Agriculture startups from granola to cannabis

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In 2014 Rochester hosted a visit from Victor Hwang, a venture capitalist and author of “The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley.”  In an insightful keynote speech to Rochester entrepreneurs, Hwang stated that highly-innovative communities make sure “to celebrate role models and peer interaction.”  

The goal behind promoting role models and peers in the startup community is not about serving as a cheerleader.  Rather, “you want to get these stories out because they become inspirational to others – they give people a sense of permission to do things that might otherwise feel forbidden,” Hwang explained.

RocGrowth Candids is one of the local efforts that highlights the journeys of entrepreneurs. I volunteer as one of the rotating group of interviewers.  This month we featured two startups in the agriculture space. The guests were:

  • Michele Liddle, founder of The Perfect Granola, who started the company in her kitchen in 2016 and now sells her products in Wegmans, Walmart, Tops and other stores; and
  • Zach Sarkis, cofounder of Flower City Solutions, whose startup is focused on enabling a growing local industry in hemp and cannabis production.

What are the challenges faced by agriculture startups in our area?  What support systems and advantages does our region provide?  What lessons can other entrepreneurs learn from Michele and Zach?

Their answers are available in the video below.   

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