“A lot of times, we have a lot of opinion, as consumers of food, about what agriculture should look like, how food should be made, how it should be processed, how it should be delivered to you, and we have a lot of opinion on how agriculture should run but we don’t identify in anyway with how agriculture actually happens.  We don’t care if a robot makes it and we would never want to be a farmer.”

~Stuart Oda

Stuart Oda is an investment banker turned urban farmer with a passion for innovation and sustainability. In 2013, Stuart founded Alesca Life, an agricultural technology company that builds indoor, vertical farms and farm management software to make food production more localized and data driven.

Stuart is a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and Alesca has been part of multiple prestigious accelerator programs including Stanford StartX, Thrive Agtech, Unreasonable Impact, Pearse Lyons, BitsxBites, and Dubai Future Accelerator as an innovator in the field of controlled environment agriculture, hyper-local urban farming, and Farming-as-a-Service.

Alesca’s focus on emerging markets and re-framing our conversation around food and agriculture is making positive changes on a global scale for all of humanity.

Stuart is an UCLA alumni and previously worked in the investment banking division of Merrill Lynch Japan Securities in Tokyo and the emerging market business strategy team at Dell China in Beijing.

Enjoy the show!

To be Posted on February 20, 2020

Show Notes:

  • 01:15 – On being a second generation Japanese American, born in Colorado.

  • 02:30 – Exposure to finance and technology through Merrill Lynch.

  • 4:00 – Impacting the lives of many through finance mechanisms.

  • 9:00 – Maintaining a healthy level of disrespect for things that are legacy.

  • 9:30 – Growing up in Singapore and what life was back then.

  • 13:00 – The challenge and thrill of starting over and rebuilding.

  • 16:30 – On moving to China to work for DELL China.

  • 20:30 – On Lenovo’s strategy of exporting China’s roadmap.

  • 22:45 – Some of the major trends across every geography the research looked at, from income to technology trends.

  • 25:30 – Alesca Life, an agriculture technology company, building indoor farms and farm management solutions.

  • 25:35 – Bundling and unbundling of the software and hardware.

  • 29:00 – If only one form of transportation, we would be severely limited to inefficient modes depending on the situation.

  • 30:45 – Difference between indoor vertical farms and greenhouses.

  • 35:15 – Alesca Life’s two business models – Producer & Enabler.

  • 38:00 – Simulating four natural disasters to adapt taste.

  • 40:00 – Defining fleets in 4s and 5s for efficiency (per Urban Grower).

  • 45:00 – Everything they do is hydroponic.

  • 48:15 – Fiber optics, lasers and the future of AgriTech is ambitious.

  • 50:00 – Looking to cloud server management for best practices in the future of AgriTech.

  • 56:00 – “We have a lot of opinions, as consumers of food, of what agriculture should look like…”

  • 60:00 – On using the term agriculture and foods.

  • 61:45 – The emerging market focus of Alesca Life.

  • 65:45 – Showcasing the Alesca Life ‘farm’ and the Mercedes Benz cafe case.

  • 66:45 – The fun things they are planning to do in R&D.

  • 69:15 – Personalized customizations for growing.

  • 71:45 – Exposure to new innovative business models due to his exposure to the Chinese market.

  • 73:30 – Alesca’s moonshot of ‘Free Food’.

  • 77:30 – Thoughts on giving food (or even money) away to people and finding life fulfillment.

  • 80:30 – On never using the word ‘farmer’.

  • 82:00 – Alesca’s experience with various startup accelerators and Stuart’s takeaways.

  • 87:30 – On his lack of time to watch movies or TV shows since founding Alesca Life.

  • 92:00 – His current role as a ‘Bible salesman’

  • 95:45 – On having a VR/AR enabled pitch deck.

  • 97:30 – His thoughts on colonizing the moon and growing food on Mars.

  • 101:30 – The coincidence in his family name and finding his life purpose.

  • 102:30 – Hard work is superior to talent.

  • 110:45 – “Constellating” in R&D projects.


Planet Earth

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