Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Gold D. Hood, the founder and CEO of FULL. Let’s learn what’s happening at FULL and how Gold is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi Gold, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through FULL?
Gold: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Good quality fresh food is expensive, and if you live in a city, it can be very hard to find. A lot of our climate and human health problems come down to one thing: we separated how we live from nature. FULL is putting nature back into our lives. We put gardens into and onto our rooftops, walls, and lawns, and we keep them running with technology that basically makes Animal Crossing real. We're aiming to give everyone the opportunity to be FULL with fresh, quality food, a place to make friends, and a future on this planet. What's extra awesome? Our approach also makes it easier and cheaper to heat and cool your homes and schools, which means we've got the boring checkmark adults need to say yes to something that's good for everybody.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Gold: Our founding team experienced food insecurity first hand when we were young. We know our systems are willing to let people go hungry and make the planet inhabitable for humans as long as they think it won't impact them. We're not those people, and we're building a new system, a better system. We're passionate about creating a world where what we went through feels as ancient and unbelievable as medieval punishment, because that's how history gets better—when we stop accepting that things are what they are. They aren't. They are what we make them.
Spiffy: You’re absolutely right! How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Gold: Our garden model is focused on community! We want everyone to be able to participate in a garden and have equitable access to high-quality fresh food. We also hire equitably and diversely around the world to make sure we understand problems outside of our own backyards. Our company is also collaborative. If you had a small startup or nonprofit working in our space, we wouldn't compete with you like a chain store, we would work with you to help you do what you do best even better and with more security. That helps us work everywhere, from LA to remote areas in Africa, equitably, partnering with local organizations so that people keep their voice in their own communities, and we don't try to put others out of business or extract local wealth.
Spiffy: Is there a recent organization milestone or initiative you’d like to share? What impact does it make on your community?
Gold: We're really excited about an upcoming project to put gardens on school rooftops! If you want a garden, tell your principal, because we'd love to help. Some really awesome people are financially supporting the project, so it will have no cost to the school. Let's get better food in your cafeterias! (Yes, even pizza. Fresh tomatoes make pizza much better.) The plan is also to have classes up there and learn about the new way to grow food—with lots of cool technology. We want to show that there are pretty neat things you could do and be if you worked in agriculture, and we want to see delicious, healthy, free food available at school lunches.
Spiffy: Yummy! Next, please share an experience when you faced failure and didn’t give up. What did you learn from it?
Gold: Learning to not give up after you fail is really important if you want to start a business. Honestly, it's just really important in life (and it's the best reason to compete in anything in school). When we made FULL, it was actually because of a failure. We were trying to create a community to empower people to fix the planet, and we failed. Or, really, we failed at the scale we wanted. We realized that while being online was awesome, to really build a pattern, it was important to a lot of people to meet somewhere in person. The difference between failing at a sports competition (I've done that too) and in entrepreneurship is that you need to think like a scientist—all outcomes are good because you learned something. Now, learn something new.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Gold—it’s been an honor!
A 2023 Top 100 Women of the Future awardee, a 2022 International Women's Forum Rising Talent, and an Innovation Award winner—Gold D. Hood is an engineer and MBA who started college at 12 and has had 20 years as everything from university faculty to a serial tech founder developing over 200 technologies across dozens of industries. Gold is driving the change first-hand with FULL to revolutionize infrastructure and make humanity a planet-positive species. (Nominated by Kayla DiPilato at StartOut. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 7, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.