Babson Resources Help Grow MBA Student’s Startup on Campus


Just after 13 months of bodily labor and networking, Connor Harbison MBA’22 has cultivated fresh herbs and gardening constructions at Babson University this fall.

“We’re genuinely striving to make them extremely visible,” Harbison, founder of startup Atlas City Farms, said of these pop-up hydroponic towers mounted at outstanding destinations campuswide, including the office environment of President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD.

“Using this hydroponic engineering,” Harbison mentioned, “I can established up a backyard, and yard it with 24 vegetation in about 40 minutes. I just have to have a plug, and that is it.”

Compared with traditional soil farming, hydroponic farming grows plants in h2o.

“A seriously excellent way to think of it is an aquarium that grows crops,” Harbison stated of hydroponics. “The drinking water is virtually executing the operate. It uses about 95 percent much less drinking water than traditional agriculture, and with these towers, you can have a substantially extra dense procedure, so they are seriously awesome.”

New Company Undertaking

Harbison, a 2nd-year graduate university student, decided to pursue a hydroponic company undertaking on coming to Babson final drop.

Through his first year on campus, Harbison began thinking, “If vertical farming is a matter, why do food stuff deserts nevertheless exist?” he mentioned. “It sort of received me started off on this journey.”

The U.S. Office of Agriculture defines food stuff deserts as “areas wherever individuals have confined entry to a wide variety of healthful and inexpensive foodstuff.”

In January 2021, “I started rising matters in my apartment, primarily herbs, and I commenced an Instagram account,” said Harbison, a Boston resident from Philadelphia.

Harbison formerly toured a “cool” vertical farming web site in Jackson, Wyoming, he claims, but had never ever developed any crops or herbs right before creating Atlas City Farms.

Calling it a “laughably naïve way” of addressing food deserts, Harbison started out building hydroponic towers at property with food stuff-quality plastic right before understanding about the “super helpful” sources of the Weissman Foundry at Babson, he claimed.

The foundry presented Harbison with the place, equipment, and advice to construct his initial hydroponic tower on campus, he mentioned, and other Babson methods, especially its centers and institutes, helped him along the way.

Harbison manufactured agreements to assistance create profits for his startup. He also was awarded an Inventureship™ from The Lewis Institute for Social Innovation, he said.

By developing interactions with The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, The Lewis Institute for Social Innovation, the Entrepreneurial Management Village, and the Weissman Foundry, Harbison acquired essential institutional aid. These connections strengthened Harbison’s entrepreneurial spirit, permitting him to current market Atlas City Farms as a successful startup that does small business with Lettuce Develop, a company that provides Harbison with hydroponic methods dubbed the Farmstand, which can be housed anyplace, he stated.

“The total Babson community has been pretty, very useful all over all of this,” Harbison included, declaring he is “really grateful” to the Babson college, which include Julian Lange, the Governor Craig R. Benson ’77, H’03 Professor of Entrepreneurship and Community Plan.

Social Gatherings Organization

While Atlas City Farms grows herbs and creates hydroponic towers, the heart and soul of the firm is bringing people alongside one another, Harbison stated.

“I like creating a seriously memorable encounter,” mentioned Harbison, who earlier worked as a tour information in historic Philadelphia. Describing himself as “very extroverted,” Harbison stated he likes teaching persons and proposed the earnings driver for Atlas Urban Farms will be occasions and information.

In acquiring his startup, Harbison noticed providers these types of as Brooklyn Grange LLC, an city agriculture company that hosts social events on rooftop soil farms in New York Metropolis.

“I’d somewhat be doing anything and heading in the improper direction to determine it out later and kind of pivot. I consider Babson not only professes that, but then offers you the resources to do that, and that is just been the most critical thing here.”
Connor Harbison MBA’22

“Imagine getting a marriage ceremony on a farm on top of a creating with Manhattan as the backdrop,” Harbison said. “That’s an wonderful working experience, but that should not just be for New Yorkers. That should be for Bostonians and persons in Chicago and in L.A. and St. Louis. That really should be in just about every metropolis in the place.”

With Atlas Urban Farms, “The main small business is generating these areas,” Harbison claimed, “so that you can then have these ordeals.”

Entrepreneurial Believed & Action

Harbison appreciates the Babson Higher education mission to get ready and empower entrepreneurial leaders who “create, expand, and steward sustainable financial and social price just about everywhere.”

“Babson has this Entrepreneurial Assumed & Action® (ET&A™) motto,” he stated, “and I think that that motion is so crucial. You can spend several years coming up with the excellent business prepare, and I think that’s form of not really really worth performing.”

A person of motion, “I’d rather be doing a thing and heading in the incorrect direction to determine it out afterwards and form of pivot,” Harbison mentioned. “I consider Babson not only professes that, but then gives you the tools to do that, and that is just been the most critical point listed here.”

Harbison’s startup has set up hydroponic towers throughout the Babson community, which include the Weissman Foundry, the F.W. Olin Graduate University of Business enterprise at Babson, the business office of President Spinelli, The Arthur M. Blank Heart for Entrepreneurship, and the Carling-Sorenson Theater, he reported.

The concept is to create pop-up hydroponic gardens on campus to help make Babson a “more sustainable and welcoming community,” according to Harbison’s faculty job proposal.

“My supreme aim is to start a sustainable small business from this product,” Harbison said in his inventureship proposal for Atlas Urban Farms, “but tests it out at Babson Faculty is critical to my upcoming achievement.”

With Atlas Urban Farms up and managing, Harbison looks forward to setting up his crew with the assistance of Babson means.

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