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By Brittany Smythe
BSBA Marketing ’11

Josh Hottenstein and Myles Lewis may have graduated from the University of Arizona in May of 2009, but their year-long coursework in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program did not stop with the toss of a cap.

After winning the 2009 Venture Competition Showcase with their venture Verdant Earth Technologies, Hottenstein and Lewis seized the opportunity to take the business from idea to reality.  They joined the Arizona Center for Innovation to refine the business concept and launched on July 1, 2009.

“The McGuire Program gave us an excellent base of knowledge with which to launch our venture,” says Hottenstein (MS MIS ’09). “Going through the McGuire Program, you learn what the different stakeholders will expect and how to look at your business as a whole as opposed to specific functional areas.”

Verdant Earth Technologies develops controlled agricultural production systems that allow for growth in non-traditional environments. Since launching, Hottenstien and Lewis have made significant progress, acquiring their first customer and planting 50,000 seedlings in a monitored environment using controlled agriculture practices. The company is also partnering with the University of Arizona to provide research feedback through these plantings and greenhouse operations.

Verdant Earth is continuing to expand on its initial idea and Hottenstein believes that the profits generated from the first planting will help fund the development of a proof-of-concept system that will scale into the containerized growing system. 

“In serving our customer, we are providing seedling production and locally advancing the agriculture industry in Arizona,” says Hottenstein. 

Come May, Verdant Earth Technologies plans to retain the greenhouse that was used for seedling production as an additional facility. This facility will provide the company with opportunities to improve development systems and grow produce for market trials.