Rob and Nate met at Columbia University in New York City in early 2016. Nate was trying to find an 'in' into the Engineering school in search of a bright engineer to partner with on a food business he was eager to start, when he came across an event being hosted by the Earth Institute.
Not knowing quite what to expect from an 'Earth Institute' event but wanting to make a good impression, Nate donned his favorite tie dye button-down, packed a kale smoothy and carrot sticks and headed off (ok, we may have made that bit up). The highlight of the event by far was a presentation on 'Next Generation Green Infrastructure' by a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow named Rob Elliott (yes, that's THE Rob). The guy clearly knew a thing or two about growing plants.
A couple of weeks later Rob and Nate met at Nous cafe in the Philosophy building, where they bonded over a mutual love of coffee, interest in urban agriculture and belief that there existed a smarter way of designing our food systems. The concept sketches began, and brain storming meetings continued in the weeks and months that followed.
By the end of spring Nate and Rob figured they might be onto something with this urban agriculture idea, and decided to form a company called Ernt (a derivation of 'ernte', which means harvest in German). Although 'Ernt' is a kinda funny sounding name, they liked the idea of using an abstract word so that when the inevitable 'pivot' occurred and they decided to build a dating app for German lumberjacks they wouldn't need to change their name. Just kidding. Sort of.
Eager to move their idea forward, they applied and were accepted into the Summer Startup Track being run by the Business School's Lang Center for Entrepreneurship over the summer. The Summer Startup Track was a great opportunity to connect with a bunch of experienced people in the rapidly growing NYC start-up scene. Nate and Rob spent most of the summer doing a ton of research on the customer, the market, and the science of hydroponics and urban agriculture.
As summer draws to an end, and the bounty of fresh produce in NY starts to wind down, the guys are busy planning ways to grow food throughout the winter. They're currently prototyping a few different designs as they figure out how to make the most awesome product possible.
Thanks heaps for your support thus far, and perhaps being the only person in the world to (nearly) finish reading this blog. It gives us warm fuzzies. We're looking forward to turning our dreams into a reality. If you'd like to receive an email from us every few weeks please sign up to our mailing list. Don't worry, we aren't gonna spam you (not yet anyway, that might change once we actually have something to sell!). Otherwise you can follow us on Social Media with the buttons below.