While there’s been much debate in the Nibletz office and surrounding areas over the past 72 hours on whether or not this idea counted as a “startup” it’s still a good idea and a good idea for Memphis Tennessee at that.
Emma Self, pitched her “Green Girl Produce” business idea on Friday evening at LaunchMemphis’ 48 Hour Launch. 48 Hour Launch is a weekend startup hackathon. The “startup vs SMB” debate was alive and well this weekend with everyone I talked to about this business.
The debate about “Startup vs SMB” in Self’s case has NOTHING to do with technology. There is another woman in Memphis who has come up with a new way to remove acrylic nails without the harsh abrasiveness and damage to the nails that traditional methods have caused. To me, the young lady with the nail solution is a startup. Green Girl is not.
While it’s become a growing trend in the last few years, there is NOTHING new about urban, vertical, hyrdoponic green houses. Hydroponic greenhouses have been sprouting up (you see what I did there) across the country and around the world for at least the last decade, possibly two. Heck, stories of people being busted growing illegal substances in green houses trace back to the early 90′s.
As I explained to Launch Memphis intern Andy Cowan, in my argument, if there were no hamburger restaurants in Memphis Tennessee, anywhere, and there were everywhere else across the world, I wouldn’t consider Memphis’ first hamburger restaurant a “startup” just a new business idea for Memphis.
Steve Blank describes the debate between “startup vs SMB” as SMB’s being lifestyle businesses and startup founders working to save the world.
I will tell you that I’m confident that Self is passionate about changing her corner of the world, Memphis TN, but still not sold on it being a startup.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at the business plan. It was a good business plan.
Self has obtained an abandoned liquor store in downtown Memphis (currently abandon business sites are abundant in downtown Memphis). There is approximately 1200 square feet of growing space in the liquor store. With a $200,000 investment Self will be able to make the necessary changes to the liquor store to accommodate her green house, and start her first cash crop.
The conversion will take about a month and after planting, she’ll be raising cash crops in two weeks, using LED technology. Self doesn’t have the $30,000 bill for the LED equipment though as she’s participating in a beta test with a new product.
In her market research Self found out that restaurants, and even the local vegetable distributors are paying upwards of $100 a pound for micro-greens.
Micro-greens are greens that chef’s are using to “make dishes pop” as garnish and extra flavoring. According to a local Chef we talked to on Sunday night, micro-greens give dishes a lot more flavor and pizaaz than say parsley but even his establishment stopped using them because of the cost.
Self can get that cost down to under $40 per pound and still produce $1 million dollars in revenue with that one location.
The community picked Green Girl Produce on Friday as one of three companies to build out over 48 Hour Launch. Self was able to connect with valuable resources in the community members that helped her with her plans.
archer>malmo, the south east PR/advertising giant was on hand all weekend. In fact a team of 6 stayed throughout to help with logos and concepts. The archer>malmo team was especially helpful to Self. They developed her logo, branding, and helped her visualize the supply chain.
Did Self do a great job this weekend. Yes! Did she utilize the resources to her and take advantage of the weekend concept Yes! Is Green Girl Produce a “startup”… Call me a “startup snob” but I don’t think so.
Check out her Sunday pitch video below. Now keep in mind that Emma is not one of those startup junkies who’s seen a hundred pitches. I think she did a heck of a job in front of the audience but she is definitely a bit nervous.