View Full Version : Where is the money in AP ???

07-07-2013, 01:18 PM
Simple Question, probably not so simple answer?

I have my own theory, but it is just that Theory, maybe some of you with more time in the field (so to speak, or should i say time by grow bed) have a better one, or different one.

My observations:
People who are making a living with AP ( or claim to be, no I am not skeptical, ok maybe a little) as far as I can tell are not just relying on the income from the produce and/or fish. The people I see, who are profitable are selling equipment, selling how-to books, selling consultations, selling seminars, etc. I am not saying there is anything wrong with any of this, just stating what I see.
Is there money only in the produce, if there is no fish market in your area, or the fish sell at a loss? I think it probably goes without saying there is no money if the fish are your only market and you are throwing your produce away?
Assuming an alternative income is needed to supplement the produce and fish? Is there sufficient room for more people selling equipment, selling books, selling seminars and training in AP??
Do not get me wrong, I think AP is a good thing, so far I see a lot of potential for a business profit, but I am a realist. I personally do not see a profit only selling the produce at a profit and the fish at a break even or slight loss (this seems to be the general plan of those I have talked to) without bringing in another income stream from some of the other things mentioned.

Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way, but I see the profit in AP in the support mechanisms, such as building systems, greenhouses or giving training, seminars?? Of course you still need a commercially viable farm to convince people it all works and you know what you are doing.

07-07-2013, 05:43 PM
Simple answer...it's not in the fish.

We had Tim Mann and Susan Friend come from Friendly's aquaponics to help with a fund raiser, about a month ago. When they were here, they said they lose about 2$ a pound on thier fish.

I went to a small farm's conferance put on by the FL ag dept and FL U. One of the aquaculture spaeakers, said that in pond raising of catfish....that just 'one penny' of cost per pound on fish food could make or break a farmer.
Turns out the farmers that live closest to where the fish food is made, have the best chance of making money. Because thier feed cost is less.

They went on talking about finding niche markets....
One was the raising of pond plants here in FL. Any time the state or local govts do road work or install parking lots...retention ponds must be put in and certain plants must be planted.
Another example they gave, was a farmer was raising some kind of an aquatic worm, that med students cut up, to learn and study how nerves work.

07-07-2013, 06:10 PM
Well, I guess you visited with them a few weeks before I did in Tennessee. I do not see the fish as a big profit market. I see that there can be some local sales of live fish for consumption and also for stocking of local ponds as sport fish (stocking ponds in the spring, the winter here would kill what was not caught) Is there enough of a sales market here in my area to make the fish portion make a profit?? I just do not know. I kinda see the fish as a necessary evil in a way. Similar to other industries where you purchase x to make the final product y, because without x you cannot get to y. I see myself possibly selling/setting up some small backyard type systems in my area. People will not want to buy a system, then have me tell them "Now it is up to you to find you some fish for it, Bye"!! As with my other business I cannot get the business, then get the product. I must first have the product to offer for sell, then see if the market is truly there. This is the risk of starting a business, to me. I am not saying go in blind, you make the best guess you can based on market research, but in the end, only having the product actually available for sale will tell you the truth about the market.

07-07-2013, 06:47 PM
Is there a reason you can't secure clientele for your product BEFORE you take the enormous financial risk?

07-08-2013, 04:22 AM
Can I get people who say they are interested, Yes. Am I going to be able to get people to commit to something that is not there? I would not!! I personally have seen to many times people with good intentions to offer goods or service, just were not able to deliver, to invest my dollars in something someone PLANS to do. I would not ask others to do something I myself am not willing to do.
In my other business I had request for a certain product, but I did not have the equipment to provide it. I finally had to make the investment to buy the equipment, based on my idea that there would indeed be enough business to make it pay. People did not want to hand over there money for something I am planning to do, or planning to offer,even though I had a proven track record of providing other services. The same in my mind holds true for AP. Can you ask people if you started growing veggies and fish would they be interested in buying XYZ for $$$ amount, and they will give you an answer. This you can base your decision on. Can I get people to sign a contract and promise money for something I PLAN to deliver in the future. Like I said I would not, so I do not have that expectation of others.

07-08-2013, 06:07 AM
I understand. Indeed, it's hard to get pre-orders. Any type of sales is hard, that's why we hire experts to do it, usually. However, why not start with friends and family? They normally buy veggies and things. Just ask them, "once you have the veggies will they be willing to buy them from you instead of WallyWorld?" Kind of thing. I'm not sure how large of an operation you have in mind. My best suggestion for you is to sit down and work through putting together a business plan. DO THE RESEARCH. DO THE CRITICAL THINKING. LEARN. PREPARE. A lot of the questions you are asking are usually answered in this process... You are asking the right questions; so, that's a positive. See the business planning through to the end if you want to do it right.

07-08-2013, 05:13 PM
Thanks for the input. Yes, I am more thinking out loud right now. My plans are a small 150' to 300' system in a small Chinese style greenhouse, should get it built next month, along with a 80' mobile unit, I am hoping in time for the county fair this fall?? If all goes well and research and marketing tests do well through the winter, an additional 30x60 greenhouse in the spring and expand to a total of around 3000' DWR grow space for next summer.
My two biggest concerns is energy efficiency in the heating through the winter, and what fish I am going use??( but I am working on the fish) I do not see an opportunity in my area for a small size operation making meaningful income. I will need a complete system indoor/outdoor in order to meet my expectations, as far as a business income. I am just not seeing a substantial income from produce sales alone, without some other inputs from building systems, training seminars and basically helping others get a start, by providing the things needed. This early in the game of AP I think that is what will make the difference, in financially being viable, multiple income streams.
AP is still new in a lot of ways. I gladly paid for books videos and drove 10 hours for a week long seminar, would I have paid to have obtained the knowledge closer, absolutely. I have orders in for materials from all over the place. Would I have went to a local AP supplier and got everything I needed,if it were available, Absolutely.
My other business brings in income because I provide a premium service, that is not available elsewhere. If you provide something that benefits people, with the idea of providing something beneficial first !, Then the return will come. This is not to say, it does not require sound financial planning. I am just saying our first goal in developing ANY business if we are ethical, should be to provide something truly of benefit to others. I will be honest, if after spending the money to build my system, I was to come to the conclusion, that AP simply did not work, I would not be very ethical to continue to sell people AP STUFF, knowing it would not really be a benefit to them. I think this gets back to my original premise. Show people you can provide them a truly premium product that they will benefit from, and they will gladly pay a premium price. Key word, being SHOW them , not just tell them.

Aloha Don
07-08-2013, 09:36 PM
The questions asked seem to be part of the risk taking involved in ANY small business.
In order to be successful, you have to provide a product that is in need in the community in which you operate. If there is not currently a need, and you still want to produce, then you have to make others feel that they cant live without your product. (marketing). I believe there IS money to be made in AP but we must be willing to put in the work, provide consistent quality and quantity of produce and make sure your name and products are advertised everywhere you go....
I am researching starting a business here in Hawaii. 80-90% of produce is shipped in and costs are rising. I think it is the time to build and grow more....

07-09-2013, 07:14 AM
I agree with your assessment. I also think a key feature of an AP business will be to actually be able to consistently provide the amount of produce promised. This is why I think a small system would be risky, where a person was counting on 90% or 100% success to meet the expected demand. Farming is farming, and just like any other crop a person can expect some loses. This is what really makes mono cropping an even riskier business. I think you will only be able to not deliver so many times (not many) and your customer will start looking elsewhere. There fore your system has to be well established and you must have some kind of track record to know what you can and cannot provide,