Contain Inc Gets Equipped

The past year has led so many of us to reevaluate our path in life, and that has been as true for the Contain team as for everyone else. Contain’s core business is helping indoor farmers to find financing for their grows, large or small. As we see new farmers adopt controlled environment agriculture from all walks of life, that mission has become more important than ever. From plant factory Aerofarm’s recent SPAC move to greenhouse major AppHarvest’s recent AI acquisition, indoor agriculture is mainstreaming fast.

During the travails of the last year, we realized that we could have a greater impact on controlled environment agriculture by expanding our offerings. We began to ask ourselves: “how can we use our networks and skills to effect more positive change?”.

Last September, we launched Rooted Global with Singapore family office ID Capital. It equips corporate employees with the tools that they need to grow a little of their own food at home. It is our small contribution to enabling everyone to contribute to feeding 10 billion people by 2050, and to reducing our climate impact in doing so. Our results to date have been extraordinary. Our cultivators love that they can build community with their colleagues remotely while picking up a new skill set that doesn’t involve Zoom. 99% of one cultivator group said that they would recommend Rooted. So many have told us that participating in Rooted puts a smile on their face, and that makes us happy as our greatest KPI for Rooted is joy. We’re now in five countries and planning to be in ten by the end of the year. Our cultivator crowd has doubled since the beginning of the year.

Now, we finally get to unveil a project that has been much longer in the works, Equipped, the first platform of its kind for trading used indoor farming equipment.

In our everyday interactions at Contain, indoor farmers often ask us where they can find used and affordable indoor farm equipment, and we never had a decent answer. At the same time, more established growers wondered where they could resell or donate used equipment.

We discovered that they were scouring mainstream listing sites, with fingers crossed that transactions won’t fall through. First of all, these sites were never designed for specialty farming equipment. And secondly, who wants to sift through large resell websites, meet a seller in a parking lot somewhere, and never feel fully confident in their purchases? With limited information and zero verification processes, there’s little to no guarantee that you’ll get what you paid for.

We realized that there was an opportunity for us to be of service to the industry by providing a reliable, secure marketplace.

How It Works

The journey to launch Equipped has been a labor of love for the Contain team. We focused on inclusion as we were building it. We want it to be as accessible to a student starting a home grow as to a multinational looking to monetize their surplus equipment. And then we geeked out on the legal, tax, payment and process details that usually make buying or selling equipment a hassle.

Our platform is indoor agriculture-focused and “equipped” with security features to ensure buyers can trust they’ve made the right decision. We spent forever figuring out processes that are fair for everyone involved, and after this hard work, we were able to construct an industry-specific purchasing procedure with pro-grade payments. We’ve benefited from the wisdom of industry leaders like Stripe in this endeavor.

Our listings include industry-specific data, a history of how the equipment has been used and images and video. Buyers can ask for more information and — as we’re transparent — we’ll publish sellers’ answers on the listings. Buying is simple; you can make an offer or buy at the asking price and — once you’ve arranged shipment — you just sit back and wait for your equipment to arrive at your door. We’ve even provided access to shipping and insurance brokers, consultants and financing to make life easier.

Meanwhile, Equipped allows sellers to anonymously list their indoor farm equipment. We make efforts to ensure that sellers are who they say they are. For instance, for larger listings, we run lien searches to check that equipment actually belongs to the seller. Many farmers are expanding operations in the current environment and we can make it cheaper for them to upgrade by selling off existing equipment. We know that equipment manufacturers are as keen to enhance their margins as the rest of us, and Equipped is designed to help them discreetly dispose of remaindered, seconds or returned equipment. We’re already working with sellers from one of the largest plant factory companies in the world to small local growers.

We aim to make Equipped as comprehensive as possible, so buyers can find everything from grow lights to substrates for their grow. At launch, Equipped has more than 1,000 items listed with a value of more than $2mm. And we’re adding to that every day.

Why We Do It

We view indoor agriculture as a route to food and financial independence. For those seeking this freedom, the financial burden of purchasing brand new farming equipment can deter them from the industry completely. Many farmers are new to the industry and looking for low start-up costs. It can take forever to find the right equipment.

The Equipped platform simplifies that process and can cut the cost of entry into the business significantly. For example, a brand new container farm will run you anywhere from $80k to $130k. Used container farms can be as little as $30k. That means the unit can pay itself back in as few as 8-months of operations.

At Contain, we work with indoor farmers every day and know that COVID has hurt too many. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 43% of U.S. adults say that they or someone in their household has lost a job or taken a cut in pay due to the outbreak, up 33% from last March. This financial fallout has been especially egregious for lower-income families, where the percent having experienced an upheaval to their job is closer to 55%.

Another COVID-19 impact that has burdened indoor farms is the financial blow to the restaurant industry. According to a report from Statista, as of December 2020, more than 110,000 restaurants in the United States were closed either permanently or long-term. Considering that many smaller growers supply food to local restaurants, many have lost dependable clients and income streams, making affordable equipment options even more essential within the industry .

There’s also a bigger mission to discuss here. At Contain, we believe that the way we can best contribute to combating climate change is to encourage as many new farmers as possible. A good way to do this? Lower the barriers to entry. With lower prices and a easy-to-use platform, Equipped makes it so much easier for the curious grower to start an indoor farm.

Indoor agriculture enables growers to establish their farms anywhere they please, regardless of local climate and land availability. If farmers are to sell these crops to local restaurants and markets, the impact can compound to make a significant and positive impact on our climate crisis. Additionally, upcycling used equipment lowers overall emissions within the controlled environment agriculture industry, and means less waste and resource input.

According to the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems, traditionally grown food travels approximately 1,500 miles from farm to plate and is responsible for 5 to 17 times more CO2 than locally or regionally produced food. With new indoor farms popping up all over the world, the capacity for locally grown food can increase drastically and operate beyond traditional growing seasons.

The Contain team is proud of its work on Equipped, but we’re not done yet. We’re already hard at work on new features for the platform. In the meantime, we hope that anyone in the industry, no matter how large or small, can find value in what Equipped has to offer.

About Contain

Contain is out to empower the indoor ag industry of tomorrow. Our first and key mission is bringing easier and faster financing to controlled environment agriculture, but we aren’t stopping there. We create platforms to move the industry forward, and most importantly find ways to make indoor ag more accessible to farmers like you. See more about us at contain.ag

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Contain Inc | Nicola Kerslake

Contain is out to empower the indoor ag industry. We offer leasing, pre-owned equipment sales, urban farming corporate wellness, insurance. contain.ag