You don’t need a green thumb and a big backyard to grow baskets of fresh produce. In fact, according to Chicago-based Rise Gardens, you probably just need a bookshelf’s worth of space in your living room and an app.
Rise Gardens, an indoor hydroponic gardening system, has raised $2.6 million in seed funding for home-grown produce. The financing was led by True Ventures .
Rise Gardens sells a hardware and software indoor planting system. Customers receive a home garden kit and can assemble the system, which looks like a piece of furniture, in 45 minutes. Then, users can input Rise-provided plant pods in each row of the system to grow produce of their choice, from butter lettuce to tomatoes and arugula. The “garden” comes in three sizes, which Rise Gardens details as “matching the dimensions of an entryway table, a credenza and a shelf.”
Rise can offer this flexible solution thanks to hydroponics, a scientific method that grows plants using nutrients and water, rather than soil and sunlight. The planting system includes specific features to optimize growth. For example, Rise provides a meter for users to check the pH of the water.
From a software perspective, Rise has an app that tracks how often a user should water their plants. It also sells a subscription-based offering that brings new “seed pods” and nutrients to customers on a monthly basis.
While the system is intentionally designed to resemble furniture one would already have in the home, according to founder Hank Adams, it has a use beyond aesthetics.
The company uses vertical farming to produce food all on a vertical plane, and created a system that is both self-sustainable and flexible. In Rise’s case, it means that the user can grow root vegetables on one shelf, tomatoes and lettuce on the other.
Looking at Rise’s venture-backed competition, the concept of vertical farming isn’t new. It helps people bring more produce to fruition while staying conservative on space, because it builds up instead of out. Plus, the indoor system lets you grow year-round, instead of relying on Mother Nature.
Infarm closed a $100 million Series B in June for vertical farming tech targeted toward restaurants and grocery stores. Plenty has raised hundreds of millions for indoor farming technology. Other companies that have their eyes on indoor farming systems are AeroFarms, BrightFarms, Bowery Farming and Freight Farms.
But from a consumer angle, which is where Rise is coming from, the competition isn’t as fierce, claims founder Adams. He says that most solutions that exist in the market right now for consumers stick to growing a few herbs.
Avalow, for example, has built a self-watering, sub-irrigation-based and raised planter bed to help consumers grow herbs from the comfort of their homes.
Adams says that Rise wants to be a more wholesome solution.
“Our system was built to grow a lot of volume of food,” he said. “We didn’t want to grow something that was an overtly and purely visual interest.” He claims that Rise can grow a head of lettuce in 22 to 25 days.
Since shelter-in-place orders began, Adams claims that sales have increased 750% and Rise has sold 6,000 seeds per week in the last two months, which represents more than 1,500 pounds of produce. But he says this uptick in usage isn’t due to people avoiding the grocery stores, necessarily.
“We’re not telling you that you never have to go to a grocery store again after your system is a month old,” he said. “You will, but it does have an impact” on the total amount of groceries you buy.
So Rise is selling to someone who wants to supplement their food intake, not replace it with their own indoor farming setup. The hardware itself is more luxury than modest: Rise Gardens starts selling at $550. Adams claims that the system will pay for itself (in produce) after 16 months of usage.
So while an indoor farming system might not yet be a casual household appliance found next to the toaster, Adams finds hope for his currently luxurious company by peering at the past.
“In the past century there was a lack of appliances that felt like luxuries at the time, like dishwashers,” he said. “But now you can’t imagine living without a dishwasher or washing machine.”
A hopeful side effect of this pandemic is that nutrition will be more of a conversation, and priority, in all of our lives. With new cash, Rise Gardens is betting that that conversation around food sourcing will turn into action.
OurPeople, the team communication and engagement platform, raises $2M
OurPeople, the U.K. startup that’s built a team communication and engagement platform for desk-less workers, has raised $2 million in Series A funding.
Leading the round is Alpine Meridian, an investment firm that specialises in digital media, e-commerce and healthcare, and entrepreneur Robert Neveu, who also joins OurPeople as managing partner. It brings total funding to $3 million.
Founded in 2016 by Ross McCaw, Bristol-based OurPeople offers a secure mobile platform to let businesses communicate digitally with employees, ensuring teams can stay connected. The startup primarily works in industries with large numbers of desk-less workers, such as fitness and leisure. Clients currently include West Ham United Foundation, Virgin Active UK, Paulton’s Park and Serco Leisure.
McCaw — who used to be a part-time lifeguard and swim teacher — previously founded CoursePro to improve the way swim lessons were administered in the U.K. and other countries. At the time the company was fully acquired by Jonas Software in 2014, over a million swimmers had enrolled. After the success of CoursePro, he spotted another opportunity and launched OurPeople.
“I saw first-hand how companies struggled to communicate with their employees,” says McCaw. “Specifically their remote, desk-less team members who, more often than not, do not have access to a company email but who are the people with the most direct exposure to their customers”.
What really stood out was how many of the trainers were not engaging with company news and announcements. “This was bad for both the company and them. I looked at a number of other sectors and saw that this was a wider issue amongst many industries with high numbers of desk-less workers”.
McCaw describes the OurPeople solution as a “highly-sophisticated yet simple to use” messaging service that ensures the right people in an organisation receive the information they need when they need it. He reckons it’s this targeted nature and being mobile-first that sets the communication platform apart from competitors.
“Generally our competitors come in one of two categories: the workplace social network or the consumer-style workplace chat groups. Both, in our opinion, create too much noise and chatter. They are not targeted enough,” says McCaw.
“Employees want to see content that is relevant to them and incredibly quick to read or watch. The employer, on the other hand, wants to know that the communication has been seen and acknowledged. To achieve this we have a ‘tagging’ system so that only the people that absolutely need to see that message receive it”.
Furthermore, the OurPeople founder says the platform is different because the startup is not attempting to create a workplace social network “where vital information can get lost in all the typical noise”.
“OurPeople is about crucial, relevant information at the right time that engages those hard to reach employees and won’t slow them down as they carry out their customer-facing duties. We make internal communications, especially with remote and desk-less colleagues, effective and efficient”.
Dr. Fauci in March: ‘There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.’ So, what changed? (video)
In recent weeks, there’s a nationwide campaign in the United States for everyone to wear masks or face coverings in public places. Even though there’s no conclusive scientific evidence that masks or face coverings provide perfect protection against coronavirus, there are many reports of mask bullying in grocery stores across the country.
During a 60 Minutes interview back in March, Dr. Anthony said, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” The nation’s top infectious-disease expert added that mask “is not providing the perfect protection that people think it is.”
In an interview with “60 Minutes” on March 8, Anthony Fauci said:
“The masks are important for someone who’s infected to prevent them from infecting someone else. Now, when you see people and look at the films in China, South Korea or whatever everybody is wearing a mask. Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks. There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people ‘feel a little better’ and it might even block a droplet but it’s not providing the perfect protection the people think that it is. And often, there are unintended consequences. People keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”
Dr. Fauci continued:
“When you think masks you should think of health care providers needing them, and people who are ill. I’m not against it, if you want to do it. It can lead to a shortage for people who really need it.”
That all changed on April 13 after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that, wearing masks or face coverings in public is actually good to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. CDC added that wearing masks also allows you to go out without anxiety of anyone coming within six feet of you. As we all know, one of the jobs of our public health officials is to advise and guide the nation on public health issues like coronvirus.
CDC said the following:
“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published. “The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.”
So, why did they mislead us? Last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted for the first time that “public health officials misled the public about the effectiveness of masks” to ensure the availability of masks for healthcare workers. Dr. Fauci said the people in health community were concerned and worried about mask shortages for health professionals.
You can watch the video of his interview below.
20 million Americans have had coronavirus, new estimate from CDC studies of blood samples collected nationwide shows
As many as 20 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus, according to new estimate based on CDC studies of blood samples collected nationwide. If true, this further revelation shows that the reaction to this pandemic was exaggerated from the beginning. Considering that that only about one third of the supposed 120,000 deaths from deadly coronavirus, it is possible that the country has developed herd immunity, which occurs when a high percentage of the population is immune to a disease either through prior infection or vaccination.
The studies also show that the number of people infected is 10 times as many infections as the 2.3 million confirmed cases. It also shows that millions of Americans are asymptomatic and never knew it. The number could also mean that about 6% of the country’s 331 million people have been infected, leaving a majority of the population still susceptible to the virus.
Some of the blood samples were collected by the CDC and others from blood donations and other sources. According to CDC, many infections were not caught in early testing due to limited availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), which at the time, were limited and federal officials prioritized testing for those with symptoms.
Last month, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said that as many as 25% of infected people might not have symptoms.
“It’s clear that many individuals in this nation are still susceptible,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on a call with reporters Thursday. “Our best estimate right now is that for every case that was reported, there actually are 10 more infections.”
The U.S. is now recording 40,000 new cases per day, surpassing previous records set in April when New York was the epicenter of the outbreak. However, Dr. Fauci warned members of Congress that the United State could reach 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day if the country does not get a handle on the pandemic.
Dr. Thomas Tsai, a Harvard University health policy researcher, said 20 million seems reasonable, but “most of these estimates exist in a range” and it’s important to know how wide that is, according to a report from AP News.
“It’s hard to interpret this just from a single number and without the context for it,” such as what locations were sampled and whether it was truly a random slice of a population or areas of low or high prevalence, which can skew the results.
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