Here's what I'm discovering from the hundreds of journals and thousands (literally) of comments and discussions in which we have engaged. First, the skill base of the founders is central to the issue of success. Usually, it is one sided, either they are fish people, or they are dirt farmers, or neither. Most have little or no actual experience running the day to day operation of a business. Do not understand the supply chain, value chain and have no experience with sales and marketing ... in particular, Branding!
That, absent lots of luck is a sure fire formula for failure. They are often woefully undercapitalized and do not understand that 'overhead' is a cost of doing business... and of course spend nothing on promotion. AND... since they are essentially independent minded confident people they will not hire competent consultants and rely on the usual snake oil consultants who practice witchcraft online.
Then there is the product. It is possible to make money with a small system (under 10/20K sq ft) but you have to chose your crop wisely (spring mix, salad greens...not lettuce) A boutique system can work but I know of few that do Liz Kim at Genesis Clock Farm in CA’s system seems to be one. I would love to hear their story. I’ll ask them to write a guest blog for us.
I am so happy to hear about Ouroboros and their successful business. We should do a focused case study on them as it would provide great impetus for VC's and others who would like to invest but fear (that like the Borg) profitability is futile. We have lost more than one investor at the due diligence stage.
As to the large systems... most have already failed and there are a number that are just starting. I know I have become the curmudgeon here but understand that I am and have been attempting to fund a minimum scaled (45K sqft) automated vertically integrated AP system for three years now! I have sunk every dime I ever made into this and am only now on the brink of getting off the ground. I WANT to know others have succeeded. I am a fan not a denigrator.
I will try to practice what I have been preaching and you can all be certain we will keep a visual and statistical record of our development and publish everything as transparency not secrecy is what we all need if we are going to save this planet ...we must work together.