The Career Farm Podcast - From corporate job to running a sustainable urban farming business with 7 figure backing in just 3 years - Kate Hofman of Growup

"I listen to your podcast, please can you interview my neighbour?"

This was how I was introduced to Kate Hofman who with her co-founder has set up an innovative aquaponics business. For those of you not in the know aquaponics is basically a system whereby you grow fish and plants together. The waste from the fish provides nutrients to grow the plants which in turn cleans the water. This system ticks many boxes from an environmental point of view, having high conversion rates of inputs to protein and is able to occur in cities. Basically, sustainable urban farming.

The Career Farm Podcast with Jane Barrett - Kate Hofman of GrowUpKate left IBM after completing a Masters in Environmental Technology and Business, with her dissertation being on the commercialisation of aquaponics. First the concept was tested by building a pilot. Kate describes it as a shipping container with a a greenhouse on top! The money was raised via Kickstarter - one of the very first projects in the UK. This led to winning grants and investment from social impact funds to enable the next phase of building an urban farm to go ahead.

Based inside an industrial warehouse in Beckton, the farm combines two well-established farming practices – aquaculture (farming fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in a nutrient solution without soil) in a recirculating system. The 6,000 square feet of growing space will produce more than 20,000 kg of sustainable salads and herbs (enough for 200,000 salad bags) and 4,000 kg of fish each year.

The Career Farm Podcast with Jane Barrett - The GrowUp box

In this interview we find out:

  • Why Kate doesn't describe herself as an entrepreneur
  • The environmental benefits of what they do as a social enterprise
  • What she learned about running a successful crowdfunding campaign and their innovative rewards
  • Why she left IBM, and her journey to setting up the business
  • Some of the challenges she has faced and how she has overcome them



Ignite Impact Investment Fund

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey

We have other interviews on crowdfunding such as last month's podcast by Guy Jeremiah on Lessons I have learned from successful crowdfunding campaigns and we are delighted to report he successfully met his target on his second crowdfunding campaign!

You may also find useful these blogs by Hermione Taylor, founder of Do Nation about why she chose crowdfunding:
Want to get your head around crowdfunding? here is everything I know about it
Crowdfunding some lessons and tips

I really hope enjoyed the interview with Kate If you have any thoughts or comments about this episode, please do share them with us on Twitter or Facebook – we’d love to hear from you!

And finally, if you get a chance I would be hugely grateful if you could leave an honest review for The Career Farm Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They're so important to the ranking of the show and I do read every one. If you've left one already, thank you so much!

Click here to open the show in iTunes where you can leave a review and you can also subscribe to get new episodes automatically.

Thanks again to Kate for giving us her time to be interviewed. Inspiring stuff!