresh, local produce year-round while taking up minimal space and resources.
Building these farms would be enough to make a meaningful impact on our food system. But Square Roots is going one step further by also serving as an education platform.
Every year, Square Roots brings in a new class of entrepreneurs to manage and experiment with these vertical farms. The farms effectively become campuses for farming entrepreneurs.
While the technology behind the vertical farming containers is complex, the idea is simple: Connect consumers who want fresh, local, food with entrepreneurs who want to learn how to provide it.
Collab’s mission is similarly straightforward: Invest in companies that are pushing the world forward. In this way, Square Roots could not be a better partner. They’ve developed a program with incredible incentive alignment: A win-win-win-win-win scenario where consumers get healthier, better-tasting food; Aspiring farmers get the education they need to start an innovative new businesses; Cities get new infrastructure and higher employment; The climate gets a reprieve from food transportation pollution; And shareholders benefit from a market opportunity with higher margins than traditional farms.
There’s another reason we led Square Roots’ latest round: the team.
Cofounders Tobias Peggs and Kimbal Musk are uniquely experienced. As the founder of farm-to-table restaurant chain The Kitchen, Kimbal has demonstrated his commitment to catalyzing real food systems. As the former CEO of Aviary and OneRiot, Tobias has proven his ability to grow data-driven, tech-enabled businesses. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.
I can’t begin to predict how we’ll be consuming food in ten years.
Instead of gyms and lounges, will high rises have vegetable gardens and parks on their roofs? Will every windowsill be growing fresh herbs? Will meat and dairy be replaced by plant-based or cultured proteins? Will fast food chains become obsolete in favor of real food chains like Sweetgreen and The Kitchen?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know that farming is coming to the metropolises of America, and Square Roots will be there to guide the next generation of entrepreneurs to make it happen.