#5 Lauren Rathmell: Co-Founder Lufa Farms

Lufa Farms began in Montreal, Quebec and now has offices in Boston as well. Their vision is a city of rooftop farms. They are trying to figure out how to grow food where people live and grow it more sustainably. Today, fifty percent of people live in cities. Lauren Rathmell is the Greenhouse Director and Co-Founder of Lufa Farms. Lufafarms.com/en

What are you creating? 

A local food engine, comprised of a platform and technologies for rooftop farming and direct-to-consumer distribution of fresh, local vegetables and goods from other farms and food makers 

How do you want to change the world? 

Grow food closer to where people live and grow it more sustainably, in an effective and scalable platform. We want to reconnect individuals with the people who make their food. 

What makes you think you’re onto something? 

There's an inherent problem with our current food production and distribution systems; lack of transparency and traceability, safety concerns, sustainability issues, and global food security are all becoming increasingly critical. There are many ways this needs to and can be addressed, but high-yield and responsible urban agriculture is certainly a component. Most of all, the impact we've had in Montreal makes us think we're definitely on to something. We've made it to over 5000 weekly subscribers, largely through word of mouth, and have gotten really amazing feedback so far.

How do you push through when things get tough? 

Make sure I have time to disconnect. Work hard but take breaks and separate from things for a while to re-boot. Encourage the team to do the same.

What quality do you most like in a startup? 

Leanness. It's always impressive when a company sticks with a small team that works hard and strives for efficiency while forging ahead, no matter the industry.

What quality do you most despise in a startup? 

Fluff and inefficiency: there's no need to grow a team and spend loads if you can't maximize capacity. Most people and many industries don't operate in a way that considers efficiencies.

What talent would you like to have? 

Plant whisperer. (I'm working on it...) 

If your startup/work were a movie which would it be? 

Ocean's Eleven. Whenever we undertake new projects, we always pull together a crack team of engineers, software developers, plant scientists, marketers, and team leaders to pull it off in a daring way.