Adam Sousa is currently going for an Information systems degree with a minor in entrepreneurship and accounting who is expecting to graduate in Fall of 2016. He has started up a few different companies, and is currently working on a company called GreenPi Hydroponics. Adam has used this idea to compete in several different entrepreneurship competitions, including The Sontag Competition, The Governor’s Cup, and The Clean Tech Open. GreenPi Hydroponics is a company that is focused on growing fresh vegetables and herbs for local restaurants and grocery stores.
Reid: How did the idea for your startup come about?
Adam: Youtube – watching a lot of videos, I started learning about aquaponics and hydroponics. Honestly, it started a large amount with pot growers – these guys were doing these intricate systems with nutrient film technique and these huge houses with these absolutely gorgeous systems. Thats what drove the technology to make it affordable and reasonable for produce production. I’ve always had a food background as well. Since I was a kid, we had a backyard garden that we would cook out of and in high school I started culinary school my freshman year. I did culinary school throughout high school as well. Over the years I considered myself a foodie, who has been about seed to fork and cooking from scratch. I didn’t really think about building into a big business until I started running across these Youtube videos.
Reid: What advice would you give to those students that are interested in Entrepreneurship?
Adam: First off you need to be crazy! Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everybody – it’s not easy, its not always glamorous but it is rewarding. Instead of building somebody else’s dream, you are building your own. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to find something that you are passionate about and find something that drives you. If you are trying to become an entrepreneur and trying to come up with something that will only make you money, your not necessarily going to be doing something that is going to make you happy. For how much work it takes to be an entrepreneur, you need to be passionate and you need to get reward from the work and not the paycheck – because in reality the paycheck may not come for a while.
Reid: What have been some of your failures, and how have you dealt with them?
Adam: A lot of failures has been spreading myself too thin. I was the COO of another company that is in a different market with a different sales style, and in reality I wasn’t doing either company any good. Therefore I felt I needed to refocus after that so I decided to resign from my position as COO. Nowadays, I work with another company but its similar to GreenPi Hydroponics in that it is in a similar market. Within GreenPi, the biggest blunder was what I would title “free tractor.” We purchased some property and were going to build a greenhouse and we needed to dig a hole. One of my business partners had a tractor he said we could use for free, so we paid all the money to get the thing there and everything and the tractor broke after only a day. We then spent about a week fixing it and it would last a few days, but then break down again. Essentially, the tractor would break after only a few days after spending more than a week to fix it. We eventually spent all summer trying to fix a tractor instead of working on our business. On a project we should’ve finished in a week, we are still trying to finish today. Its a reminder that you get what you pay for and to be cautious of “free.”
Reid: Where do you see yourself or your startup in 10 years?
Adam: Hopefully working with SpaceX or NASA helping to put green houses in orbit. Elon musk has talked about bringing asteroids in orbit around earth in order to mine their resources, so we are going to need to have teams and civilians in space that do jobs like they do on earth. With that we are going to need to feed them. We can either do dried processed, unhealthy food – similar to what is up there now – or we can have fresher and better produce that makes things much easier for those up there.
Reid: Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Adam: My father, he started his own company and his own business that was completely different: marriage and family therapy. He was really big on making sure that whatever he was doing was supporting the community – he started a non profit charity where all the proceeds would go to help underprivileged children that were not able to communicate. In the entrepreneurship community, it would be Elon Musk: He is passionate, diverse and he didn’t just start with Paypal, he started with earlier diverse companies and then moved on to Paypal. He then took his huge Paypal fortune and he started a space company, it is a difficult thing to do – and he does it.