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Apr 11, 2019 Business Administration Student

Earnest Earth working to eliminate agricultural waste

Gabe Price is pumped to start selling products in stores.

Price is CEO of Earnest Earth, a University of Illinois-based startup that produces bioreactors, which eliminate agricultural waste by converting it into biofertilizer. Price, a Lynn Center, Illinois, native who grew up around farms near the Quad Cities, will start selling Earnest Earth’s first product—$5 bags of two-pound vermicompost—in the Teske Pet & Garden store in Moline starting this spring.

Earnest Earth“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Price, whose company incorporated in July 2018. “This is the first of multiple products that we’ll be selling. We provide small farms with bioreactors that break down this waste in to nutrient-rich fertilizer.”

Price, a PhD student who studies soil and microbes at the University of Illinois, is developing his products at the iVenture Accelerator, a program run out of Illinois’ Gies College of Business and open to all Illinois students. The iVenture Accelerator supports student-led startups with knowledge, funding, and access to world-class University of Illinois resources and alumni.

Price meets with advisors up to twice a week to discuss customer acquisition techniques and formulate Earnest Earth’s marketing and growth strategy in a sustainable manner.

“Gies and iVenture have helped me build my business a great deal,” Price said. “I’m a scientist who had no business experience, so working with advisors has been extremely helpful.”

Price’s current business partner, Eddy Mejia, is Earnest Earth’s Chief Growth Officer. Mejia, a Schaumburg native who’s currently earning his MBA at Gies College of Business, met Price through the iVenture Accelerator and officially started at Earnest Earth in January.

“I came on board Earnest Earth because I truly believe we can make a positive impact on the agricultural industry and give back to people and the environment,” said Mejia, an Army veteran. “Getting our products in stores is an exciting milestone for us, and we can’t wait until people see what we have to offer, as well as start giving back to local farmers.”

Price said other products like his exist in the market, but Earnest Earth’s stand apart from competitors because they eventually will be able to engineer the microbes in their fertilizer.

“We will do this using computers, sensors, and algorithms to infuse microbe blends into our bioreactors during optimal conditions,” Price said.

Price said Earnest Earth has developed a potting soil based from their fertilizer that should be ready for sale at local farmers markets and through Earnest Earth’s website starting later this year. Upon earning his PhD, expected in 2021, Price will focus solely on Earnest Earth.

“This business will become my full-time priority,” Price said. “I want to use the research from my doctorate and help build this company out and make it my own and continue to grow it. My goal for this company is to help farms and help manage waste in a very sustainable manner, and to have a full-fledged company that will sustain numerous employees. Eventually we want to scale it so we are handling industrial-sized agricultural waste and still producing high-quality fertilizer.”

For more information on Earnest Earth, visit https://www.earneste.com/.