Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home | AgriTech Startup Idea

Sourav Paul

This Agritech Startup Idea from the 1001 startup ideas collection of YoStartups,  is to develop a Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home. The startup would develop and install the systems in apartment balconies and rooftops at independent buildings. The startup aims to increase the efficiency in agriculture, reduce the water and land use for growing food, and make the home environments green. Overall, the carbon footprint of daily living reduces.

Market Definition | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

As per Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), each year, 33% of all food produced for human consumption in the world is wasted, and this wastage utilises around 1.4 billion hectares of land. Improper supply chain and lack of primary facility to store the produce is one of the main reasons for the wastage. While investing in cold storage facilities and developing a robust and efficient supply chain can reduce this wastage, growing food at the point-of-use, altogether eliminates the carbon footprint from the storage and transportation of food.

Competitor Analysis  | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

Phytoponics is a company that develops hydroponic growing system. They offer Deep Water Culture technology for commercial agriculture.

Bright Agrotech is a company that develops systems to maximise output when growing plants by taking advantage of vertical space.

Cloudponics is a company that offers growing technologies that allow homeowners with little to no experience to grow plants in the comfort of their home.

Pain Point and Target Audience | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

The target customers for this business are the urban population who demand not only fresh produce but also a near-natural environment around their homes. Currently, this population source their fresh produce from local stores but have very little control over the use of chemicals and pesticides that are used to grow this food. Additionally, social and political factors, apart from the environment, affect the supply and price of such produce.

The rising demand for fresh produce can be met in a cost-effective, clean and chemical free manner only when it is grown closer to the point-of-demand. With land being limited in and around urban areas, decentralising the growth of food seems to be an ideal solution.

Value Proposition | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

The value proposition is to develop Hydroponic systems for growing vegetables at home. Modern homes have very small open spaces or balconies, but a part of that space can be used to build an efficient garden. Hydroponic systems use one-tenth the water and one-twentieth the area that is used in conventional agriculture. It also enables 30% faster growth of vegetables. The firm installs the system depending on the type of plants that the user wants to grow and supplies the nutrient mixes on a regular basis. A key aspect would be to develop nutrient mixes that are organic, and efficient in providing the right nutrient for the respective plant type.

After a particular growth in the network of users, the firm can also act as a marketplace for the selling/ sharing the excess produce available, with the immediate nearby community.

Business Model | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

The company should initially tie up with developers in a metro to make necessary provisions in the balcony spaces in apartment complexes, to facilitate the installation of the system, and promote the green environment that it would create in the homes. It should also explore the opportunity of developing rooftop gardens in independent houses.

Way to market | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

The firm will have to develop different models for different commonly consumed vegetables in a particular city. The systems can be either suitable for leafy produce or climbing/ vining ones, or it may be a hybrid one having provisions for both. Modularity of the system and flexibility to make minor at-home modifications to grow a variety of vegetables, is the key to attract a large user base. The systems shall have sensors to monitor the temperature, water level, nutrient level, light level etc. and send regular updates/ notifications to the users via a mobile app. The data collected will help understand the impact of the nutrient mixes accurately, and also further support the firm to modify their systems.

Milestones | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

The startup should focus on developing the hydronic system, and the nutrient mixes, conduct trials and then launch a basic version. Green leafy vegetables are an ideal option to start with, before moving on the other systems for climbing and vining vegetables. The systems must be built to fit in the typical balcony space based on the building norms/ practices of a city. By the end of a year, the startup should target to expand to major cities in a country.

Investment Needed for Prototype | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

The initial significant costs are development and testing costs, equipment cost and marketplace development cost. The startup should target to raise around $150-200 thousand from angel investors and incubators, for developing and testing the concept. Angel investors or incubators such as Thrive Agtech, AgFunder, Terra provide both the seed money and domain-specific guidance.

Team Capability | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

The core team would be comprised of agriculture scientists as domain experts, and AI and IoT engineers. It would be good to have agriculture engineers/crop scientists with strong coding and analytical background, in the team.

Investors/ Expert Take | Hydroponic System for Growing Vegetables at Home

The above idea is beyond just organic farming and makes agriculture efficient. It helps reduce water consumption and the land requirement for growing food.

As per McKinsey, if technology is not implemented in the agricultural sector, by 2030 apart from unmet food demand, 40% of the water demand is unlikely to be met. Due to this need, investors are on the lookout for technology innovation in every segment in the agriculture industry. McKinsey also noted that agricultural companies have demonstrated higher returns to the shareholders than startups in many other sectors.

Urban residents are on the lookout to make their living environment green and healthy. Some even look to reside outside the city limits, but transportation to workplaces again adds up to the carbon footprint. It is therefore highly beneficial to create a green environment in the urban living space that brings users closer to healthy and holistic living.

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