60 second start-up: Grow Up

0-5 seconds: Sum your business up in a sentence:

We build urban farms that produce fresh fish, salads and herbs in a sustainable system that can be built anywhere in the city.

5-10 seconds: What's the business model?

We use aquaponics to grow fish and vegetables in a soilless recirculating system. In aquaponics, water is cycled from fish tanks through plants and back into the fish tanks. The plants absorb the waste nutrients in the water, and in turn, filter and purify the water for the fish.

We build the farms on rooftops and unused urban spaces, we sell the produce, and we build farms for other people and teach them how to operate them successfully.

10-15 seconds: Who are your competitors?

People like Lufa Farms and Brightfarms in the US and Canada who are building big hydroponics greenhouses on rooftops in North America.

We’re also competing with traditional farming methods that are bad for the environment and won’t be able to feed a rising global population if we carry on reducing the productivity of the soil in the way we do at the moment.

15-20 seconds: What's your USP?

We grow the best salad you’ll ever taste, grown within a mile of where you’re eating it, with no chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

20-25 seconds: How have you funded it so far?

We raised over £16500 through a Kickstarter campaign and sell our salads. We’ve also each put money into the business to get us through the challenging first year of being a new start-up.

25-30 seconds: What were you doing before?

Kate was a strategy consultant and Tom was a sustainability consultant.

30-35 seconds: Where did the idea come from?

Aquaponics has been around for hundreds of years, but is still relatively unknown in the UK. We want to show that it’s possible to grow great food sustainably in the city at a commercial scale.

We’ve both always been passionate about food and we think that the way we feed people in cities needs to change if we’re going to build the sustainable cities of the future.

35-40 seconds: What's the smartest thing you've done so far?

Designed, built and started selling salad from the GrowUp Box in fewer than six months when everyone else was just talking about aquaponics as an idea.

40-45 seconds: What's the stupidest?

Getting a parking ticket on our shipping container as we waited to deliver it to the site where we were going to build the GrowUp Box.

45-50 seconds: If your business was a biscuit, what would it be?

A salad biscuit? That doesn’t sound that nice actually. A fish biscuit? OK that sounds worse. If GrowUp was a biscuit it would be a triple chocolate chip cookie.

We don’t see the point in a biscuit that doesn’t have chocolate in, just like we don’t see the point of growing delicious food if you’re not doing it in a way that is good for the environment and the people who eat your produce. 

50-55 seconds: Which idea are you a bit jealous of?

Zipcar – a brilliant solution to an urban problem.

55-60 seconds: Where are you going to be in 12 months' time?

Harvesting salad every day from our rooftop farm in central London and building more farms.


To find out more about Grow Up, click here, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

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