Square Mile Farms is a vertical farming business created to bring farming to urban spaces, boosting wellbeing and sustainability. With community at the heart of the business, Co-Founders Patrick Dumas and Johnathan Ransom first came to Seedrs in 2020, raising £503,496 from 891 investors. In 2022 they returned to raise a further £643,863 from 695 investors, bringing the total number of unique investors up to 1,470.

We spoke to Co-Founder Patrick Dumas to find out more about the mission behind vertical farming and how community fundraising has helped scale the business.

Tell us a bit about Square Mile Farms and where the idea came from?

The original idea behind Square Mile Farms stemmed from the fact that as a society we’re removed from; our food system, where our food comes from, how it’s produced, and the impact it has on our health and nutrition. We are aware that within great big cities, there’s all kinds of real estate and land that’s not fully optimised. Whether it’s rooftops of buildings, disused basements or storage spaces, there’s a huge opportunity to convert grey space into green space. We designed ‘flat-packed farms’ that could fit in disused spaces, with a mission of putting food back in the heart of where people live and work, as opposed to food sources being thousands of miles away.

What we do that’s really novel is experiential farming; putting farms in lobbies, conference rooms, public office spaces, residential spaces, and more. Customers can vote on the next crop that’s grown and watch the process from the start to finish, developing an appreciation for fresh food. They can participate in harvests at work and take a bag of fresh lettuce or kale home to cook that night. This means zero food miles, super fresh food, and a new experience.

What does your fundraising journey look like?

My co-founder and I put in a lot of money and physical intervention into our business before coming to Seedrs. We built our first farm on our own to prove to ourselves that we could grow produce and brought onboard one anchor investor who’s still a big angel of ours. We knew the next stage was scaling our business, so we carried out our first Seedrs campaign. The money from this campaign was used to invest in acquiring more customers and building out our offering. The second raise was about doing more of the same, and we had two additional anchor investors in our second Seedrs campaign who had initially invested smaller tickets in our first! The money raised from our second round was used to recruit employees, cover operating overheads and purchase equipment that enabled us to scale further.

Did you ever consider any other fundraising options? 

One of the things we’re passionate about is community. We wanted our customers to be able to get involved in the harvest and invest in a sustainable way of producing food. As a result of the two Seedrs raises, we now have over 1000 investors and as mentioned before, two of our substantial Seedrs investors in the second round were small investors from the first, so it was rewarding to see that people were continuing on our journey and expressing confidence in us with bigger ticket sizes. 

We chose Seedrs because we felt the types of companies that have raised on Seedrs are more closely aligned to our business than on other platforms. All of our anchor investors are largely supportive of community fundraising because they see it as a way to increase the level of investment and create brand advocates.

How did your second Seedrs campaign compare with your first?

For our second campaign, we knew what to expect and decided to continue without advisors as we’d gained confidence in our story, the process to follow and the strategy to deploy. Fundraising is a very busy, stressful and distracting process but by the second round we were very clear on our message and much more efficient at keeping on top of all actions. A key learning I implemented for our second raise was having a clear communication strategy, such as LinkedIn and email outreach from the pre-registration stage onwards. We were more organised and proactive with our communication the second time, with a schedule list to work from.

How have you found the process of updating investors? 

We send out a quarterly update and have completed 12 of those now. Undoubtedly, it can be a bit nerve wracking communicating to over 1000 people but the feedback we’ve had is overwhelmingly positive, constructive and straightforward. We write updates, not only because we want to keep our community engaged, but because it’s beneficial to have each stage of our journey documented in case we need to raise again. Occasionally people respond to our updates with a lead or recommendation, which is really helpful. One of our Seedrs investors from the first round is now one of our larger clients! It’s great that she initially found out about us through our Seedrs campaign. 

What are the proceeds of your fundraising rounds?

Without funding we wouldn’t have been able to make necessary investments in hiring employees and covering fixed expenses for assets. Funding allowed us to scale effectively and we now have over 60 clients, working with large companies that increasingly recognise us as being credible. We have also built out relevant infrastructure to continue growing at scale, including the marketing brochure, the process flow and all required documentation. The process of farming is something that historically our ancestors have all been involved in, and we’re proud to be a unique business with a different spin on health, wellbeing and sustainability. We aren’t claiming to solve all of the world’s food problems, but our model helps raise awareness that our food system needs to change and there are small steps and choices we can take to do so. Thanks to Seedrs we have 1000 more people that listen to the stories we are telling and can help build a greater future for all.

Looking to raise funds through your community?

Apply to raise on Seedrs here and our team of fundraising experts will be in touch.