Featured Founder: Zach Correa of lemonGRAFT
Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Zach Correa of lemonGRAFT, a decentralized, peer-to-peer platform for buying and selling local & homegrown foods with your neighbors.
What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?
I was an architect, with a passion for designing small sustainable communities. But one day I realized we first needed sustainable infrastructure, and that the starting point for that was food. Everything is dependent on a sustainable food system. When I looked for one that met all the criteria I believe to be necessary to qualify it as sustainable, I didn't find it. So I put a team together to build lemonGRAFT.com, a peer-to-peer decentralized supply chain for buying and selling local food with your neighbors.
What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?
We are producing a peer-to-peer platform where you can shop in your neighbors’ backyard to buy and sell local and homegrown food. Like Airbnb, or Uber, but for food. The current supply chain for food is unsustainable and collapsing. Prices are going through the roof, farmers are broke, and selling their farms, and the environment is bearing the burden of the toxic waste produced by our industrial agricultural systems. The food currently being produced is nutrient depleted, and we are experiencing a public health crisis. There are monopolies, mafias, and injustice all wrapped up in how we currently get our food and it won't last forever.
Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is losing faith when you encounter a LOT of tiny failures or hurdles. I've had to learn how to cherish the little wins and not get discouraged by the bumps in the road. Persistence is key in this industry, it allows us to iterate, try something else, and make it work. We only truly fail when we decide to stop trying to succeed.
Where do you see your company headed next?
Once we close our seed round, we are going to officially launch and expand throughout Tampa and a couple of other cities as we push major marketing campaigns to onboard members to the platform. Our goal is to reach the first breakeven point within 1 year and become cash flow positive, which will be 12k monthly purchases through lemonGRAFT.com.
Give us a tactical piece of advice that you'd share with another founder just starting out.
Don't be afraid to do the work, produce the minimum viable version of your product or service, and talk to tons of strangers to discover what their needs and pains are. And learn to sell by pitching in very high volume.
Why Tampa Bay?
I've grown up here, went to college at USF, and got married here. It's always been home. In the last few years, Tampa has really grown to be a major city in the U.S. The fast growth and establishment of resources like Embarc Collective made it apparent to me that we could successfully launch a tech company here.