Just Vertical – 1 September

01 Sep 2020
 

Just Vertical

Just Vertical is an indoor vertical hydroponic company that creates furniture that feeds you. They are a premier vertical growing and vertical farming systems provider for residential and small scale commercial urban farmers in Canada. They have created the AEVA, a modern indoor hydroponic garden system that can grow up to 10 pounds of produce per month using less water, no pesticides, and provides money-saving benefits to the user. Their system allows customers to bring fresh and nutritious foods to their homes, all while be sustainably viable by eliminating food waste and being 95-99% more energy and water-efficient. Primary customers are urban residential users as well as schools, restaurants, offices, and commercial/public buildings. 

Aerogarden and Click and Grow are the main competitors in the indoor growing market- mainly white plastic countertop model units. Plant science and the design of Just Vertical’s system is the key differentiation. Just Vertical offers a wide range of options, notably, they allow users to grow plants and food that are not readily available in typical grocery stores or markets. In design, Just Vertical is the first vertical growing company to fully integrate elements of design and science into a single product that is an art piece. 

One of the most significant existing challenges for indoor growing companies is customer retention and success beyond the sale of the hardware. Most indoor growing companies operate from an engineering point of view with a sole focus on the efficiency of their hardware. This failure to take a customer-centric view has led to the development of systems that work great for an expert user or ‘green-thumb’ but usually, fail for an average user. The lack of proper plant science behind these products is evident in the way that they push one size fits all nutrient solutions which doesn’t take into account the differentiated needs per plant. Just Vertical also has offered seasonal variations to keep users engaged and provided specialty packages to restaurants to allow them to grow their own ‘proprietary’ salads. Just Vertical created and patented their irrigation columns with an integrated pod system that is fully transferable and translatable to any size and space (residential or commercial). It can be utilized in container farms, warehouses, greenhouses on a vertical or horizontal growing plane. These points of differentiation are what elevates Just Vertical’s system above competitors.

 

Traction

Just Vertical has just finished the ideation, creation, design, and build of their newest product, The EVE, which is the mini version of their flagship product (The AEVA). It is half the width, about 20% shorter, and 15% slimmer. They have just launched the EVE via a pre-sale online and completed the Just Vertical app, which helps growers optimize their growing practices. They also do more than just residential farming/create residential products. They offer a suite of consulting services and commercial-scale farms customized to their customers’ needs. Using their patented technology, they can grow in 100sq feet to 5000+ sq feet. Still in their start-up growth phase, Just Vertical is currently in the process of executing some major marketing pushes in the US. They have been fortunate to be featured on a variety of commercials including a show called Behind the Scenes with Laurence Fishburne via PBS. The commercial will be shown in prime time to the 300 largest cities by population, throughout the year, in the US.

Just Vertical’s biggest hurdle to overcome is raising a Series A financing round and increasing production capacity and capability to meet increasing demand. Through guidance and advice from their mentors and advisors, Just Vertical is confident in their support to navigate these struggles. They are looking to raise smart money by partnering with investors that can not only help them financially but with experience and strategic goal, vision, and mission alignment. 

Traditional agriculture is in dire need of disruption, the current solutions on the market are not cutting it for consumers. If we want to build sustainable food systems in cities it requires something that customers are willing and want to adopt. Just Vertical is providing that. As young, purpose-driven, social entrepreneurs this is about more than building a business for them. This is a passion project aimed at creating social change. At the end of the day, Just Vertical is most proud of the impact that they have managed to create today. If they didn’t sell another system or grow another plant, they are happy to say they’ve already saved over 2 million liters of water, grown over 10,000 pounds of fresh local food, and eliminated over 100 million miles of food transport. Together, they hope to build on these numbers and create the necessary impact for a growing world.

 

Team

Kevin Jakiela, Co-founder, and President

Conner Tidd, Co-founder, and CEO

Conner was working in stakeholder management for Bayer CropScience when the deal to buy Monsanto was announced. Kevin had just come back from pioneering indoor growing research in the Canadian Arctic, as well as teaching indigenous youth in remote arctic communities, and saw firsthand how cutting-edge plant science and hardware could be used to grow in any environment. Banded together with a mission to save the planet and provide a sustainable solution to the growing food insecurity faced today, they created Just Vertical. 

 
 

Funding

Just Vertical is an impact-driven sustainability company. Their mission is derived from a triple bottom line approach, where the cornerstones of sustainability: economic benefit, social benefit, and environmental benefit, are entrenched into daily decision-making habits and long-term planning goals. With the initiative to disrupt current, traditional agricultural practices, and introduce a sustainable solution, they plan to raise $2M to support this vision. Succeed fundings will be allocated towards expanded growth in the US along with other developmental sectors including marketing and sales growth, increased production capacity in their manufacturing facility, and increased product lines/product offerings. 

In the past, they have raised an angel and seed round of investment funding (a mixture of equity and debt) and are now looking to raise a Series A round of financing with strategic investors, for full-scale growth across North America. 

In joint with operational expansion, they also plan to hire manufacturing and sales departments for the business as they proceed towards their growth initiatives. 

 

Revenue Model

Just Vertical’s business model works through one-time hardware sales of their grow units (The AEVA and The EVE) as well as through their recurring revenue streams. Here, they provide the seeds and nutrients to their customers to keep them growing successfully on a monthly or term basis. This recurring revenue stream provides a sustainable base of revenue to build upon and to further their mission of bringing indoor sustainable growing to the world. They also have a mirror-B2B income stream for commercial farms whereby consulting and on-going support services are provided by Just Vertical. In addition, they offer all of the reloads needed for growing including seed pods and nutrients, as part of the customers’ subscription packages. This represents a one-off hardware sales stream of revenue and a subscription-based recurring revenue stream (all reloads of seed pods and nutrients). 

 

Details

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