Rev Hardware Accelerator Team Grows Fresh Food in Small Spaces
When Petal co-founder Michael Eaton arrived at Cornell, he was disappointed by the limited access he had to affordable fresh produce, and when he started growing his own foods in his room, he found that temperature conditions were preventing his seeds from germinating. Like many food-conscious people, he and his friends wanted to cook with fresh ingredients, but were encountering the disheartening reality of city life: it doesn’t provide the space or time to actually accommodate hosting or growing foods.
Being problem-solvers, the next step for them was designing a solution, which the team branded Petal.
Homegrown herbs often struggle to grow indoors and can be particularly difficult for gardeners to sustain inside because of individual environmental needs. Hydroponics, the growing of plants in nutrient solutions with or without suspension above the water, addresses many of those obstacles. The individual grower the team is working on is meant to address the rest, like space and temperature requirements.
The Petal device is different from traditional hydroponic growing systems. The system aims to allow users to optimize their planting experience, growing more plants in a compact space; the design is also aesthetically flexible, to fit with users’ decor. With the system’s IOT interface, users can purchase new plant pods, monitor their plants’ growth rate, and manage the environment all through their phone, allowing new and busy gardeners to stay up to date and in control.
“[Petal] is designed to fit in your life and in your home, aesthetically and the actual size of it is made to fit in certain spaces that other products haven’t been made to do,” said Santiago Alegria, Chief Operations Officer for Petal. “The app makes it easy to order new plants and easy to check how the water’s doing, how your plants are doing. Those things are what set us apart.”
The Petal team said it didn’t set out to solve the healthy eating dilemma, but it is seeking to do its part by resolving one obstacle: encouraging people to want and enjoy cooking and growing at home. The six-person team includes Santiago Alegria, Lisa Condoluci, Michael Eaton, Liad Hare, Jaiveer Singh and Sivan Alexander Sud.
“We found that growing is — we use the word visceral — it’s just something that no matter who does it, they usually like it… If you have this product that can let you have that pleasure, then we’re definitely providing value to people’s lives,” said Alegria.
The team has been working with soil specialists and debating biodegradable pods, which would be a relief to environmentally-conscious foodies everywhere. On August 10, the Petal team will unveil what their prototype has grown into at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works’ Demo Day.