Victor Bentiez is the founder of Urban Farm Kits, a small company on a mission to make healthy, organic food cheaper and more accessible by making it easier for people to get started with urban agriculture. We interviewed him about what motivated him to start his business and where he wants to take it in the years to come.
When did you start your business and what motivated you to take the leap?
Approximately two years ago. The idea for this business has changed too many times to count so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the business really began. What motivates me are social justice and anger. Right now most people can’t get really fresh, organic, tasty food at a low price. The can’t afford it; so they go without it. It’s very possible to fix this problem, but it takes investment, new ideas, and taking risks. I hate apathy and it angers me to no end to see how bureaucracy and old ways of thinking hold policy in place and prevent decision makers from creating faster change. That’s why I want to empower people to do their own shit, grow their own food, and live better.
How would you describe the mission of your business?
Lower the cost of healthy, organic food. I want to make sure that one day it will be cheaper and more accessible to get healthy, nutritious, local food than it is to get a bag a chips and a pop. It really is possible and it has the potential to tip the scales of eating habits across the board.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced or are currently facing as a small business owner in Edmonton?
The need for funds to cover inventory and marketing. If you buy from my store, I can’t deliver until April. This really sucks and I know it’s turning potential customers away. That’s not an Edmonton specific challenge, but it’s just something that I’m sure a lot of businesses go through and it’s the situation I’m in right now.
What was the most surprisingly-easy thing about building a small business in Edmonton?
Getting a business license. I thought you had to fill out thousands of documents and hire a lawyer and jump through all these hoops. It was incredibly easy and getting proper insurance and WCB and all that other stuff is super easy to do. I thought it would be intimidating but it’s really set up to be as straightforward as possible.
Where do you see your business in the next three years?
In about three years I really hope to see the idea gaining traction and more people starting to realize how easy it is to grow your own food. Once enough people start talking about it and sharing with others I’ll hopefully be able to hire a small staff here in Edmonton to help me out.
Can you tell us one nerdy, quirky or interesting fact about yourself?
I’ve jumped out of a plane at night. It was part of the Canadian Military’s Basic Parachute program at the Canadian Land Advanced Warfare Training Centre.
Who are three of your favourite local, hidden-gem businesses in town that you think we should profile and why?
I honestly don’t get out much at all and most places I can mention are already well known. My favourite places though would be the Princess / Garneau theatres, Remedy Cafés, and the Art Gallery of Alberta. I really love movies and art so any place that has either one of those is very interesting in my books.