Meet Our Members
Our co-working members are builders; tinkerers; beginning growers; researchers; and entrepreneurs. All are driven by a shared passion to create more sustainable solutions within our urban food system. Check out a few of our highlighted members from past and present below.
"The Entrepreneur" - Jason Biegel
An experienced software engineer, Jason's passion for urban agriculture developed after he stumbled into a hydroponics store in New Jersey. One of the things Jason finds most appealing about hydroponics is the potential for creativity in the engineering of grow systems. Jason is also committed to living sustainably, which is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that he runs his Volkswagen on recycled cooking oil, which he collects himself.
Jason was an inaugural member of the Co-Lab, from June-Sept 2017. Since leaving with a developed business plan for his company, Garden City Grows, Jason has begun the buildout of his prototype farm in Jersey City and will soon be selling different varieties of basil to craft cocktail bars.
He highlighted the 1-1 time he got with Henry, Ricky, and Kate as a huge value-add. "It was like we were starting a company together," says Jason. Another one: the ability to learn and fail fast, without the typical associated risks and costs. "This was a place for me to make small mistakes and then learn from them."
"The Builder" - Anina Stanton
Brought up by Australian parents to be water and energy conscious, Anina is always looking for ways to repurpose and minimize waste products - both material and energy. Driven towards closed loop design, she came to the Co-Lab looking to incorporate radically integrated mechanical systems and renewable energy sources into controlled environment applications.
Anina was an inaugural member of the Co-Lab, from June-August 2017. She left to start a new job as the lead fabricator for an ambitious startup that is reinventing the process for turning organic waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer, in controlled-environment urban facilities.
"I joined AgTech X because I had made a decision to enter the industry of Controlled Environment Agriculture, but I had no idea how to go about it. The process of exploration, immensely stimulating and fruitful conversations, and cultivating connections helped me to hone in on my interests and finally feel that I found 'my people.' I have started a new job that Ricky helped me find and it has put me on a path I was only dreaming about. I am eternally grateful and look forward to the many others who, like me, want to get involved but just need the key to get across the threshold."
"The Researcher" - Wythe Marschall
Wythe is an anthropologist of plant-based startups, currently finishing his Ph.D. in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard. His dissertation examines the production of value—in all senses of the word, including ecological—using indoor agriculture. Previously, Wythe worked in the world of advertising and co-produced exhibitions on art and science in Brooklyn, critically exploring biotechnology and visions of future cities. Wythe received his BA in literature from Bennington College and his MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, where he taught in the English Department for five years.
"In addition to meeting many inspiring growers and other experts, I'm excited to acquire more hands-on training with hydroponics at the Co-Lab. I think we're in a period of intensive creativity regarding what an urban farm is, should, or can be. Spaces such as AgTech X can play a vital role in curating relevant discussions and providing business and horticultural training, in the heart of Brooklyn."
"The Tinkerer" - Dan Nelson
Since falling in love with the Urban Agriculture world in 2016, Dan has pivoted his life and career toward learning more about driving technology and innovation into urban areas to help people eat better, fresher, and healthier food. Through Techbrainstorm, Dan provides strategic and financial consulting to startups, particularly those in the Urban Ag space. After graduating with degrees in economics and accounting from Michigan, Dan has had a winding 12-year career. He currently considers himself a recovering accountant.
"Personal Food Computer v2.0 is a unique, high-tech example of a fully controlled micro-environment for growing plants hydroponically. The device is a key node of MIT Open Ag's global network of #nerdfarmers, and I am excited to have it reside at the Co-Lab as a tool for entrepreneurs and innovators to learn more about AgTech."