South West Disrupters – Our chat with LettUs Grow
Here at ADLIB, we are catching up with a range of South West Disrupter businesses – those that are currently “causing waves” within their sector.
ADLIB: For some background information, who are LettUs Grow and what makes your business offering unique?
We are a Bristol-based start-up designing innovative irrigation and farm management systems for greenhouses and indoor farms.
Our technology is based on the soil-free methodology of aeroponics, where nutrients and water are delivered to plant roots as a mist. Not only does this allow greater oxygenation of the roots, delivering better flavour and faster growth, but it also uses up to 95% less water than traditional agriculture.
Plants are grown within our aeroponic grow beds and all data gets uploaded to the Ostara software platform, which reduces unnecessary labour and optimises conditions for each individual plant species within the farm.
ADLIB: Can you share the story behind the core origin of your product?
Our mission is to reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce, by empowering anyone to grow delicious food anywhere in the world – from deserts to disaster sites.
LettUs Grow was founded in 2015, to tackle some of the biggest problems facing humanity – global warming and food security. One-third of carbon emissions can be traced to food production. Because of an increasing population, emissions are increasing and farmland is increasingly becoming scarce. We’re expected to need to feed another 2 billion mouths by 2050, whilst 24bn tonnes of fertile soil is being lost a year through intensive farming. As productive land decreases, we must look for alternative ways to feed the growing population without soil.
We have demonstrated significant yield increases and a reduction in resource consumption using our aeroponic technology, and are now building commercial aeroponic systems for growers around the UK. Our technology delivers a step-change in efficiency within this fast-growing global market, predicted to be worth over $13bn by 2024.
ADLIB: Speaking of people, can you share some challenges you have faced, are facing or are anticipating around up-scaling the team? And are there any top tips you could share with those faced with the same issues?
It’s always challenging growing quickly, as you find that your old processes (or lack of) are suddenly inadequate or inefficient, and your office dynamic has suddenly changed. We’ve been fortunate that our employees have joined in a steady, staggered fashion, which has allowed us to build a strong, collaborative team spirit. Investing in systems before they feel the strain has also meant that everyday productivity hasn’t suffered from increased employee numbers.
I expect these challenges to continue as we scale, if not multiply! As a founder, delegation is always an interesting but satisfying part of the process, and we’re now looking to increasingly recruit specialists to take responsibility for a wider range of business functions.
ADLIB: Is there one piece of wisdom you could share with those that are part of a “Disrupter” Business? As a founder and/or as an employee?
Investing your time in early recruitment processes is hugely valuable. You’ll be spending a lot of time (probably in a small office) with your early recruits, so time taken making sure you build a talented team that gels together is very well spent! We ensured that soft skills and alignment with company vision were accounted for in all our scoring matrices, which resulted in us interviewing some really well-rounded applicants.
ADLIB: And finally, what’s in the pipeline for LettUsGrow? What’s on the horizon?
Currently, we’re deploying farms with a number of innovative farmers in the UK. We’re looking to roll our offering out to the rest of Europe in 2019 and then to build partnerships internationally.
It’s a really exciting time for us, we’ve been leaping from one achievement to another – we were runners-up in a global sustainability award and have been featured on BBC news. The team has grown from the just the three founders to 13 members of staff in the past year. You can really feel the energy building for the next big jump…
Thanks Jack for sharing!