Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Ecocrumb

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One-line solution summary:

Ecocrumb enables food-related small businesses to visualize, monitor, and manage their sustainability impacts across the food supply chain

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Pitch your solution.

Food systems account for over 1/3 of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the additional impacts on ecosystems and local economies. People want to make better meal choices, but understanding and tracking multiple impacts across the food chain is difficult, expensive and time consuming. Ecocrumb makes sustainable and value-based menu planning easy and transparent through its holistic scoring system and database. Caterers, cafeterias, restaurants, food packagers, etc. can quickly compare the environmental and social impacts of their ingredients and suppliers across multiple categories and designations (such as emissions, water use, organic, fair trade, minority-owned, etc.). These scores can be shared with end consumers through menus, labels, and marketing materials to drive sustainable meal choices.

With billions of meals eaten everyday, Ecocrumb has the potential to shift consumer demands and supplier markets to grow healthier food, repair ecosystems, mitigate climate change, and create a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

The global food system—which encompasses production, processing, and distribution—is responsible for 34% of GHG emissions according to the UN, and has resulted in the degradation of the environment and ecosystems. While the largest food companies have sustainability teams, researchers, and the power of influence to address some these issues, those farthest down the chain, like small food service companies and end consumers, have an especially hard time knowing how their food choices can impact the environment and society. To them, the problems are daunting and are often obscured by the complexity of our food chain. Ecocrumb wants to provide more transparency in the food system and show end users a wide range of measurable impacts and value-driven ratings to help millions of people to make more sustainable meal choices everyday.

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What is your solution?

Ecocrumb is a SaaS platform that enables smaller food companies to measure the impacts of their menus and food ingredients instantly. Our solution aggregates sustainability data across multiple dimensions to produce an impact score based on individual ingredients and supplier profiles. Chefs, caterers, and other food makers can use the platform to easily compare meals and food items based on a number of factors, such as carbon footprints, organic and fair trade certifications, food miles, etc. Through an interactive dashboard and analytics in the platform, customers can mix and match items to improve their sustainability scores. Over time, we will use AI to learn and recommend suppliers, ingredients and entire menus based on sustainability objectives (for ex., target emissions or food miles) and customer preferences.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our target demographics are smaller food service businesses and manufacturers who are (or want to be) producing and selling sustainable food options. They find it difficult to find and track sustainability information on ingredients and suppliers on their own and can't afford to hire consultants. They often rely on a chef's gut feeling, or a purchaser's knowledge about a supplier. As a result, they may make decisions based on a single aspect or label (such as local, organic, fair trade) because they have limited information to act upon. While good will has gotten them this far, growing climate change pressures and market trends are indicating that they may soon be called upon by customers or B2B accounts to provide evidence to backup their sustainability claims. In addition, these companies often need to justify their premium pricing and can have issues scaling because of limited access/choice to responsible sourcing. Ecocrumb provides sustainable food companies with the data to back up their claims, tools to rate suppliers, and a way to differentiate themselves in the market place, giving them a competitive advantage.


Ecocrumb is currently interviewing a wide variety of food industry companies (e.x., Bon Appétit) to better understand user needs and what sustainability impacts are most important for companies to measure and share with their own customers. We are collaboratively working with a few companies to help us develop and test our software, data visualizations, and scoring system. We will also work with them to test different ways of sharing this data with end consumers.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Provide scalable and verifiable monitoring and data collection to track ecosystem conditions, such as biodiversity, carbon stocks, or productivity.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

Resilient and sustainable food systems require development of sustainable agricultural practices, development of sustainable food distribution systems, creation of sustainable diets, and reduction of food waste throughout the system. Through our solution, Ecocrumb, we want to partner with food manufacturers, packagers, retailers and servers, and their suppliers (farmers, co-ops etc.) to track, monitor and manage sustainability of the entire food supply chain. In doing so, we can provide these stakeholders the tool that they need to prepare healthy and nutritious food profitably, while transparently understanding the social and environmental impacts of their choices.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Minneapolis, MN, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

We have been working closely with Chowgirls (https://www.chowgirls.net/), an award-winning “green” caterer in Minnesota that has been leading the way in sustainable events since 2004. They have spent countless hours researching suppliers and products because sustainability is at the core of their business model. They have already committed to being our first paying customer and a design partner. They have described this as a burning problem for them and are willing to work around their busy season to test and provide feedback on our product. We have since signed on a second company to help us test our product. We have spoken to dozens of food companies and close to a hundred of their customers to validate our hypothesis and business model, and are working to launch our MVP mid-summer.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Gautam Muralidharan

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
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What makes your solution innovative?

Our platform favors and promotes the farmers, producers, and vendors who are making efforts to be sustainable. It highlights practices of good land use, low food miles, renewable energy sources, fair trade, healthy soil, organic and humane farming, carbon reduction, water conservation, and biodiversity. We make the environmental impacts of the food chain more transparent through visual data and a holistic scoring system that empowers meal planners and consumers to make better sustainable choices.

Most large companies in the food industry are investing significant amounts of money to gain transparency into their supply chains. This kind of investment is beyond what most small and medium businesses in this space can afford. Currently, most of these smaller companies use very complex and manually maintained spreadsheets, handwritten notes based on tribal knowledge or hard to maintain homegrown solutions, resulting in opaque supply chains. We want to provide these establishments a powerful yet affordable tool that can provide that visibility into their suppliers and practices. Armed with this information, we expect these caterers, cafeterias, restaurants, food manufacturers to make better sustainable choices in manufacturing and preparing their food products. We expect this will drive down the 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions that are currently attributed to the food system. Additionally, since we look across several dimensions of sustainability (not just emissions), we expect positive social impacts to occur as well. For example, a caterer may decide to work with a woman-, low income-, or minority-owned farm over a more traditional choice.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Big Data
  • Biomimicry
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 14. Life Below Water
  • 15. Life on Land
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

We currently have two business customers who have signed up to use our product (a sustainable catering company and a cider brewing company). These companies will be using Ecocrumb as they prepare and serve food and beverages to hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans in the Twin Cities area.

We expect to acquire close to 100 establishments (food manufacturers, packagers, retailers, restaurants, caterers etc.) in the first year. These companies are currently serving anywhere between 500k-1M end consumers.

In 5 years we anticipate to target close to 150k establishments impacting tens or hundreds of millions of end consumers globally enjoying these sustainably prepared meals and food products.

In addition to end consumers of these food products, our product will influence the behaviors of hundreds of thousands of suppliers including farmers, community-owned cooperatives, etc. by promoting suppliers that are sustainable. For example, one of our customers, will be using our software to track their diversity objectives including BIPOC Patronage, and promoting food justice and human rights when making product sourcing decisions.

As our customer ecosystems grow, our product has the potential to influence better habits in the entire food supply chain (manufacturing, transportation, storage, processing etc.) and better the lives of billions of people in our world.

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Ecocrumb tracks suppliers and producers across many sustainability indicators such as minority-owned and organic certified (SDG #2), sustainable fishing practices (SDG#15), and Progress will be measured through adoption of more sustainable procurement and food production practices. We can start to gather feedback and conduct audits that will help us to measure demand and sourcing of more ethical and sustainable foods. This should allow us to track back through the supply chain and interview suppliers and farmers to understand the effects and if it is stimulating goals we hope to achieve. We should be able to measure adoption at our customer level and follow the supply chain to measure at the farmer/producer level and watch trends from year to year. That paired with good feedback should help us to adjust to increase our effect and avoid unintended missteps.

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

3 cofounders

Amy Dritz - https://www.linkedin.com/in/amydritz/

Craig Johnson - https://www.linkedin.com/in/00craigjohnson/

Gautam Muralidharan - https://www.linkedin.com/in/gautam-muralidharan-6455a33/

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How long have you been working on your solution?

2.5 months

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We believe we have the right and complimentary skillsets and network as a founder team to work on this problem domain. We met while doing our M.A. in Sustainable Design at MCAD. We have been friends since then (7 years) and worked on side projects. Amy and Craig own a consulting company together. We are passionate about sustainable food systems and want to prove that sustainability is a good and viable business model.

Amy Dritz is a sustainable designer and strategist. She co-founded BUOY Sustainable Strategy to help small businesses understand their ecological impacts and define priorities for improving their sustainability. She specializes in communications, user/market research, and data visualization.

Craig Johnson is a sustainable design strategist with many connections to food systems. He spent many weekends working on farms as a youth, later working in restaurants during his college years, and finally working as a professional designer and marketer on food industry projects. In addition Craig was on teams who develop projects like Fair Food Fight, Principle Six (rating system) where he helped visualize farm to fork supply chains. Skilled data visualization expert and co-founder of BUOY Sustainable Strategy.

Gautam Muralidharan is an experienced technologist and executive. Most recently Gautam was a partner in PwC's consulting practice and advised Fortune-500 boards and C-suite officers on cybersecurity and risk matters. He was responsible for generating and managing 50M in revenue and lead the software alliances business for pwc cybersecurity (~150M). He has extensive experience in B2B software sales and delivery.

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

Our current leadership team is composed of a woman and a minority. As a founder team, our core values of social justice, service, and integrity have provided the compass that has guided us thus far in our professional and personal lives. Our cofounders have lead diverse global teams and have worked with professionals from different countries and cultures. For example, one of our cofounders was the diversity leader for his entire business unit in the US for about 3000 employees. We are committed to continuing to pursue these efforts to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion at Ecocrumb by hiring and leveraging employees, and serving customers from different backgrounds and paths of life. It is our policy and promise to grant equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination to all team members and applicants. We are committed to providing equal opportunity in all areas of employment including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, assignments, transfers, promotions, demotions, compensation, benefits, working conditions and training. We seek to select the best-qualified individuals based upon job related qualifications, regardless of any protected group status under local, state and federal law. Ecocrumb does not tolerate any form of discrimination based on protected status, workplace harassment or retaliation. Ecocrumb provides equal employment opportunity to all employees and applicants without regard to an individual's protected status: race/ethnicity, color, national origin, ancestry, sex/gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, marital/parental status, pregnancy/childbirth or related conditions, religion, creed, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, or any other protected status.

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)
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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

The impact of bringing transparency to the food supply chain are far reaching and global. There is an opportunity to reduce the negative environmental effects like food related GHG (18 Gt CO2 equivalent per year globally per Nature.com) by giving food manufacturers, packagers and servers the data and insight they desperately need. However, for a small startup like ours to succeed, we will need all the support, resources, and brain power we can get access to. We believe Solve gives us that.

By getting access to its network of highly accomplished peer teams, advisors, and thought leaders, we think we can solve some of our challenges. For example, we want to look at how past solvers have managed to successfully bring communities and commercial enterprises together and incentivize them to change their business models and practices for the greater good.

We also want to work with MIT's rich network of technical researchers to understand how we should go about implementing AI ethically and in a responsible manner, being mindful of privacy, bias, morality, and human rights. We would also seek advice on ethical business practices that we can then share with our customers. For example, we want our software platform to provide our customers a path to sustianability while balancing profitablity using ethical practices. Too many products in this space make sustainability a 'check the box' exercise. We could use some help in designing our software to create positive organizational and community behaviors.

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development, etc.)
  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)
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Please explain in more detail here.

We are an early-stage startup that could really benefit from the mentor-ship and coaching from Solve and MIT's exhaustive network of advisors, entrepreneurs and partners. We are also looking for help with pitching and getting introduced to investors and other sources of capital.

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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

Our software relies on AI and food supply chain data to make determinations on impact level. To this end, we would be interested in talking to organizations, partners and faculty who specialize on topics like AI applications to sustainability, life cycle analysis, food systems, sustainability of supply chains and developing decision support tools for organizations and institutions to integrate sustainability metrics into decision/policy-making processes.

For example, we would like to learn from the MIT Office of Sustainability's work with Food systems and how they are building a sustainable campus food system.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GM Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The GM Prize to advance your solution?

Resilient and sustainable food systems require development of sustainable agricultural practices, development of sustainable food distribution systems, creation of sustainable diets and reduction of food waste throughout the system. Through our solution, Ecocrumb, we want to partner with food manufacturers, packagers, retailers and servers, and their suppliers (farmers, co-ops etc.) to track, monitor and manage sustainability of the entire food supply chain. In doing so, we can provide these stakeholders the tool that they need to prepare healthy and nutritious food profitably while transparently understanding the social and environmental impacts of their choices.

We are a bootstrapped startup right now and the founders plan on doing most of the product design and development initially. We expect to launch our MVP without external capital. The prize money would provide much needed capital infusion to continue product and business development after we have launched the MVP. Specifically, we expect to immediately hire engineers for product development. We have a good network of advisors. Between that and getting access to Solve's network, we expect to get subject matter input at a low cost to the business. We also have friends who are experienced in startup marketing and sales willing to provide us assistance at discounted rates when that becomes a need to reach a broader audience.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Minderoo Prize to End Global Overfishing? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use the Minderoo Prize to End Global Overfishing to advance your solution?

Resilient and sustainable food systems require development of sustainable agricultural practices, development of sustainable food distribution systems, creation of sustainable diets and reduction of food waste throughout the system. Through our solution, Ecocrumb, we want to partner with food manufacturers, packagers, retailers and servers, and their suppliers (farmers, co-ops etc.) to track, monitor and manage sustainability of the entire food supply chain. In doing so, we can provide these stakeholders the tool that they need to prepare healthy and nutritious food profitably while transparently understanding the social and environmental impacts of their choices.

We are a bootstrapped startup right now and the founders plan on doing most of the product design and development initially. We expect to launch our MVP without external capital. The prize money would provide much needed capital infusion to continue product and business development after we have launched the MVP. Specifically, we expect to immediately hire engineers for product development. We have a good network of advisors. Between that and getting access to Solve's network, we expect to get subject matter input at a low cost to the business. We also have friends who are experienced in startup marketing and sales willing to provide us assistance at discounted rates when that becomes a need to reach a broader audience.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ServiceNow Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The ServiceNow Prize to advance your solution?

Food systems account for over 1/3 of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the additional impacts on ecosystems and local economies. People want to make better meal choices, but understanding and tracking multiple impacts across the food chain is difficult, expensive and time consuming. Ecocrumb makes sustainable and value-based menu planning easy and transparent through its holistic scoring system and database. Caterers, cafeterias, restaurants, food packagers, etc. can quickly compare the environmental and social impacts of their ingredients and suppliers across multiple categories and designations (such as emissions, water use, organic, fair trade, minority-owned, etc.). These scores can be shared with end consumers through menus, labels, and marketing materials to drive sustainable meal choices.

With billions of meals eaten every day, Ecocrumb has the potential to shift consumer demands and supplier markets to grow healthier food, repair ecosystems, mitigate climate change, and create a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

We are a bootstrapped startup right now and the founders plan on doing most of the product design and development initially. We expect to launch our MVP without external capital. The prize money would provide much needed capital infusion to continue product and business development after we have launched the MVP. Specifically, we expect to immediately hire engineers for product development. We have a good network of advisors. Between that and getting access to Solve's network, we expect to get subject matter input at a low cost to the business. We also have friends who are experienced in startup marketing and sales willing to provide us assistance at discounted rates when that becomes a need to reach a broader audience.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The AI for Humanity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The AI for Humanity Prize to advance your solution?

Resilient and sustainable food systems require development of
sustainable agricultural practices, development of sustainable food
distribution systems, creation of sustainable diets and reduction of
food waste throughout the system. Through our solution, Ecocrumb, we
want to partner with food manufacturers, packagers, retailers and
servers, and their suppliers (farmers, co-ops etc.) to track, monitor
and manage sustainability of the entire food supply chain. In doing so,
we can provide these stakeholders the tool that they need to prepare
healthy and nutritious food profitably while transparently understanding
the social and environmental impacts of their choices. Over time, we
will use AI to learn and recommend suppliers, ingredients and entire
menus based on sustainability objectives (for ex., target emissions or
food miles) and customer preferences.

We are a bootstrapped startup right now and the founders plan on doing
most of the product design and development initially. We expect to
launch our MVP without external capital. The prize money would provide
much needed capital infusion to continue product and business
development after we have launched the MVP. Specifically, we expect to
immediately hire engineers for product development. We have a good
network of advisors. Between that and getting access to Solve's network,
we expect to get subject matter input at a low cost to the business. We
also have friends who are experienced in startup marketing and sales
willing to provide us assistance at discounted rates when that becomes a
need to reach a broader audience.

Add a comment

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GSR Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The GSR Prize Prize to advance your solution?

Resilient and sustainable food systems require development of

sustainable agricultural practices, development of sustainable food
distribution systems, creation of sustainable diets and reduction of
food waste throughout the system. Through our solution, Ecocrumb, we
want to partner with food manufacturers, packagers, retailers and
servers, and their suppliers (farmers, co-ops etc.) to track, monitor
and manage sustainability of the entire food supply chain. In doing so,
we can provide these stakeholders the tool that they need to prepare
healthy and nutritious food profitably while transparently understanding
the social and environmental impacts of their choices. Over time, we
will use AI to learn and recommend suppliers, ingredients and entire
menus based on sustainability objectives (for ex., target emissions or
food miles) and customer preferences.

We are a bootstrapped startup right now and the founders plan on doing
most of the product design and development initially. We expect to
launch our MVP without external capital. The prize money would provide
much needed capital infusion to continue product and business
development after we have launched the MVP. Specifically, we expect to
immediately hire engineers for product development. We have a good
network of advisors. Between that and getting access to Solve's network,
we expect to get subject matter input at a low cost to the business. We
also have friends who are experienced in startup marketing and sales
willing to provide us assistance at discounted rates when that becomes a
need to reach a broader audience.

Add a comment

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Solution Team

 
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