- Daniel Kuenzi, 28; Eric Ellestad, 28; Matthew Vail, 27; Jake Porter, 22
Local Roots designs, manufactures, and operates indoor farms that seek to grow organic produce year-round in an efficient manner. The student founders, who are focused on ecofriendly growing practices, have turned 40-foot shipping containers into scalable indoor farming systems. Using robotics, microbiology, and big data analytics, Local Roots says its containers have achieved higher production densities--up to 300 times higher per square foot--than conventional farms. The startup’s produce is grown without pesticides or herbicides and the containers use less water than traditional methods. A second version of the company’s farms, capable of growing the equivalent of five acres of outdoor produce, will launch this month. Local Roots is dedicated to providing affordable and sustainable produce while inspiring healthy lifestyles.
Local Roots has attracted over $1 million in seed funding from investors in the food service, commercial real estate, and traditional farming sectors. It currently sells its indoor-farm produce to TenderGreens, a fast-casual restaurant chain in Southern California, and also direct to consumers. It has set up pilot programs with other restaurants, retailers, and wholesalers, and eventually plans to work with national distributors.