The poster winner from last year’s Five-Minute Pitch contest, Freight Farms, raised $1.2 million in Series A funding last December. The round was led by Morningside Venture Investments Limited, together with LaunchCapital and Rothenberg Ventures. Founder Brad McNamara says the Boston company is “moving right along,” scaling up manufacturing to meet national demand for their recycled shipping containers converted into intensive hydroponic farms.
“We’ve validated a market that no one believed existed,” said McNamara in a recent telephone interview. His team has grown to 12 full-time employees, selling the boxy farms to a wide variety of food entrepreneurs. Market interest in locally grown, fresh, healthy food continues to rise, and Freight Farms’ core product, “Leafy Green Machine,” is backordered until May. The 2014 model, with an improved light system, electrical design and software user interface, is shipping this spring.
Freight Farms first pitched at the WPI Venture Forum back in January 2011 when it was United Hydroponics. In the one-minute spotlight, McNamara asked for $250,000 to build a prototype for his urban rooftop greenhouse. A year later, he returned as Freight Farms, and the greenhouse concept had evolved into the high-yield food production shipping containers.