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Story of an Environmental Entrepreneur in China


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Subject: Alex will talk about his social venture ‘The Verdura’ where they have built their growing systems from the ground up so that the produce is tastier, healthier and more sustainable.
Background: Alex is the founder of The Verdura, a new business that integrates zero waste farming practices with the latest advances in soilless technology to grow high quality greens for local restaurants. He is passionate about gathering together like-minded people to sustainably improve the way food is grown and consumed in China.
Alex is from Singapore and has been based in China since 2006. He is also currently the China General Manager for the Taiko Group, where he is responsible for risk management and structuring of agri-commodity trade flows between China and Southeast Asia. Prior to joining Taiko Group, Alex served on the Asia Pacific Strategy and Business Development team of Cargill Incorporated, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural and financial products and services. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Adelaide, Australia and a master’s degree in business administration from China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).

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Story of an Environmental Entrepreneur in China

  1. 1. So you want to be an Green Entrepreneur?
  2. 2. THE DREAM •  Originally - Make a place for baby daughter Alyssa to be close to the land. •  Fate attracted key team members together – the Builder, the Salesman, the Guanxi Expert, the Foodie •  Gap in the food market that was not being served – why not build a business? •  Bring together technology, knowledge and capital to uplift “三农” in rural china. •  Make profits in China with a green conscience! Produce the best seed to plate greens for Shanghai Chefs
  3. 3. Microgreens Microgreens make dishes into an artistic masterpiece with vibrant colors, strong flavors and distinctive plate presentation. Our Products Herbs Culinary herbs are sourced from USA/Europe so that taste is never compromised.
  4. 4. How We Grow Hydroponics Aquaponics Applying soil-less, nutrient solution culture to plant roots in controlled growing facility Combination of aquaculture and hydroponics in a symbiotic system   We built our own grow systems from the ground up and use sustainable horticultural practices.
  5. 5. How We Are Sustainable Local   delivery   (70  KM)   Use  natural   &  safe   growing   prac=ces     Recircula=ng   grow   systems   Deploy   renewable   energy   Engage  local   community   We  work  with  the   community  to  source   most  materials  locally   and  exchange   knowledge     Growing  technologies   are  designed  to  reuse   and  conserve  water   and  nutrient  resources   We  use  no  pes=cides,   herbicides,  or   contaminated  water.   We  use  stringent   codes  and  filtra=ons.     We  deliver  in  Shanghai   reducing  transport,   carbon  footprint,  and   ensuring  produce   freshness     Harness  local  energy   sources  included   rainwater  collec=on,   wind  energy   Green   Incubator  for   display  &   storage   We  offer  green   incubator  systems  to   keep  greens  living  and   minimize  delivery   frequency  
  6. 6. ❖  SUSTAINABILITY: We manage and operate responsibly and minimizing our impact on the local environment as much as we can. ❖  HIGH-TECHNOLOGY PRACTICES: We leverage technological advancement for a more resilient and restful growing future. ❖  SAFETY: We care about people’s health and use soil-less systems to avoid harmful chemicals. ❖  PASSION & HARD WORK: We want to cultivate sustainable agriculture and connect people back to their food. ❖  MULTI-CULTURAL: We are a global melting pot of agricultural professionals and respect and encourage cultural diversity. Our Credo
  7. 7. Started with an empty rice field..
  8. 8. From Zero to Full Speed Ahead
  9. 9. From Zero to Full Speed Ahead
  10. 10. Growing and motivating the team!
  11. 11. •   Business  plan  is  key  before  anything!   – Where  to  play,  How  to  win,  People  and  Assets,  Goals,  Key   Capabili=es  needed   •   Validate  that  plan!  (including  talking  to  poten=al   customers,  suppliers  and  compe=tors)     •   Corporate  structure  –  WOFE  or  Local  company     •   Capital  Requirements  –  overseas  funding  takes  more  =me   to  inject  as  RMB  capital.  Op=mal  Debt/Equity  ra=o  worth   exploring  as  shareholder  loan  easier  to  move  $  around.     •   Business  Scope  and  registered  address.  Which  tax  district?   Any  government  incen=ves?       •   Expecta=ons  of  roles  and  =me  commitment  of  all  partners   clear?     Before  you  start….  
  12. 12. •   Take  what  you  expect  to  spend  on  capex  and  double   it.  Implica=ons  on  IRR?   •   Make  sure  you  get  the  Band  together  before  star=ng   out!  Your  team  is  biggest  asset.     •   Government  regula=ons  in  China  are  complicated  but   ignorance  is  NOT  an  excuse!     •   Take  into  account  =me  factor  of  gecng  necessary   licenses  and  permits  (especially  WOFE)   •   Be  prepared  to  make  sacrifices  to  your  lifestyle.  You   need  insane  clarity  and  focus  to  get  a  startup  off  the   ground.   Top  5  Learning  
  13. 13. •   Overall  green  businesses  have  slower  payback   than  tradi=onal  projects  !     •   Tradi=onal  businesses  externalize  environmental   costs  (see  Tragedy  of  Commons)  and  internalize   all  profits     •   A  green  business  tries  to  strike  that  balance   between  paying  fair  share  for  external  costs  and   s=ll  turning  a  profit   •   This  is  about  passion  and  wan=ng  to  live  a   different  way  rather  than  inves=ng  in  “trendy”.     Expecta=ons  on  Return  
  14. 14. Alex  Ng   Founder   C:  1502  1338  433   E:   W:   Good Luck with building your Green Dream!