Guest entrepreneur: Jack Farmer, LettusGrow
1 March 2018
Jack Farmer, co-founder of LettusGrow, recently visited the classroom to talk about his experiences starting up, pivoting the business model and planning for his first venture capital round.
The experiences of real entrepreneurs, especially those who are right in the midst of starting-up, are a vital part of a good entrepreneurial education programme; they locate what we are teaching into a real and evolving context, and that helps breathe life into the learning here at the Centre.
Earlier this month we welcomed Jack Farmer, who graduated from the University of Bristol in 2015 and went on to run Basecamp, the University's dedicated student start-up support programme, before going full-time on LettusGrow with two other Bristol graduates as the founding team.
LettusGrow design irrigation and control technology for vertical farms using a patent-pending aeroponic technique developed here in Bristol. They're currently going through the due diligence process for their first venture capital round after a significant pivot to their business model.
Jack gave our one-year Master's students a bit of history and insight into LettusGrow before being interviewed by staff and students in front of the class. Jack was able to give some insight into where their ideas had come from and how they had evolved. Given that our students are currently pivoting their own business ideas in response to customer feedback and research, it was great for them to hear how Jack and his co-founders had evolved their ideas over time.
Jack also shared his experience of using many of the tools we had been teaching in recent weeks: PESTLE, SWOT, Value Proposition Design, Business Model Canvas, and many more.
Finally, Jack wrapped up with several pieces of sage advice:
"It's very hard to do a good job part-time, you end up spending all that time on admin and not on useful development - so find a way to dedicate yourself to the venture once it starts to get going."
"Getting the right people is hard for a startup because you don't have much credibility; so networks and your company culture have to work harder to attract those good people."
"Transitioning from product development to actually selling the thing requires different skills; you'll need to reappraise your existing roles in the team and get a lot better organised!"
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