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Eric Levesque, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Cultivatd – Interview Series

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Eric Levesque, is Co-Founder and Manager Partner at Cultivatd, a company with a dedicated team of indoor farming experts that combine knowledge of product development, indoor farming operations and AgTech.

Can you share the genesis story behind Cultivatd?

My business partner and I had identified a few issues with the industry through our previous companies in the space – most notably the difficulties that lay with educating yourself on what the right technology for your project might be in an industry that is so new and how to train new farmers who usually have no experience with indoor growing. We decided to flip the model on it's head by partnering with 50 or so of the industry's best technology providers in order to be able to offer a solution based on the clients needs and goals regardless of what they want to accomplish.

Why is vertical farming an option that should be considered for grow ops?

With outdoor farming crops experiencing more and more difficulties and uncertainties, it has become increasingly more important to grow indoors to ensure the quantity and quality of product. Cannabis is no stranger to this. We work to constantly improve and innovate with new strains. The indoor environment provides absolute certainty – perfect amounts of water, lighting and nutrient levels to ensure the plant grows to it's optimal targets.

What are some of the biggest barriers to entry in the indoor agriculture space?

As stated, although the industry is growing a mile a minute, everything is still relatively new and it can be quite cumbersome to find the right technology partner for you. Cultivatd's services match your project with the right solution, saving you time and money.

Cultivatd offers several solutions including Farming As A Service (FAAS). Could you share some details on what specifically is FAAS?

Our FaaS platform allows for a few different levels of farm operation. We offer shorter knowledge transfer packages where we can send a master farmer to your location in order to properly educate whoever will be operating your farm in the future all the way to multi year contracts where will operate your farm head to toe with multiple staff members on site who handle everything from the hiring and oversight of the farm and employees.

How does Cultivatd assist companies with funding?

Cultivatd will be announcing a capital fund (Cultivatd Capital) formally in the coming weeks. This fund will have a minimum subscription amount of 50 million with a target of 100 million that we believe will be capable of oversubscribing substantially. This fund will serve our growing list of projects by offering equity financing and tying everything together – Helping to choose the right technology partner, partially funding projects for equity partnerships and helping to operate farms on the back end through our FaaS platform.

Could you discuss some of the sustainability benefits that are seen from growing cannabis indoors?

For the most part, we are capable of utilizing a tiny fraction of the water that would be used in a commercial outdoor operation to achieve the same results indoors. As water scarcity becomes more prevalent in new parts of the world, indoor farming as a whole will become more and more important to address issues such as this one.

What are some of the cost savings that can be seen?

Often times, people looking to enter the industry are accidentally pigeonholed into purchasing a technology that is not optimal for them due to the complexity of wading through countless articles and companies that can be found online. This is a detriment of a new industry which Cultivatd helps to address by lending expert advice to alleviate this problem and to ensure that customers have the absolute best chance at success their first time around without the expensive costs that are often incurred when attempting to pivot some of the equipment you have purchased initially.

What are some of the challenges of educating consumers about the benefits of vertical farming?

Traditional agriculture has been around for an exceptionally long time and so some are set in their ways as to the benefits of it. Although vertical farming does not intend to replace traditional ag, it certainly must coexist with it in order to alleviate some very serious issues that we face as a planet. The lack of arable land, water scarcity, growing population and global warming challenges are forcing us to adapt to methods of indoor farming incredibly quickly to ensure our survival.

What is your vision for the future of vertical farming and agricultural technology in general?

We truly believe that the industry is just getting started. Thankfully people are realizing that the issues at hand must be addressed quickly to ensure we alleviate the major pain points we are about to experience. We are hopeful that in the coming years, with the development of new technologies and advancements in LED lighting that vertical farming will become even more popular and help to develop a better and more reliable supply chain.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Cultivatd.

A serial entrepreneur Antoine Tardif is an advisor to MyCannabis, he is also the founder of multiple internet start-ups, and is a member of the Forbes Technology Council.