"Software and snacks seems like a crazy combination,” Julia Collins admits.
But in truth, it’s just the beginning of a crazy-big idea.
Collins is the founder and CEO of Planet FWD. Its focus on software and snacks can be seen in two ways—the practical, and the philosophical. The practical is straightforward: Planet FWD sells a line of climate-friendly crackers and is developing software to connect farmers and suppliers with food brands.
Philosophically, “software and snacks” is a strategy for how a tiny startup can scale up to massive change. Collins has built big ideas before—she helped grow a big, buzzy startup that raised $375 million in capital and achieved a valuation of more than $1 billion. It was supposed to revolutionize the food industry. Instead, after Collins’ departure, it burned through that capital and burned out on its original goals, too. It’s a lesson that even with the best intentions and a powerful network of support, creating change is very hard—and it must be approached with delicate precision.
Now she’s building that lesson into Planet FWD, the actual goal of which is to revolutionize agriculture and food production to help stop climate change. But with a goal that big, where do you even begin? It’s too much. So Collins approaches problems with patience— she baby-steps her way up the mountain.
“One thing that makes it easy for me to digest huge issues,” she says, “is to start with something tangible that I can build around.”
And so, she started out with what’s reasonable: software that helps create more ecofriendly foods, and a snack to prove that it’s possible. Software and snacks.
Now, as Collins sets out to build this company in a methodical way, Planet FWD serves as a test case for big-thinking entrepreneurs. Is slow and steady the right way forward?
“The first thing for us is imagining one climate- friendly snack,” Collins says. “From there we can multiply—and multiply impact.”
Planet FWD began with a problem: Globally, nearly 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from food production. At the current rate of soil degradation, caused by reliance on fertilizers, scientists suggest that we could actually run out of topsoil in the next 60 years.
Collins became interested in a potential solution called regenerative agriculture, a practice that’s gaining increasing attention from scientists and activists. In simplest terms, it describes a farming system that prioritizes soil health and water management, and can actually sequester carbon. But of the 930 million acres of farmland in America, just about 5 percent is managed this way.
As Collins dug into why that might be, she learned that communication played a big role. Murky, varying definitions of regenerative agriculture had left growers without any finite guidelines or metrics to track.
“It wasn’t only hard to understand what was already available from suppliers, but what might be available,” she says. “The information just wasn’t there.”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
WE KNOW LESS THAN WE THINK
And that’s a good thing! The greatest lesson from the pandemic is this: Possibilities are endless.
READY FOR A BIG RETURN
The end of the pandemic is in sight, and many franchises are anticipating an explosion in business. Leaders at four franchises share how their brands are working overtime to prepare for the rush and win back coveted business.
DESKS THAT KILL ZOOM FATIGUE?
Another workday at home getting you down? A new line of desks will help you up— and help you maintain focus.
ONE RESTAURANT, EIGHT BRANDS
To boost sales during the pandemic, the founders of Dog Haus flooded the delivery apps with virtual restaurants that operate out of existing franchise kitchens. They’ve been so valuable that they’re now here to stay.
MAKING BIG CHANGES IN TIMES OF BIG CHANGE (OR WHY AMAZON CREATED THE KINDLE)
Entrepreneurs are defined by how they adapt during crises. In this exclusive excerpt from their book Working Backwards, longtime Amazon execs Colin Bryar and Bill Carr reveal how the company dealt with massive disruption…and transformed itself as a result.
The year 2021 may feel uncertain, but set your expectations high anyway. Doing so will become your guiding force.
THE TIME FOR REINVENTION IS NOW
Our world has changed. As people—and as entrepreneurs—we should change, too. Follow these three steps to find new opportunities and capture them with success.
HIS WORST FIVE YEARS WERE HIS LIFE'S BEST GIFT
What is it like to build a hit business and then lose all control? Oded Brenner, the founder of Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man has a lot to say about that.
HOW TO TAKE DOWN GOLIATH
The biggest companies can still be taken down by the smallest startups. Here are four strategies disruptors use to fight their way up.
THE RISE OF THE SMART BOARD
Miss having in-person meetings in front of whiteboards? Now you can replicate them remotely.