In this podcast, Emiliano Gutierrez shares his entrepreneurial journey of creating a sustainable food system through vertical farming. He discusses his vision for using technology, such as solar energy, LEDs, blockchain, and NFTs, to transform the way we think about growing food. Gutierrez shares his personal experiences of building a business from the ground up and the challenges and opportunities that come with it. He also talks about his plans for leveraging blockchain and other technologies to power a decentralized food system. This podcast is a must-listen for anyone interested in startups, agriculture, or global solutions and who wants to become an agent of change for a better planet.
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- Learn how Emiliano’s diverse background and experience inspired him to innovate and create an impact in the food industry
- Find out how his entrepreneurial journey led him to create a vertical farming business with a hybrid energy model using LED lights and natural lights
- Discover how Raiz Farms is leveraging technology, including blockchain and NFTs, to create a decentralized and traceable food system
- Hear about their innovative modular 3D printed farm wall made of biomaterials, intended for local communities, co-working spaces, and regenerative villages
- Learn about Raiz’s mission to provide sustainable bamboo housing in Myanmar and a co-working space in Lisbon that grows crops for communities
- Find out how Emiliano is constantly challenging himself and his team to ask tough questions about their purpose and impact, and how you can connect with him and his team to learn more.
“I felt I had the right expertise or at least the right perspective to be able to tackle it in a different manner and actually make something worthwhile that could be made different and take it to market effectively.”
“I think people are constantly looking to give to solid causes and to have animpact. So it's been, I would say, not easy, but easier to bring on boardtalented people to join the mission, because it's something that peoplebelieve in.”
“We went on the hunt, researching for lights that were able to be dimmableand that could be dynamically adapted and adjusted to the intensity of thesolar light on any given day. And then also installed our own little microgrid. So we have ten solar panels installed that can feed almost all of ourenergy needs.”
Emiliano's Website - www.raiz.farm
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Emiliano's Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Raiz Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/raizverticalfarm/
Raiz Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/raizverticalfarms
Raiz Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/company/raiz-vertical-farms/
Raiz Twitter - https://twitter.com/RaizFarms
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[0:00:01] Harry Duran: Let me close here. But all good.
[0:00:13] Emiliano Gutierrez: It took your advice, but grab the very big box.
[0:00:17] Harry Duran: Yeah, I've got mine here, too. I'm glad you read that's. Listen, though. Yeah, you get thirsty. Used to be surprised, you talk for an hour and your mouth gets dry, and then what happens? And I've seen this because I've been podcasting since 2014, you start lip smacking and you can see I know what that waveform looks like in audio now because I've seen it so many times. But it's because you're thirsty or your mouth is dry.
[0:00:49] Emiliano Gutierrez: Totally. No, I'm keeping it at hand. No worries.
[0:00:52] Harry Duran: Just don't drop it on your keyboard like I did two years ago. I was talking to a client, and I had my laptop on my desk, and I have a big water bottle, and I hit it, and the water bottle went completely over my entire keyboard on my Mac.
[0:01:11] Emiliano Gutierrez: Shit.
[0:01:12] Harry Duran: Completely.
[0:01:13] Emiliano Gutierrez: That actually happened to me as well, but not well, speaking.
[0:01:19] Harry Duran: Just yeah, that was a $3,000 mistake.
[0:01:26] Emiliano Gutierrez: We're prepared now.
[0:01:27] Harry Duran: Yeah. Okay, let's get started.
[0:01:30] Emiliano Gutierrez: Nice.
[0:01:32] Harry Duran: Emiliano gutierrez, CEO and co founder of Raise Farms. Thank you for joining me on the vertical Farming podcast.
[0:01:39] Emiliano Gutierrez: Thanks to you, Harry, it's a pleasure to be here. Honored.
[0:01:43] Harry Duran: Where is home for you? Where are you calling in from?
[0:01:47] Emiliano Gutierrez: Home is lisbon at the moment. lisbon, Portugal.
[0:01:52] Harry Duran: How long have you been there?
[0:01:55] Emiliano Gutierrez: Around two years now. So, yeah, I launched the company 2021. I actually lived here in 2017 and fell in love with the city of the ecosystem and everything that was going on. But that was six months. So, yeah, hitting two years now. A bit more.
[0:02:12] Harry Duran: I haven't been to Portugal. Heard a lot of good things about it, specifically lisbon. I've been to Spain, to Madrid and Barcelona. So for people that have not been, how would you describe the city?
[0:02:26] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah, amazing. Totally recommended. Sunny. When it's sunny right now, it's actually raining a bit, but they call it sunlist. It's great weather. Overall, amazing food, quite accessible, good people. And most importantly, I would say it's a rising startup ecosystem for all things startup, sustainability, web three, et cetera. So it's a great place to be.
[0:02:56] Harry Duran: And where are you originally from?
[0:02:59] Emiliano Gutierrez: Originally from Mexico. Born and raised in tj, tijuana, baja California.
[0:03:06] Harry Duran: Okay. What was growing up in tijuana like?
[0:03:11] Harry Duran: Fun.
[0:03:11] Emiliano Gutierrez: I would say it's by cultural.
[0:03:16] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:03:16] Emiliano Gutierrez: So we have a lot of the California influence, but of course, it's Mexico and the first city in the country from north to south. So it was challenging in the sense of trying to create something and trying to always expand. But it was also fun, and I would say a lucky child, blessed by great parents as well. That always pushed me towards learning and growing. So that's something I totally appreciate.
[0:03:56] Harry Duran: It must be an interesting dynamic growing up in tijuana because you have, arguably, what is the most attractive, alluring successful, biggest country, depending how you want to measure it, right there, so close. And I'm wondering growing up, what that was like as you were growing up. You were in school when you were in college. And I remember me, I grew up a little bit, not that similar, but I grew up just outside New York City. So if you look at a map, it's Manhattan, the bronx, and then yonkers, which is the city where I grew up. But I remember I had New York City sort of like in my backyard. I could see the Empire State Building from some places. And yonkers, because it's got a lot of hills and I was just like, I got to get there, I got to get there. So I'm curious if that was like, the same feeling for you.
[0:04:49] Emiliano Gutierrez: I totally get it. I've been to New York and also yonkers, but in terms of tj, I mean, it does happen, and I think it's something commonly known in certain circles in Mexico and especially baja, we used to go a lot. Right. Funnily enough, we call it Elotor lalo or the other side. You go to elotrolado every weekend or so. And of course there's always the option of studying there if you want or family wants it, et cetera. And it's an interesting and I would say challenging thing for both myself and families choosing to go there to get the double nationality, et cetera. I would say the advantage of being able to go often to have family over there both in California and New York and get the exposure I'll share more further ahead, but actually worked for a couple of programs on entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and in New York. But as a child, you get to see both worlds, and I would say that also influences what you want to create further ahead.
[0:06:09] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:06:09] Emiliano Gutierrez: So I always had that well ingrained in terms of what is possible and what's driving innovation, for example, in California, Silicon Valley. So it was something ingrained that I've been trying to reach or adapt.
[0:06:22] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:06:23] Emiliano Gutierrez: So it's pros and cons, but definitely something that made me learn in the early days and still does. I'm sorry, I didn't catch that.
[0:06:38] Harry Duran: You mentioned New York. You mentioned Silicon Valley. So I get the sense we can move now into your university days. Like, did a lot of that color or influence how you started to think about what you wanted to study, what you wanted to learn more about?
[0:06:55] Emiliano Gutierrez: Definitely, I think, funny you mentioned I thought about it that way, but yeah, I always felt the thrill to create, to do something of my own and to innovate in one way or another to make an impact. And that did affect my college choice and education, especially what I pursued. I studied business.
[0:07:22] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:07:23] Emiliano Gutierrez: So it was, in a way, what I thought gave me certain tools to build without necessarily knowing from the get go what I wanted to build, but I felt that I had the tools and also the programs and context to be able to make things happen. Right, but thinking back, it did affect having the vicinity with Silicon Valley, New York, et cetera, where things are happening.
[0:07:53] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:07:53] Emiliano Gutierrez: And where arguably still the most or quite a bit of innovation is happening. I think that did play a role in into shaping, let's say, my aspirations, in a way.
[0:08:07] Harry Duran: You said family, your family in New York?
[0:08:10] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah, in Brooklyn.
[0:08:12] Harry Duran: Okay. What part of Brooklyn?
[0:08:16] Emiliano Gutierrez: It's the grass street. So I would say what is it? Carol?
[0:08:21] Harry Duran: Carol gardens.
[0:08:22] Emiliano Gutierrez: Part of Gardens, yeah, I think so nicely. I love to walk around and actually my first experience I guess we'll get into that, but my first experience with vertical farming, or cea, was actually New York City as well. Definitely opened the doors and my eyes to new realms of possibility.
[0:08:45] Harry Duran: What were some of the early entrepreneurial ventures you started?
[0:08:53] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah, of course, from the mythical selling lemonade in pj when I was a kid or other stuff.
[0:09:02] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:09:03] Emiliano Gutierrez: But I would say most prominently events during high school, et cetera. I was doing crazy events. Funnily enough, we did the world's biggest civil liberal after this crazy film that appeared, we hired an actor that was very popular at the moment in Mexico. And it was a wild success when Fire. So it was like just making it happen and just assuring that things could be made and were successful. So, yeah, it was like a prominent one and something that just pushed me towards creating more and generating more content for people.
[0:09:52] Harry Duran: And then you started working, you had some time in solar as well. If I would assess some of that on LinkedIn also.
[0:10:02] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah, a couple of things in solar. One of them was with Bright Solar, Silicon Valley startup working in Mexico mostly, but that was just a brief period as an ambassador helping position solar panels with Presidential. Then I went on my own in terms of creating a concept for decentralized energy resources to generate renewable energy credits and be able to plug into the market, which is usually restricted to bigger players. And we did a pilot also with the University in latam. With Energy Web Foundation. And that actually was another touch point with vertical farming, as we also needed on the demand side, high energy consumers or people that could potentially generate their own energy. And as we know, energy is one key piece of the vertical farming equation.
[0:11:04] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:11:04] Emiliano Gutierrez: So happy to share a bit more about that. And finally, in terms of the solar, I had a season working in the solar industry in Australia that was 2020 or so. Also, like doing consulting and residential and commercial sales of energy. So that was also a good approach in terms of that field.
[0:11:32] Harry Duran: So talk to me a little bit about mindset, obviously, given what we've already heard. So far. You definitely one for adventure and one for traveling. Tell me the story about how you end up in Australia.
[0:11:46] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah, so, Australia a couple of things. Totally adventure and travel and creation. Australia was actually a joint decision, I would say, of my partner, my girlfriend and myself. She actually led the way by studying there, her Masters in uni Melbourne. I was just finishing college and working on some side projects, and I knew that Australia was big for energy and also lifestyle and everything. So for me, it was a no brainer, right. Following the heart, but also being able to work on an industry that I was passionate about. And that was like world leading on that side, which it was at the moment, in terms of the country and hydropower, solar, et cetera. So, yes, I was quick enough to make the call and go there, of course, with all the logistics and bureaucratic issues attached. But I've seen that that's something that can be solved and it's always, where there's a will, there's a way. So, yeah, we made it happen in late 2019, early 2020.
[0:13:06] Harry Duran: Talk about timing. Yeah, there's some stuff happening in early 2020. So how did that like it's so funny how how many people thought they knew what 2020 was going to be in like, January and February and, you know, and especially with with travel, I'm wondering what your experience was like as everything was happening.
[0:13:30] Emiliano Gutierrez: Totally was one of the first places to be here, in a way, or have that coming in from Asia.
[0:13:38] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:13:38] Emiliano Gutierrez: So it was interesting. Totally a change of possibilities, a change of mindset in terms of what you could do or could not like. Australia was also quite rough on the measures it took. I think they did well, at least in the beginning, to do so, it was quite clear what you could and couldn't do. Thankfully, I had this job with the energy side of things and I could do remote working, so that was great. And I had been doing remote working since, I would say, 2018, so that was also a big advantage in my side. And to be honest, I took the time to go deeper into a couple of things, both the energy side, but also that's when I started going deeper into vertical farming. Right. Yeah, I had the time. You had a laptop, right. You have access to millions of files and things to do research on. So, yeah, luckily enough, I think I used the time well to start building and start going deeper into the matter.
[0:14:52] Harry Duran: Something else it looks like you went deeper into is blockchain.
[0:14:55] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah.
[0:14:56] Harry Duran: And so all these things, we're going to try to bring everything back together. But how did that interest start? Because it looks like 2019, according to what I see. But talk about where that curiosity started for you.
[0:15:13] Harry Duran: Absolutely.
[0:15:13] Emiliano Gutierrez: I think that started in lisbon, 2017, with people talking, friends talking about it, both on the core principles of decentralization and yeah, distributed technology and and traceability, which was quite interesting at the beginning and also at a philosophical level, but of course, also all the rage with the icos and everything was going on, and the boolean was just starting. So it was, like, still very attractive and interesting. And then I just went to the rabbit hole. Both yeah, I think it's been three major rabbit holes during these last couple of years. One of them is blockchain, another is energy, and of course, vertical farming. And yes, we'll totally intertwine them together, but, yeah, that started with good friends telling me about it, reading white papers, going deeper into projects. And then back in Mexico, I was in lisbon, I was doing an exchange and also working with a couple of projects over here. When I came back to Mexico, I started this blockchain developer lab called Blockchain devs, where we trained developers and engineers just on the basics of blockchain technology. Smart contracts, first leveraging ethereum, which was not the best, but the most developed language initially, or protocol, and just doing partnerships with different programs, different initiatives, all the way from centralized finance to energy to this core blockchain technology. And I've kept interested on it since then, sometimes more than others, like collaborating with different projects on that. And, yeah, until we reach the point. I stepped back a bit while focusing on raise and I guess we'll get there. But funnily enough, one thing led to another and right now we're also developing a solid component, integrating blockchain and vertical farming.
[0:17:37] Harry Duran: So many exciting industries and things that are really top of mind for a lot of folks. So it must be hard to kind of go down. One. I can definitely relate. I always am the type of person I used to call it chasing shiny objects, but now I think it's just like passions and interests. And I've accepted the fact that I'm going to have a lot of passions and I'm going to have a lot of interests, and I think it's just a matter of finding the time. I'm going down like a chat. gpt AI rabbit hole. Now, what's happening there is moving. Talk about stuff that's moving exponentially fast. So it's really interesting to see how it's all coming together and how it's all helping us. When used properly and put to good use, there's people that hear the term whipped through or hear the term blockchain or hear the term nfp and just immediately roll their eyes and just be like, oh, that's a hype. And I think understanding the best parts of all these tools and knowing how to put them to use, I think is going to be a valuable skill set going forward. So I definitely applaud your curiosity.
[0:18:45] Emiliano Gutierrez: Thank you. Yes, totally relate there, but I think it's about compounding knowledge and compounding context. As you said, it's exponential growing trends. So if we can match them both with what you want to build and the passions, as you mentioned, with what's going on in the world out there.
[0:19:07] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:19:07] Emiliano Gutierrez: You can compound those interests and knowledge and infrastructure that you potentially have built and then intersect between those.
[0:19:18] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:19:18] Emiliano Gutierrez: So it's very exciting, as you say, and yeah, it takes time.
[0:19:25] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:19:25] Emiliano Gutierrez: And I think one thing there, I guess, for the audience, it's good that going into his rabbit holes, but I think it should also be met with some kind of consistency.
[0:19:38] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:19:38] Emiliano Gutierrez: It's not just like it shouldn't be just a fad and then go, but it's like, okay, if we can build serious knowledge there and then create a tool set that we can apply to different projects, as you said, can be very valuable for their head.
[0:19:54] Harry Duran: Out of curiosity, what's the equivalent in Spanish for rabbit hole?
[0:19:59] Emiliano Gutierrez: I don't know.
[0:20:02] Harry Duran: Because it's not like loyalty. There's got to be some other phrase that talks about, like, just like this Alice in wonderland, like going absolutely.
[0:20:12] Emiliano Gutierrez: That's one of the disadvantages of being born and raised in tj is the englishman. Find yourself speaking English a lot of times, but yeah, I'll give it a thing for sure.
[0:20:24] Harry Duran: So okay. Moving closer and closer to present day, I do have just one question. If I was to ask your parents or your family if this was something in you that you're always curious, always wanting to learn more, would they say that this has been something that's obvious, that this was a trend for you?
[0:20:46] Emiliano Gutierrez: Maybe? Yes, I think definitely in terms of the curiosity of different fields and different facets of myself and of just life as a whole, I think they would point out to different sports that I wanted to try out and different kinds of people that I wanted to hang out with right. From all kinds of people and all kinds of knowledge. I always thought people and things have so much to teach us, so better not to just be square minded. I think there's a lot to learn and a lot to be gained and acquired from different sides. So maybe yes, they would say yes.
[0:21:26] Harry Duran: So of all the passions and all the things that were starting to interest you and get on your radar, what was it specifically about vertical farms that had you more focused and decide that this is going to be the next project for you?
[0:21:41] Emiliano Gutierrez: It was again like 2020, and actually there was a lack of of produce in the supermarkets, at least. At least that happened to me in in Australia.
[0:21:51] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:21:51] Emiliano Gutierrez: So, yeah, there was that rising need, which was very tangible, and yeah, I had still, like, I had been talking about it since 2016, 2017, but not really taking action, just like going a bit more on the theoretical side. But once I hit and I saw, for example, on the energy side, that vertical farms were also having that hard time in terms of energy sourcing and the opex coming out of energy, I thought I had the knowledge or at least the perspective to be able to make it differently and to make it work. And it was also something very actionable right. That I thought we could move forward with and validate and launch the market. How are you there? Hey, man, we're back.
[0:23:26] Harry Duran: Yeah, it could have been you or me, so I'm not sure.
[0:23:29] Emiliano Gutierrez: Okay.
[0:23:32] Harry Duran: So you were talking about the timing when you were in Australia and everything was happening with opec and stuff. So you can pick it up from there.
[0:23:41] Emiliano Gutierrez: Oh, yeah. The opecs in terms of the energy.
[0:23:44] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:23:45] Emiliano Gutierrez: So I felt I had the right expertise or at least the right perspective to be able to tackle it in a different manner and actually make something worthwhile that could be made different and take it to market effectively. Vertical farming and let's say value added products and local food was something that was on the radar and that I, as a client or customer, was looking for and that I also validated with other potential clients and users. That was something that they were looking for.
[0:24:19] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:24:19] Emiliano Gutierrez: So it was something tangible, effective that I knew we could make happen. So that's also why I said, let's go.
[0:24:31] Harry Duran: So how do you start an initiative like this? Obviously, you've had experience with some of the businesses you worked in before, but this is your first time as a CEO, right?
[0:24:41] Emiliano Gutierrez: It is, yeah.
[0:24:42] Harry Duran: Okay, so I'm curious about your mindset and how you put together a plan of action and talk about that first year, how you build a team, how you think about what your offering is going to be and just product market fit and all that stuff. Because a lot of the things that new ceos and starting a business really give some thought to absolutely.
[0:25:05] Emiliano Gutierrez: No. It is, I would say, an evolving process. And I think we should always be looking for a refining product, market fit and always in constant interaction with the client and the user. But to answer your question, in the first year, I had actually met my cto, Simon in Silicon Valley 2018, while I was running this entrepreneurship boot camp in partnership with berkeley. And we had already dabbled with the idea of building something of sorts. Again, I had already been in New York with this. It was Sky Vegetables, also in partnership, in a way, with agriculture in this program. So I had this idea of how it could be done, but definitely to reach back out to Simon and when you wanted to create something. So I would say first the team, the people, then leveraging existing network, I would say, is something critical, like, first going deeper on my own in terms of, okay, what do I see? There is a gap for in the market, right. Or what can be built in this case, it was energy efficient farming because it was obviously that was one of the main, let's say, value adds that I could bring to the table. And that also was something critical in the industry. And I would say it still is, right? First, it was like honing in on that, expanding the team, I would say, and still is something that we are doing and constantly attracting talent. And I see vertical farming and the new food system or decentralized food system, which is our vision as something that is really empowering for people and attractive for people to join.
[0:27:12] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:27:13] Emiliano Gutierrez: So I think people are constantly looking to give to solid causes and to have an impact. So it's been, I would say, not easy, but easier to bring on board talented people to join the class and join the mission, because it's something that people believe in. And once you see, for example, a full harvest, it's something amazing.
[0:27:40] Harry Duran: Just to.
[0:27:40] Emiliano Gutierrez: Come back to the first year of operations, or at least of mindset building and structure. First, I met with Simon again, then stefano, who was first taking part as head grower. He had ran a microgram business in vienna. We had met in vienna in 2019, and we kept in touch, and it was like already creating something that was feasible to launch. Then I came to lisbon in October 2020, just to validate the market. And I would say here, and I would say a personal thing, but also something that has driven me forward. After Australia, I came to Europe. I came to Italy for a personal matter that my girlfriend had medical treatments to go through, important ones. So I knew I wanted to be by her side, or at least not as far as Mexico and Italy, right. She's Italian and she's better now, thank God. But that was also, I think, a catalyst for me to really take action and say, okay, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this in Europe, and we're going to do it great, and push me for excellence and push me for quality, because that was also something deeper at stake, right? So that's something that I know that it's valuable for me and that I encourage all the people to find what's that inner drive, right. For me, beyond that, what we're doing, I also have a vision of being able to take this to where it matters most, to people that are effectively famous, right? And that's still happening, but we'll get there. In terms of, I would say, to pair it up.
[0:29:44] Emiliano Gutierrez: Having a strong Y is key, right? And then through that strong Y, people will start to appear and join it.
[0:29:53] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:29:54] Emiliano Gutierrez: So, just coming back to the story, I came to Portugal, met my next co founder, aidan. We met through an mba network we were doing together. He was part of an agricultural startup here in lisbon, but also looking for something new and exciting. So the four of us kicked it off and we started effectively, as you said, looking for what was our value proposition, what we were doing, speaking with a lot of customers, speaking with a lot of suppliers, speaking with the restaurant, speaking with final customers, just exploring.
[0:30:35] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:30:35] Emiliano Gutierrez: That's the client discovery phase, the exploration, like, really finding what were our core capabilities and what we wanted to build. And then more people started engaging. Maria as a biologist, then lucia as a marketer and operations lead. So, yeah, we've been expanding the team and we keep growing. That led us to the phase of piloting. And we piloted in lisbon in a test chamber with a partner, Portuguese partner, that had set up a bit of a chamber. We set up the system. We started selling crops respectfully to the market. We had a great customer response, and I think that's key. You're right. So first validating the assumptions, because up till the point in which we sold the first plant of red basil or African blue basil, it's a crazy beautiful basil. That was just an idea. But once we evaluated that, we saw people going really wild and excited. Once we took, for example, the hydroponic system over there, and we started to teach people around a new way to produce food and even potentially to grow their own food locally and with all the benefits attached to it. So once that started to happen, then we knew that we were onto something and we were building something that people wanted.
[0:32:03] Harry Duran: What's the current state of the vertical farming market in Portugal?
[0:32:09] Emiliano Gutierrez: I would say it's still early stages. We're one of, let's say, five most prominent companies over here. There's been a couple of successful ones, but also that not the successful ones. We see a couple of projects working more on the engineering side of things, or also just like, growing for specific needs, both salads, tomatoes, etc. But we haven't seen or encountered any strong customer facing brands on that side of things. We know it's fertile ground, especially since people are moving more and more over here. So, yeah, that's interesting. And we saw it and also a strategic decision in terms of launching here. We saw it as an almost blank canvas for us to launch and expand and test and then expand throughout Europe and potentially towards across the Atlantic.
[0:33:14] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:33:14] Emiliano Gutierrez: But it was like, for us, easier to experiment and craft our own image and identity than it was, for example, and it was launched in New York or Berlin.
[0:33:24] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:33:27] Harry Duran: That's helpful to know. And so, for the benefit of the listener who may not know about race, can you describe what your current product offering is, who you're marketing to, and some of what you're offering, and also the nature of the installations that you're doing and the size as well.
[0:33:52] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah, so we launched our concept Farm in July last year, 2022. And in terms of the structure. It's one of a kind structure. We're leveraging a hybrid energy model, which means we have our own solar panels, we have natural light and leds. So it's two containers stacked upon each other. The one on top is again translucent with vertically urban leds on the back that allows to provide supplementary leds. And on the bottom, so the growing is on the top and the bottom part is logistics, both germination Station reservoir and workstations. So yeah, that's the set up. And we are growing and selling to restaurants and families, right? So that's the state of things right now, we also discovered or developed an experience line of things. So we're doing events, corporate lunches, workshops, et cetera. And we found that to be very profitable as well, beyond the plants. So that's, let's say, current offering, we're developing also our own proprietary software to be able to scale up and sell this in terms of farming as a service so you can have your own farm. And we aim to empower communities to build their own farms and to grow their own food mostly, right? So we have to make it as easily deployable and also as attractive to grow as possible.
[0:35:31] Emiliano Gutierrez: So also providing our growing network of clients, users and communities with our know how, our protocols, our distribution lines, our branding, et cetera, right? Beyond that, also being able to leverage Web Three. And that's where Web Three comes back, the return of the blockchain in terms of the financing side of things. So we know that capex can be a big hurdle for vertical farming entrepreneurs. So what if we can finance it in a decentralized fashion? For example, provide decentralized ownership or digital ownership of vertical farms for communities worldwide where they can get a piece of a farm, like a farm share, where you can get yields or profits coming from the plants, but also a solid traceability angle from the impact being generated in terms of water and energy mostly, which also pushes us to be very strict and very data driven about our resource consumption. And we're building that on a new protocol. They've been a solid partner for us and of course expanding. And the aim here and another product we're excited about is a farm wall we're developing. It will be out this year. But what's the last thing you mentioned?
[0:36:57] Harry Duran: A farm wall?
[0:36:58] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah, a farm wall. So we're aiming to develop a modular system, 3d, printed out of biomaterials, of course with the sensors and all the usability angles. So we see that as a very interesting starting point for local communities, both coworking spaces, but also regenerative villages which are on the rise worldwide. And most effectively, there's places in need where they don't necessarily have the capacity to launch a mid scale container farm or larger, but they want to start validating the use of hydroponics with their community. So we're building that to be very accessible to centralize. The production to 3d printing, but still keep our core branding and technology just being able to reach more people in a faster manner.
[0:37:55] Harry Duran: Talk a little bit about that because that's interesting. What would an example of that look like in the real world? Who would be a good fit for that? And how would that be implemented? And is there like a shared ownership or shared profit stream? Can you outline a little bit of what that would look like?
[0:38:11] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah. So I'll talk about communities already interested in the pipeline. For example, it comes to mind a regenerative hotel in Italy that wants to install it and wants to grow their own protocol site. But the farmland that they have is not very arable, which is happening more and more.
[0:38:31] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:38:31] Emiliano Gutierrez: We're losing arable land to different climate issues. So, yes, that's one. Another one, for example, it's a coworking space here in lisbon that would like to grow in their own crops for communities. And a third one that is exciting, I think it's more further ahead, but it's a project that we just started sticking with. They do sustainable bamboo housing in Myanmar, and that's a place that is really rough and people are hungry over there for real. And if we can take that technology over there and empower them to grow their own food, then that's something amazing. Then comes the economic side of things.
[0:39:09] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:39:09] Emiliano Gutierrez: So you mentioned profit sharing and shared ownership. And that's totally what we want to do. And also assigning a value to the impact on the people.
[0:39:18] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:39:18] Emiliano Gutierrez: So that's also where this whole new movement of refi or regenerative finance that is effectively leveraging Web Three for good and for climate action can also come in terms of allowing us to break a farm wall or a hydroponic system into pieces and allowing people worldwide to have a piece of ownership of that. And if it produces a profit, which it should, or have this flat fee, service fee, for example, with the coworking space, then that can be redistributed through the owners. And on the other side, for example, with the people in need in Myanmar, we would be partnering up with organizations that are already catering to those in terms of alleviating some of their needs. But also they're looking for solutions like effective solutions to help push that forward in terms of instead of just giving, for example, ubi or universal basic income or just giving money to people, they're looking for ways to channel that into effective action. So we see vertical farming and growing on site as a very powerful means to reengage community, activate people in need, and effectively feed them. Right. So that's something we're excited about.
[0:40:37] Harry Duran: Big, big goals, big, big vision. Yeah. You're teaching them to fish instead of just giving them the fish. Right? So I think it's really inspiring to see. And it sounds like you've got a lot on your plate. I'll come back to that, I'll come back to the blockchain and specifically the nft piece, which is interesting in a second in terms of the current offering. I think it's the first time I've heard about this hybrid model where you've got the leds, but you're also leveraging natural light as well. Can you talk a little bit about your decision to go down that model, where that was inspired from and why you think that makes sense for what you're trying to do?
[0:41:20] Emiliano Gutierrez: Absolutely, yeah. It was inspired, I would say, on the fact that one of the biggest costs for vertical farms is light.
[0:41:28] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:41:29] Emiliano Gutierrez: And then, most importantly, that a lot of vertical farming operations, or at least that was the alternative, plugging into the grid and using fossil fuel energy, which would defeat the purpose of what we're doing. So we knew that we had to optimize for energy. And the way we could do that, especially in a place like lisbon, is to allow natural light to go in for photosynthesis, but also make sure that they're growing at optimal levels through leds.
[0:42:05] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:42:06] Emiliano Gutierrez: So, yeah, we went on the hunt, let's say, and researching for lights that were able to be dimmable and that could be dynamically adapted and adjusted to the intensity of the solar light in any given day. And then also installed our own little micro grid. So we have ten solar panels installed that can feed almost all of our energy needs, which are mostly hvac and the leds at night or at mid evening. So, yeah, I think first the need to transition to sustainable energy source, then also the competitive advantage side of things, right? So we are able to diminish our costs towards that. Of course, the initial investment can rise if you install your own little microgrid or solar panels and battery system and inverter. But it definitely makes sense on the operational cost and the sustainability side of things. So, yeah, I do think that's the way to go. It's not for everyone or everywhere.
[0:43:14] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:43:15] Emiliano Gutierrez: But again, the energy is a key mix in this. It's key input. So, yeah, for every farm we build, we know that we will harness clean energy and if possible, develop our own microgrid solutions to launch these farms.
[0:43:34] Harry Duran: Do you envision a scenario? Because now I've got the Blockchain thinking in the background where these are connected together, communicating with each other, learning from each other.
[0:43:45] Emiliano Gutierrez: Of course, yes, they have to be every farm will be interconnected through software. Right? And then the idea is also for them to share resources and optimize. So if they can be connected, and then, let's say there's a surplus of produce on one side and of demand on the other, then they can be matched and balanced out.
[0:44:03] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:44:04] Emiliano Gutierrez: And on the energy side of things, then there's also a couple of opportunities that unlock. There, for example, on generating credits out of the energy that you're generating, clean energy that you're generating. And there's different lego blocks that can be put together to make it more efficient, more attractive.
[0:44:26] Harry Duran: Yeah. And so are these also modular within the individual installations? So if you've got the two stacked, if people wanted to have like four or eight, or is it built in a way where you can expand pretty easily?
[0:44:40] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yes, that's what we're building right now Inesh she's our lead architect and designer. And yes, she's leading that side of things with the farm wall. The ideal is that they're also modular, but that with a smart integration of farm walls, you could potentially build a farm, and then you just need the outside structure to deploy a farm, and then you can build it as big as you want or as small as you want.
[0:45:10] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:45:10] Emiliano Gutierrez: So it's definitely something that we're thinking of stacking them together and being able to cater either larger or mid or smaller communities.
[0:45:20] Harry Duran: So you mentioned the financing so far. Are you currently bootstrapped or is the financing going to be explored with what you talked about earlier with the blockchain and the nfts?
[0:45:33] Emiliano Gutierrez: Both. And that's a good one. So we bootstrapped until launching our MVP. So we launched our MVP, which is this test chamber, and created the brand. And everything we saw, it was a fit. So we expanded from one to six systems and this concept Farm, last year. And for that we did a crowdfunding campaign through indigo. That was 2021, ending December, and then we closed it in January last year, which was fun, challenging, but it was great successful. Then we received a couple of grants. We're raising a preset round right now. It's also focusing on expanding the software, expanding the blockchain protocol, but also launching a couple of new farms, reaching wider communities, especially right now in Europe, the iberian Peninsula, so Portugal and Spain, which is a more natural progression, but also developing this farmwell product, which could be placed worldwide. We have closed our first couple of tickets for this precedent round, but I think if there's any investor out there listening to this, it would be a lot to connect. And we're also looking for smart capital that can help us really hone in on our vision and achieve our goals in a faster, more efficient manner.
[0:47:00] Harry Duran: Very exciting. And I'm sure there's probably several that are listening here. So I'll give you some time for an ask later, but talk a little bit about so much to cover here. So I know that there's probably going to be people reaching out for questions, but curious about. I saw that's something different. What you're doing with near and people's experience with entities are very mixed and people putting it in the hype categories. I'm wondering if you could sort of, in 30 seconds, kind of overview the nft world and why that's interesting for people that may not have even heard of the term, and then how, because of your experience with blockchain, how you're understanding that this could be something interesting for you to use and something you've experimented with totally.
[0:47:53] Emiliano Gutierrez: So non fungible tokens are just a digital representation that is unique, right. And beyond the nfps and the terminology, I would say the reason we're building with near and beyond this blockchain layer is to decentralize financing and for a higher traceability of our processes.
[0:48:16] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:48:17] Emiliano Gutierrez: So blockchain at a core is a distributed technology that allows us to bring a higher degree of transparency and decentralization on different angles.
[0:48:26] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:48:27] Emiliano Gutierrez: The way we are leveraging what we have started using it as use cases is through this plan of teas.
[0:48:35] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:48:35] Emiliano Gutierrez: So plants, plants, we created these nfts that was last year, that equated some of our plants, some of our systems. And people could, for example, get a membership of our crops through acquiring Nnft. That was just like a first step with mintbase and also a marketplace within the near protocol. Right now we're exploring with this farm share concept, which is interesting. It won't be nft in the future, it will be a fungible token, a utility token, but hopefully the terminology will be out of it. So what we aim to do is just to allow people to have a piece of ownership of a new decentralized food system, right? So if you can own that, if you can take part of that, then you have incentives aligned to grow that network of a positive asset or a climate positive asset or society positive asset.
[0:49:31] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:49:31] Emiliano Gutierrez: So if you can have a piece of a vertical farming network, wouldn't you be excited? What if you could have a profit from that? What if you could help feed other people? And we see a lot of interest on that. So I would say blockchain for us is just a tool for a higher scalability going ahead, right? And there's definitely funds to be gathered from that and eventually for it to be a mechanism that allows us to scale up the vertical farming network by itself.
[0:50:05] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:50:06] Emiliano Gutierrez: So if we have a solid enough digital asset that is baked into the unit economics of the vertical farming network, then as the farming network grows, also the profit and the value of that asset so it can effectively fund the deployment of new farms by itself.
[0:50:28] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:50:28] Emiliano Gutierrez: So, yes, we can take an hour just on this topic.
[0:50:33] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:50:33] Emiliano Gutierrez: But what we're aiming to do here is leverage technology to be able to deploy more farms where it matters at a faster pace in a more traceable manner and with higher impact.
[0:50:46] Harry Duran: Very interesting. I'm sure I'll be following up with questions about that. So we are at the top of the hour. There's so much that's been covered here. I'm trying to figure out what some of the best things would be to ask but to share. But as we come to a close, I'm curious if there's a tough question you've had to ask yourself recently a tough question.
[0:51:12] Harry Duran: Yes.
[0:51:12] Emiliano Gutierrez: I mean, a couple.
[0:51:14] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:51:14] Emiliano Gutierrez: So I think we constantly discuss with the team where's our biggest impact.
[0:51:24] Harry Duran: Right?
[0:51:24] Emiliano Gutierrez: So of course we all want to save the world. We want to do what's best. One of it was like, okay, are we making a difference on the carbon side of things and answering very strongly, we saw that it wasn't the main thing.
[0:51:43] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:51:44] Emiliano Gutierrez: The main thing is people on water. So how do we hone in on that? Right. And being like, very aggressive in a way or sincere in terms of what we want to build and where our impact lies.
[0:51:59] Harry Duran: Right.
[0:51:59] Emiliano Gutierrez: So that's also coming back to the why. So always trying to come back to the why and articulate it with what we're building. So, yes, in terms of that is re asking the why and our purpose as a company. So, yeah, that's something that we've been reframing and we aim to build a greener food system, healthier communities, and just allow people to have a healthy life both in urban spaces, cities, but also communities in need. So that's something where we're going and that's something that we keep asking ourselves. Just not to be fooled by ourselves or just not to be lost in the woods. Right, but to see the whole picture. I think that's an important questions that we should ask ourselves often.
[0:53:00] Harry Duran: Yeah, every day.
[0:53:03] Emiliano Gutierrez: True.
[0:53:04] Harry Duran: So given the audience of the show, lots of your peers, folks in the industry, folks curious about entering the space, looking for new opportunities, space. I've been leaving room at the end of each conversation for you. If you have a specific ask, if you have a specific message, anything you want to say to people working in this industry, what would that be?
[0:53:29] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah, I would say let's keep on building and growing. I think what we do is very noble as an industry. It's been, I would say, a tough last couple of months as an inch as a whole. But it really just shows us that we need to focus on the critical and focus on what really matters and the value that we can bring to the table. So, yeah, I would just encourage us just to keep going. In terms of an ask mentioned before, if there's any investor that resonates with our mission and what we're building, we'd love to connect and in general for future partners, et cetera. Like, we're very open as a company, as a startup. So always looking for new technology to integrate, for new partners, for new distribution channels, et cetera. And I'm always happy to help them in whatever way possible, just living that they're open.
[0:54:27] Harry Duran: Well, I'm really happy we connected and reached out, or I reached out. I'm not sure how these conversations sometimes start, but I think maybe on LinkedIn. But I'm really happy. It's so hard to keep up with everything that's happening. I keep saying here that when I started the show, I thought a couple of seasons, I'll speak to everyone in the industry and it'll be fine, but I'm just amazed by so much that's happening in the space. I'm excited. I don't know if you're planning any of the conferences coming up this year, indoor farming conferences. Maybe we'll have a chance to connect there as well.
[0:54:59] Emiliano Gutierrez: There's more and more, but, yeah, let's keep in touch about that. Definitely looking forward to attend a couple. So, yes, I'm glad you say that. There's an increasing amount of people and of agents, and I think there's a lot of room for growth. And thank you. Thank you. Because you've been an inspiration as well, since the beginning. So, yeah, great to be here and thanks for everything.
[0:55:25] Harry Duran: So Raise Farm raiz.com is the website. We'll be sure to include that in any of the other socials we'll put those in the show notes. You don't have to worry about trying to write that down during this conversation. Anywhere else you want to send folks to connect with you or the company?
[0:55:40] Emiliano Gutierrez: Yeah, I would say Twitter for those web.
[0:55:44] Harry Duran: Three.
[0:55:44] Emiliano Gutierrez: Curious refi. Curious. LinkedIn. More on the commercial side of things. The website there, of course, the Instagram. Happy to share my contact to whoever is interested.
[0:55:57] Harry Duran: Okay, thanks. I appreciate your time.
[0:56:01] Emiliano Gutierrez: Appreciate it. Take care. Thanks, bye.