I though for a while of a word to describe our last week in NYC. I guess the most appropriate one would be “passion”. And this is because whenever we speak about innovation or sustainability, these concepts seem to be starting from the good will and the strong desire of individuals to make a positive impact on their communities.
The highlights of the week for me were two of the company visits: Brooklyn Grange and Green Map. The first company is in the business of rooftop farming. And this was interesting because although I heard of this concept before, I never saw how an actual rooftop farm would look like. And for those of you reading this blog and who are wondering the same, here is the link to their website, where you can find images and also a video of their farm (http://brooklyngrangefarm.com/). During the time spent with them we had a 1h presentation given by Ben Flanner and then we went to the rooftop to see the farm. What I enjoyed most was the presentation part, as he gave us a quite detailed description about their business model. Perhaps the most comprehensive business model description I have heard during this trip. In short, he gave us the story of how the business idea came to him, how they decided to start, how they chose the location, how much was the initial investment, how they started small scale and then expanded, how they build their customer base and what are the revenue streams, how they diversified their business (e.g. organizing events at the farm), how they scaled it, etc. The questions we had came from various areas related to our diverse professional backgrounds, but he seemed to have all areas figured out and this is what impressed me. Two topics we were discussing amongst ourselves after the presentation were how profitable is this business for them and whether this concept can be implemented in our home countries. For the first question we concluded based on the information we were given that the profit margins were not that high. But in this case, the business is about more than profit margins, it’s about doing something for the community. For the second question, we came to the conclusion that Bucharest or Budapest probably do not have the required infrastructure for such a project to be developed.
The second company visit was at Green Map, who is not a company in itself, but rather an NGO, supporting the creation of maps that show the “green” locations around the world. They also took us on a tour of what is called the “Alphabet City” (which was in the surrounding area of their office), where we looked at some community spaces (gardens, parks), being re-designed and improved for the use of the community.
In addition to these two experiences, I heard from my colleagues that the lecture given by Laszlo Karafiath (which I unfortunately missed), was quite interesting as well.
Overall, I believe we ended our 4 weeks NYC experience in a positive note! I am sure that everything we’ve seen and experienced will serve us good in our future! So thank you NYC and I am sure we will meet again! 🙂