Planting the Seeds: How IoT and Hydroponics are Transforming the Future of Urban Farming

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What if we told you that there is a garden that happens to be smart, environmentally friendly, bold enough to be a future-shaping startup of its own, and small enough to fit in your home?

Enter CityCrop: The Accelerator 2016 finalist that has actually figured out the easiest and most innovative way to grow fresh and healthy food at home. What does the startup employ to do so? Smart technologies, hydroponics, and a team thirsty for business growth. If you want to find out more about how this exciting new venture is re-shaping urban farming, read on!

Planting Seeds Through Smart Technologies and IoT

In January 2015, a report called “Towards smart farming – Agriculture embracing the IoT vision” was published. Its focus: how agricultural operations are changing through the Internet of Things. According to the report, the aim of the agricultural sector should be to optimize processes and the use of its resources. And the Internet of Things was deemed as an excellent vehicle to enable this goal, as it can increase production and –more importantly– the quality of the crop.

In fact, the report’s main author, Saverio Romeo would go on as far as to support “I would like to highlight the fact that the aim should not be ‘industrializing’ agriculture, but make agriculture more efficient, sustainable, and of high quality. We should not look for revolutions. We should look for re-interpretation of the farming practices through the use of data-centric technologies.

We do not know if CityCrop had actually read this report before developing the first fully automated indoor garden, their venture certainly resonates its innovation spirit farmed in its core!

Sowing the Seeds for a Global and Transformative Business

CityCrop is a startup aiming at modernizing and democratizing farming, as key to a healthier and greener living. To join the green… evolution, the team knew it had to work smart – literally smart.

“Using the hydroponics method and smart IoT technologies, the CityCrop device controls temperature, humidity, lighting, and air quality to secure that the plants take all the necessary nutrients they need straight from the water”, explains Christos Raftogiannis, Co-founder, and CEO of CityCrop. “And there is more to it: users can monitor cultivation, step-by-step, simply by connecting any smart device to the CityCrop garden”, continues Raftogiannis.

As such, the CityCrop device and mobile app allows users to grow fresh and healthy food 3x faster than usual all year long as well as control and monitor their crop with just a click of a button. “In other words, it’s the easiest way to grow your own fresh and healthy food at home”, adds Evriviades Makridis, Co-founder and COO at CityCrop.

What makes CityCrop even more unique is not just its innovative methods; the team supports a greater -and greener- vision. “Our business concept is based on the growing global concern for the current methods of farming and an active movement towards healthier lifestyle. So, we created CityCrop with people like us in mind; that is, people interested in a healthier diet and lifestyle for themselves and their families. We are giving these people an innovative way to grow their own food and update their daily eating routines”, says Makridis .

The Jacks of the Magic Beans – The Team Behind CityCrop

CityCrop can showcase a solid team behind its device. In fact, since its original inception and set-up, the venture employs the minds of not one, but six ambitious and success-driven people, all with a valuable role in the team.

Apart from the two founding fathers of CityCrop, that is Chris Raftogiannis and Evriviades Makridis, the team is composed by tech and platform designer George Kokosioulis, hardware engineer Dimitris Barmpakos, product designer Nota Tsekoura, and software engineer Giannis Triandafillos.

At CityCrop we think that the most important thing besides a great idea is the team. Each member of the team counts years of experience in their respective fields and shares the vision and passion that led to the founding CityCrop”, states Makridis.


A Time to Reap, a Time to Sow: Accelerating towards Seed Funding

So with the seeds already sown and their prototype ready, the team explored joining The Accelerator 2016 to kickstart its growth and enjoy the targeted growth training and mentoring, unrivaled networking opportunities, and direct access to market and tech industry leaders and engaged investors on top of the pre-seed investment granted by Metavallon.

The team had the chance to get a taste of business acceleration the Metavallon way. And its fruits were sweet. “The Accelerator 2016 Launch Bootcamp was another way to measure our abilities and readiness in terms of scaling up”, reflects Makridis. “We had the chance to examine and play up our pitching and organization skills. What is even more important, through it, we identified certain obstacles standing on our way to business growth ”, Raftogiannis concludes.

Any lessons learnt? Of course there were. “In terms of business development, experience is paramount in recognizing the right time to take the next -big or small- steps. Creating a strong right team is always a critical part of the process of setting up any startup or business. Entering an acceleration program, like the one provided by Metavallon, ranks a close second. The entire process tests your willingness and ability to rapidly adapt and radically change your business setup, if needed, in order to scale up fast”, Makridis shares.

Harvesting the Crops of Success

As of June 2016, the team has joined Metavallon’s Startup Network. “We used the feedback we took from The Accelerator’s Launch Bootcamp and put it to the test in our upcoming acceleration-related endeavors. Shortly after that, we applied for and were eventually invited to join Startupbootcamp IoT|Connected Devices in London, UK”, says Raftogiannis.

To us, this is another testament of where innovative ideas and determination can do. And with CityCrop working on cutting-edge smart technologies, it is time for the team to reap the seeds of their hard work along with the reported $18,45 billion that the smart farming market will amount to internationally by the year 2022.


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