An extraordinary story of upside-down innovation
When Goncalo, a robotic engineer, Joao and Eduardo, UI designers and Liliana, a civil engineer, met for their weekly friendly dinner at the kitchen table, they never thought they would transform the way farmers manage their crops in a greenhouse. None of them had any farming knowledge. Like many of their generation they were concerned by the future of the planet and the quality of the food they put on their table and ate. When talented brains start to storm in a happy trusting environment wild ideas arise and cool stuff happens.
Appealing to their own field of expertise the trio started devising a system that would control every step of vegetal growth. Not knowing about agriculture did not seem an obstacle. After all it was a matter of input and output. Providing you could define the right algorithm, a user-friendly interface leveraging the embedded AI nothing was impossible.
The testing and prototyping started with growing plants in a fridge. The trio was soon ready to contact an accelerator and go the next step. Beta-i in Lisbon accepted to be part of the adventure and recommended that they focus on a B2B approach. The future success depended on the quality of the data feed. The project now named CoolFarm hired a full time biologist who, for one entire year, captured and formatted the data that would fuel the AI of the solution. At the same time the team was fine tuning the quality of the interface and its ease of use exactly like you would do for any app. Even if you, like myself, do not know much about agriculture, you are aware of automated irrigation systems, temperature monitoring and the like. So what was so ground breaking with CoolFarm ?
Through the AI and the machine learning CoolFarm brought integration of all these existing systems currently operating in silos. Focusing on the data layer in the cloud the solution can integrate data coming from multiple sources from air control to multiple sensors. It became a one stop shop for the farmer. Thanks to the mobile device and the user friendly interface, the farmers keep their empowerment. They make their farming decisions leveraging ever enriching analytics and an intuitive interface. CoolFarm solution can be compared with a sophisticated farming recipe book, you can change parameters and also monitor live the impact of your decision.
In May 2015 Business Angels started investing and early adopters loved CoolFarm which provided a true digital experience for precision agriculture. You can see how CoolFarm website the prizes they won, where they are implemented and being distributed https://www.cool-farm.com/
The key take aways from CoolFarm amazing achievement :
- Complementary talents came together with a common goal they believed in. Passion needs skills and talent.
- User interface and design was at the start of the project. Customer experience has to be the heart of the solution.
- Scientific rigor was applied throughout the project. When you serve professionals demonstrate professionalism.
- They listened and adjusted. Keep your strategy adjust the tactics.
They demonstrated patience and tenacity during two long years of sacrifice until the first BA investment. Grits and hard work will often make the difference.
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