How can we reduce the climate impacts of our food system? How can we get the freshest produce to people in urban areas? How can we offer fulfilling jobs to today’s youth? These are all issues that Square Roots is working to address.
“The mission of the company is to bring locally grown food to people in cities, all across the world while empowering the next generation of leaders in urban agriculture,” Tobias Peggs, Cofounder and CEO of Square Roots, tells. The agriculture startup’s modular and technology-first design is transforming how food is grown and distributed in amazing ways. The scalability and data-driven approach make Square Roots an excellent example of a company demonstrating how to scale business growth and impact.
The insights Peggs was having during his previous job at Walmart, lit a spark in his entrepreneurial engine. “People want food from all over the world. That's not going to change,” he says. “Instead of shipping food, how about we ship environmental data from one part of the world to the other?” By collecting data on the best growing conditions, Tobias could hypothetically grow anything at any time of year in a controlled indoor environment made from repurposed shipping containers and deliver that to a nearby retail store on the day it’s picked. “It looks and smells amazing, which also means all the nutrients are intact,” he says. “That was the idea behind Square Roots.”
Peggs co-founded the company with Kimbal Musk, “He would say, ‘Can it feed the world? And are we going to make a massive positive impact? If so, let's figure out how to get this done,’” Peggs recalls. The two innovators began by working together in a WeWork office. “With the experience of being involved in a number of startup companies before—some successful, some failure—I know for sure that if you don't get started, you're going to fail.”
In the two-man brainstorming sessions, Peggs and Musk would visualize the business at scale. “We saw these modular farms in every city across the world. That is the way that we're able to think about feeding every consumer on the planet with locally grown food,” Peggs says. “There was a missing piece of the puzzle. There wouldn't be enough farmers to hire to staff all of those farms.” That realization was the foundation of the second pillar of Square Roots’ purpose, “To provide pathways for young people to come into the farming industry and become the future leaders,” he shares.
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