David Rosenberg, Entrepreneur and Innovator at the Forefront of Sustainable Food Production

Lessons in How to Build a Business that You Believe In
By HC Staff | October 20, 2023

David Rosenberg’s passion is to develop sustainable food production, building and leading multiple companies by tapping technology, biological principles, and data to create new food sources and maximize production using fewer environmental resources. 

This interdisciplinary approach, combined with his foundation in finance and his life-long engagement in and study of philosophy, has led him to a place of doing well by doing good.

During his talk, “Building Solutions to Address Our Food Challenges,” Mr. Rosenberg shared with the Honors and campus community, including students enrolled in The Forum, our mission-based required course, the focus of three ventures he is involved with—AeroFarms, an agtech company that builds and operates advanced vertical farms growing vegetables and fruits, which he co-founded and led for 10 years; Aspire, the world leader in insect proteins, for which he is a board member; and Every Company, the leader in non-animal based egg proteins manufactured through precision fermentation, for which he is Chairman of the Board.

“It is easier to build a company with a problem in mind that needs to be solved than building a technology and then finding a problem to apply it. I’ve gotten involved in agriculture and food for the last ten+ years as the macro-environment of population growth coupled with the depletion of the natural resources suggest we have massive problems to solve and maybe there are some amazing Rutgers students that will solve them,”

said Mr. Rosenberg.

“Mr. Rosenberg demonstrated to our students the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and how his choices are serving the world,” said J.D. Bowers, Dean of the Honors College.

Mr. Rosenberg’s educational and professional journey was circuitous and multidimensional, and all his experiences led him to where he is now. When he was young, his mother, a medical ethicist, would engage him during dinner through Socratic debate, exploring assertions with questions and ultimately encouraging critical thinking. Their discussions inspired him to major in philosophy in college, an interest that has remained with him and informed him in his professional life. 

After college, he held various jobs, including as a financial analyst on Wall Street. It wasn’t until he was 25 years of age after a friend inspired him with his entrepreneurial endeavors that he determined what he wanted to do.

As he pursued entrepreneurship, he spent time in Israel, a country with a huge and passionate start-up culture. His takeaway from his experiences there were two-fold—1) we make decisions all the time with imperfect information so expect lively debate to get to the truth and assume that all involved in the debate have the right intentions, and 2) create a culture of debate where everyone is free to engage and recognize that people in positions of less power are often smarter than the boss. He carries these tenets wherever he goes.

Now a serial entrepreneur, Mr. Rosenberg has shared his knowledge as a previous member of the World Economic Forum where he co-founded and co-chaired the Young Global Leaders Circular Economy Taskforce and was a member of the Global IoT Council, the New Vision for Agriculture, and the Global Agenda Counsel on Water. He has also served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the B20, advising the G20 on Resource Efficiency. 

The trick in building a business, he says, is to first create something that people actually want, then determine if the economics work and how to scale up the business systematically. And, importantly, make sure that what you’re doing has a mission that excites you. He encourages all future entrepreneurs to have a strong foundation in finance and to do what they love. And central to his business life is his philosophy background—to this day, he calls his mother to talk things through and get at the center of what he believes.

Mr. Rosenberg’s talk was part of the Navesink Wealth Management Endowed Honors College Annual Lecture Series. Through Navesink Wealth Management’s support, the Honors College invites speakers who are focused on providing an inspiring vision of leading-edge technology, creative business innovation, and powerful social purpose. 

During the time that Mr. Rosenberg served as CEO of AeroFarms, the company was listed on Fast Company’s 2019 Most Innovative Companies, Inc.’s 25 Most Disruptive Companies, and Time’s 2019 Best Inventions. AeroFarms received the inaugural Global SDG Award for Zero Hunger and received The Ethical Corporation’s 2019 Responsible Business Award in Sustainable Innovation. He received his BA from UNC Chapel Hill and holds an MBA from Columbia University. He competed for the U.S. in fencing where he was a finalist at a world cup and represented the NYAC, winning three U.S. National Team Fencing Championships and two individual silver medals.