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Sobotka Stories: Shoots LLC

Insights from a Sobotka Seed Stage Grant Recipient


The Sobotka Stories will introduce you to former winners of the Sobotka Seed Stage Venture grants who share their experiences and perspectives. The Yale Center for Business and the Environment aspires to build a robust entrepreneurial community around sustainability ideas and is proud of its alumni.

Meet Aaron Paul (SOM/FES ’13), founder of Shoots LLC and Sobotka Seed Stage Grantee of 2013. Currently, Aaron is the Director of Energy and Broadband consulting practice in the information & technology construction company Tilson. He leads teams that advise government and private sector clients on financing, strategy, operations, and policy.

Shoots LLC marketed and sold a line of organic fertilizers engineered in the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies’ plant physiology labs between 2010 and 2012. Using path-breaking research on biophysical responses to amino acid additives, the formula, trademarked “Shoots”, was en route to be the most advanced and effective commercially available organic fertilizer, without harming the surrounding environment through nitrogen runoff and eutrophication.

In 2013 Shoots LLC was awarded the Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant. The organic fertilizer Shoots aimed to provide a natural combination to foster a healthier environment. In the early stages of venture creation, the Sobotka grant propelled Shoots to the next round of financing. As a major takeaway of his entrepreneurial experience, Aaron shares that timely financial decisions are essential to success. “Disperse the cash quickly. Speed is even more important than money in ventures.” Aaron also highlights perseverance and self-confidence as another crucial characteristic of a successful entrepreneur. As important as that is, Shoots’ founder also states the importance of “always listening to feedback from people who know more than you do."

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