China feeds nearly a quarter of the globe’s people on just 7 percent of its arable land. However, there are many problems in agriculture in China. According to FAO/OECD 2013 report, China’s cultivated land area has decreased rapidly and the quality of cultivated land is also deteriorating with 70% in low-yield farmland. China’s policy priorities focus on improving agricultural production capacity as well as ensuring food quality and safety.
These problems are also the inspiration behind N.thing, which aims to develop IoT products designed to improve the quality of food consumption. N.thing’s first product, Planty is an internet-connected smart garden pot that helps people to grow their own plants. Planty’s Kickstarter project has now gathered more than half of its goal of $100,000, and will be open until Sat, May 23.
“If your plant died, it’s one of two reasons. Either you put in too much affection or too little. We notify you with an alarm to let you know when to water the plant. You can water the plant even when you’re out on a business trip, with our smart pot.”
Embedded with algorithm to learn more about the perfect conditions for a plant, Planty helps you learn how to grow plants. It provides functions including remote watering, analyzing ecosystem data and assessing user behavior collected from the device. The company is currently in the process of patenting their technology, pot, structure, design, and algorithm. The core technology lies in the hardware, where software seamlessly integrates with its pot.
“One of our competitors is producing automated plant watering pot, but it’s not connected to the internet and largely depends on climatic conditions. Since we wanted to let people enjoy and participate in the plant growing process, we didn’t make Planty as an automated pot.” Kim said.
The company received US$25,000 seed funding from Sparklabs accelerator and US$100,000 from Mousq Angel Club (funded to memebox), followed by government matching funds summing up a total of US$350,000.
The idea originated with CEO Leo Kim’s experience in participating in the cultivation. “When I incorporated a joint venture to start a greenhouse business in Uzbekistan, we grew tomatoes in the greenhouse. The first year’s crop flourished, but it failed in the second year. The reason was because the horticulturist who joined the team, was unable to help us in the second year. I realized then, it’s more about know-how that you make the plant thrive and grow. If technology could automate the intelligence of the horticulturist, anyone would be able to grow plants regardless of where they live.”
Headquartered in Delaware, the mobile app is 98% foreign-used, mostly accessed through organic search or by word-of-mouth. Kim said that he is receiving inquiries from a lot of overseas agricultural companies in Australia and Europe.
As a part of D.CAMP chosen top ten ‘Geeks from Gangnam’, the team will be participating in TechCrunch Shanghai 2015 as well as visiting Shenzhen’s hardware companies. “We aim to find manufacture company and distribution channel in China and secure series A funding. Planty is aimed for beginners to grow plants, but we aim to go out into farmland for larger cultivation and a bigger market,” Kim said.
Image Credit: N.thing