Daniel Adams of Earthineer

Earthineer is a social media site that connects survivalists, naturalists and anyone else who has a particularly intimate connection to the planet. By focusing on the finer points of the day-to-day trials shared by many, this site allows rookie gardeners to reap the knowledge of wizened experts with the greenest of thumbs. Started by Daniel Adams, this website opens up a whole new community to budding homesteaders who are looking to increase their self-sufficiency potential.  

How is Earthineer beneficial to its users?
As I'm currently working on new features, the answer will be different a few months from now. But currently, it provides a niche site with topics all relevant to sustainable living and homesteading, along with a friendly group of experts on topics ranging from gardening to canning and preserving to beer and wine making, and keeping livestock.

How did you come up with the idea for Earthineer?
I've been a homesteader for over eight years now, and have been a speaker at the Mother Earth News Fair on topics like DIY solar panels and bokashi composting. Earthineer started by combining what I did for a living (programming) with what I was interested in.

The original idea had been to develop a trading application. My own goal had been to grow and produce most of what I consumed. In order to do that, I'd have to be a full-time farmer, so I needed a way to trade for what I didn't produce. Much of this is occuring already—people organize food swaps, seed swaps and plant swaps. They trade with their neighbors for what they need. What I want to do is widen that network.

This isn't just a rural activity, it's an urban one as well. Anyone that has a garden, cans produce, keeps backyard chickens or bees, or save seeds can participate.

What local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I had the good fortune of being accepted into the INKUBATOR program. It works as a feeder to local accelerators and investment groups, but you get all of the classes and education that you would expect out of an accelerator. It put me in touch with people who have been instrumental—people like Naashom Marx (who helped me apply to KSTC for a grant) and Warren Nash (as director of the ICC in Lexington, Warren made the right introductions that allowed me to pitch to investment groups like the Bluegrass Angels), Tim Metzner from Differential (I work with Differential now, and Tim introduced me to Gerard Sychay, who has taken the lead on programming) and Jamie Harrison from Wood & Lamping (who has become more than a mentor, he now serves on my management board). I credit the INKUBATOR and the education and resources it provided with any success that I have. For me, the program was truly transformative.

What would you do differently if you started your business again?
There are a few things that I'd do differently, but at the top of the list would be this—I wouldn't go the "solo entrepreneur" route. As your startup gains traction and momentum, it's too much responsibility for one person to manage (programming, technical support, marketing, sales and funding).

What’s next for you and your company?
We're releasing a new version (by the time this sees print, it's likely that we'll have launched the new site). We've closed the minimum on our first investment round, so we're working on closing the remainder to accelerate the business.  

In short order, we'll be releasing a series of new features, including the new "trading" platform.

Interview by Sean Peters