Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alberto Aguilar, Co-Founder and CEO of Plantaform, located in Gatineau, QC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Plantaform is an AgTech startup based in the capital region of Canada, developing smart indoor gardens and vertical farms. The Rejuvenate indoor garden empowers households to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers year-round with the click of a button. Inspired by Nespresso, simply add our plant pods, fill the Rejuvenate with water, and watch your plants grow! We designed the system with functionality and elegance in mind, so it can seamlessly fit into any interior design and only requires a water refill every three weeks. We have a wide variety of clients, from households to businesses, who are looking to integrate more nature, sustainability, and design into their lives.
Tell us about yourself
I immigrated to Canada for my studies in 2014 from Spain and co-founded two startups before Plantaform through my university years. Food sustainability has always been part of my core values, and being able to contribute to this cause has been a dream of mine. With Covid-19 shutting down the world, it gave me an opportunity to allocate all of my time to create a solution to this cause, which led to the founding of Plantaform.
Three years later, we have created the world's first smart indoor garden using Fogponics Technology and an irrigation method that uses 98% less water than traditional farming and grows plants using fog. Having successfully developed this technology and having a clear roadmap on how it can positively impact the world and contribute to food sustainability is what gets me up every day. Plantaform has become my and our team's mission to impact households and communities through our indoor gardens and now the development of vertical farms, to leave the largest footprint to overcome food insecurity.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My team is the biggest accomplishment I have achieved until today. Being able to attract the right talent, ambition, and shared vision of a sustainable future has been the sole reason behind the success of the development of our technology and products. Being able to support the families of our employees and empower them with the resources to grow into leadership roles and make an impact in the development of Plantaform is by far one of my biggest feelings of pride.
Coming from a small city in Canada, the odds of creating such an ambitious project during a pandemic were slim, but the resilience of the team has made the impossible possible. The support from the local community of investors has given us the ability to take off and achieve the milestones in our roadmap, and now, we are able to put our small city on the map.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
As the CEO, you rarely spend your time celebrating achievements. Instead, your day-to-day focus is allocated to internal problems, which can have an infinite range. Being conscious that the future of the company, the employees, and the investors' capital is in your hands adds an unmeasurable amount of stress on your shoulders, and the only way to overcome it is by constantly learning about the industry, being aware of every moving component (both internal and external), and being able to see far enough to plan on how to overcome the next challenge whilst staying on the roadmap.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find the right partners who complement the skillsets that you lack and that can provide value throughout the different stages of the growth of your company. Experience and skillsets are always seen as the fundamentals of finding the right people, but in a startup environment, resilience, commitment, and coachability can make a bigger impact on the success of your business.
- Surround yourself with the right people. This could be advisors, other entrepreneurs/business owners who are/have operated a similar business, or an incubator who can guide you. With this, comes coachability, since you will need to have an open mind to learn from other people's wins and failures.
- If you're going to start a business, you must give your 100%. It is always harder than it seems, and the journey will never be as smooth as it seems from an outside perspective. Be ready to fail many times, but as long as you're giving your 100%, success will eventually come. It is only from failures that you can understand the roadmap to success.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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