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The unique “Nanny” sensor and app that cares and engages growers through the hydroponic process

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EASYPONIC (The unique “Nanny” sensor and app that cares and engages growers through the hydroponic process)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-01-31

Hydroponics is a closed-loop food production system in a controlled environment and grows without soil, also known as soilless growing. It is a sustainable solution for meeting growing demand of food consumption, reduces water waste (+70%) and contamination, increases crop production and enhances the community environmental-care feelings. Despite advantages, the process must be professionally controlled to avoid constant losses ending of users’ disappointment.
Easyponic endeavours to scale-up a cost-effective, easy-to-use ICT based product that provides a solution to control the whole hydroponic process without having a professional knowledge of the methodology. Easyponic is based on a compacted hardware the “Nanny” that cares about the crops and automates the monitoring process by sending the user all the information and actions that should be taken though a mobile application, which engages the users through its gaming features.
Nanny is a connected monitor for hydroponic cultures. It controls all the relevant parameters of a culture and delivers the information through a mobile application. It has been designed to lower the entry barriers to hydroponic agriculture, allowing people with no experience to farm successfully. The main objectives of this study are:
● To discover and engage with our early customers
● To gain knowledge of our market
● To further define a viable business model to serve that market
● To asses the viability of the business
Modern greenhouses are adopting technologies which allow improved control of the variables involved in farming; bringing many benefits compared to traditional agriculture. The global market is being driven by the increasing demand for local food and rooftop urban farming (green cities).

Our target segment is: “electronic instruments for indoor-hydroponic crop production at micro and small sized greenhouses, up to about 1000·m 2 ”. A conservative estimation of the TAM of connected electronic devices for smart greenhouses for 2020 is €58 million (not including home systems) Today it is still a small market but it shows already signs of accelerated growth. An important number of start-ups are trying to redefine the space, and some of them have received sizable investments. The biggest and fastest growing markets are North America and Europe.
To gauge the potential of different alternatives for marketing and sales channel, we run some real market tests:
● Direct sales channel: we used direct sales and digital marketing to find and engage with our early customers and direct them to our sales page. The channel worked, but more slowly than expected.
● Early customers: the test attracted both the expected profiles:
○ B2B: hydroponic urban farmers.
○ B2C: urban growers and hydroponic amateurs.
● Long sales channel: we started a sales campaign targeting European distributors. We have many interested companies, but sold our first units four months later. Again sales happened but slower than desired.
Our conclusions are that even with a product that appeal to our customers, we still have not found a viable business. The possible causes are:
● The market segment is too small and/or at a very early stage of development.
● High price of the product compared to low-end substitutes.
● Poor marketing execution.