This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.
Founder: Jacques Marais ’20
DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?
Sow Co aspires to help you satisfy your human need to be involved in the process of growing and enjoying food while appreciating the warmth and personality of a bountiful, hanging, in home veggie garden.
DC: How did you first come up with your idea?
Jordan was my manager at the architecture firm I worked at and we spent a lunch break talking about how selling microgreens to high end restaurants was trending. We found that microgreens are practically the highest-grossing legal green in America, $25-$100 per pound depending on location, which is odd considering how little effort it takes to grow them. Jordan and I imagined an automated process that grew a couple pounds of microgreens a week that we could sell to high end restaurants.
We started prototyping, and our idea started to gain traction. Once we had developed a basic model, we realised the prototype could have a higher impact than selling the vegetables it grew. We spoke to a couple friends and they loved the idea so we started to develop the business.
DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?
Many many many prototypes which have helped us have great conversations with potential customers. We also received seed funding from F3 tech, an esteemed accelerator fund focused on leading economic growth and prosperity through innovation and technology in agriculture. The Dingman Center accepted us into Terp Startup to help us rapidly progress our business; their support is paramount towards our success.
DC: What drives you to keep going?
My grandmother was very entrepreneurial growing up; she ran a large home plant nursery and a daycare all through my mom’s childhood and my own. In her day, women were expected to stay at home. That didn’t stop her from being a successful businesswoman. I am lucky to share some of her DNA.
I also watched my mother work two jobs and make many sacrifices to do well. I’m lucky to have her work ethic imprinted into my subconscious.
The other thing that drives me is the working prototype located behind my working desk. Every time I slap together a dinner made mostly from the veggies I grew, I feel proud. I close my eyes and imagine millions of people being able to feel the same way and then when I open them, I feel a rush of excitement to make it happen.
DC: How do you feel about working in a cohort with fellow student entrepreneurs?
I’m impressed by their tenacity. Throughout college, I’ve looked for creative, driven, and respectable individuals to call my friends. I found many during Dingman Fridays, the AgEnterprise competition, my architecture friends, and Startup Shell. Terp Startup has done the work for me by collecting together a group of individuals, precisely of the caliber I aspire to be, and I hope to earn their friendship by the end of the eight weeks.
DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup this summer?
Find mentors, build partnerships, get ready to go to market, and learn to juggle. Learning to juggle is an essential part of the Terp Startup morning roll call and should be taken incredibly seriously!