Guest post by Lorena Galvan, Thought For Food ambassador.
Millennial food innovators are pioneering a better food future from farm to fork. Our Millennial Innovators Uprooting Our Food System series profiles the bright, creative and driven university students from around the world that make up Thought For Food (TFF), a next generation food innovation platform. A global community as well as a summit and business competition, TFF empowers breakthrough solutions to feed nine billion people by 2050. During this month-long series, we will highlight the work of select TFFers who are working to transform our food system.
This week we chatted with KinoSol, an Iowa State University based startup providing small-scale, solar-powered food dehydrator for fruits, vegetables and grains, to subsistence farmers in developing countries. The KinoSol team, made up of Clayton Mooney, Mikayla Sullivan, Ella Gehrke and Elise Kendall, started the company as students after becoming finalists in the 2014/15 Thought For Food Challenge. Our interview has been edited for brevity.
Mikayla Sullivan: Our KinoSol units help farmers and families have more food, better nutrition, and increased income within their household. Dehydration leads to increased food availability, subsequently increasing products available for the market. KinoSol’s storage unit keeps a large amount of dried produce fresh, and allows the dehydrated produce to be easily brought to market. By selling excess produce, it increases the livelihoods of farmers, their families, and the community.
Elise Kendall: After attending the 2013 Thought for Food (TFF) Summit in Germany, Mikayla Sullivan wanted to form a team to compete the following year. Through the Global Resource Systems major at Iowa State University, the team was formed in September of 2014. KinoSol was born through brainstorming solutions to fight food security issues for a growing population. It’s been a BIG roller coaster ride of momentum since TFF and groups like TFF and Innové were the stepping-stones to grow KinoSol into a startup.
Clayton Mooney: To begin obtaining partnerships, we all had to get out of our comfort zones, pull back our overly humble Midwestern shirt sleeves, and tell our story in the hopes that others would see our vision and share our passion. This secured our first partnership and led to early field-testing in Uganda. Our field-testing in Uganda this past summer went above and beyond our expected results, our story spread and more people wanted to become involved. Now we have partnerships in Uganda, Ghana, Brazil, El Salvador, and Nepal. We’re sending out more units for field-testing in the coming weeks, so KinoSol units can begin making positive impacts on farmers all over the world.
Clayton Mooney: The TFF Summit in Portugal was a wonderful experience for us to meet and work alongside people our age who are fighting to make a change in the world. The community, location, lessons, and friendships made during the Summit gave us the drive and the momentum to take KinoSol from just an idea to a company that will have a significant impact on people’s lives. We gained an incredible community of supporters who wanted to help make our dream a reality. We are still collaborating with the people we met through the TFF community and using these connections to help each other any way we can.
If you have the passion for an idea or movement, dedicate yourself to it, and don’t let others change your mind. Don’t accept it when people tell you that your idea won’t work, you’re too young or too inexperienced. You can choose to spend your life chasing a paycheck or chasing a dream, and we definitely recommend the latter.
Learn more about the annual Thought For Food Challenge. This year ten finalist teams will win a trip to the TFF Summit in Zurich, Switzerland, where they will compete for a chance to win up to $15,000 to launch their ideas.