INNOVATION PLANT POTS ARE SMART NOW

With its smart lighting and the patent pending auto watering system, Plantone is a solution for anyone to easily grow herbs and flowers indoors.

A ccording to the statistics, every 9 people out of 10 living in the cities of Turkey are growing 5 or more plants. But USD 35 billion worth of house plants are wasted worldwide due to incorrect watering or insufficient sunlight. This look has stimulated four young people who want to grow plants but experienced disappointment in every try. The team consisting of Ömer Halit Halifeoğlu, Canberk Şen, Ömür Baç and Süleyman Hepgüven are gathered to build the “Smart Plant Pot” project that enables house plants to grow healthy with smart illumination system and automatic watering system. This young team that built the Plantone brand with Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK). Support started the way with the consultancy support of TİM-TEB Start-Up House.

After a challenging R&D process, they released their first product Plantone on kickstarter.com to users without losing time. Plantone team reached their target with a wide range of crowdfunding customers from 34 countries just in 36 days and they will start delivering their first batch of products in February 2020. Anyone who wants to have a Plantone before anyone else can pre-order on arikovani.com.

We have talked with the project leader Ömer Halit Halifeoğlu about how “smart plant pot” idea was born, product development process and commercial targets of Plantone Diversity.


How did the smart plant pot idea come up?

Plantone start-up was born in İstanbul, the most beautiful metropole for us that hosted various civilisations. But we must admit that there are things we need to compromise in addition to growing and living in this magnificent city. One of them is accessing fresh agricultural products with sustainable methods. 
Maybe this is why most of us are growing plants in our balcony or near our windows when we don't even have a balcony. Every 9 people out of 10 living in the cities of Turkey are growing 5 or more plants. The main problem of the plants grown in urban areas is expressed as incorrect watering and insufficient sunlight due to building structures. When I read in an article that USD 35 billion worth house plants were wasted in a year, I took action. Smarter devices are introduced in our lives every day. We thought that why our plant pots are not smart?

Smart plant pot seems like a good idea. Well, how does Plantone Diversity product offer a benefit to the consumer?

Although taking care of a plant seems easy, related data prove that it is not. The amount of water in the pot and watering frequency is crucial for plants. Since we are growing plants in the pots at home, they need nutritional supplements. But incorrect doses can have deadly results for plants. Additionally, sunlight means photosynthesis of the plant which is the most important component for them. According to scientists, 391,000 different plant species are living on earth.

As you know, it will be incorrect to expect a non-expert user to know everything about sunlight or watering needs of the plants. Here, Plantone steps in right at this moment with a smart illumination system and an automatic watering system. Plantone takes care of the majority of your plant caring by measuring ambient temperature, humidity level and sunlight amount received by the plants by using the built-in sensors. It can water your plants for 60 days when you are on a long journey. Also, you will have the chance to remotely monitor your plants with Plantone application.

If the sunlight is insufficient during the day, illumination system with broad wavelength supports healthy growth of your plants. With these properties, Plantone enables you to have access to fresh basil, mint and rosemary in your kitchen. 
 
What is your current stage in this project?

When we developed Plantone, we were careful to be in contact with the user at every stage. I can say that we have experienced a “product development process with the customer” with Plantone to offer the correct solution to user problems. After the development process, we have presented our product on kickstarter.com to the user without losing any time. We have reached our target by receiving crowdfunding from a wide range of customers from 34 countries just in 36 days. Currently, we are manufacturing our first batch that covers the pre-orders from our crowdfunding channels. These products will be sent to users all around the world by the end of February 2020. 
 
Let's talk about the commercial side. What are your production and sale targets?

For the first half of 2020, we planned to manufacture 10,000 units. In 2020, we plan to reach 20,000 products with the distributorship contracts we are currently contacting.
 
Which companies or platforms supported you? We have established our company with TÜBİTAK support. Before and after this stage, TİM-TEB StartUp House leads us the way. Currently, we are still under TİM-TEB Start-Up house and we are receiving consultancy, mentorship and networking support.
 
You have a start-up story. A team that combines people working in different fields. Can you tell us this story?  

Yes. It really is a result of combining people working in different fields. I have graduated from the cinema department and I am from advertising background. I am a professional director. Canberk is an industrial product designer and lastly, he completed his master in Italy on yacht design. Ömür is a mechanical engineer MSc who can think outside the box; Süleyman is a control engineer MSc who never gives in and a field expert. Of course, a lot of other friends are putting their efforts on this project. To present such a product, we needed people from various disciplines like agricultural engineering, botanic speciality, interface, application and brand design experts.
 
Which paths did you follow when working on smart plant pot project? When we look at your background, we can see that you are dealing with topics outside your field of expertise such as agriculture, electronics and manufacturing.

From the very beginning of this project, our core team consisted of 4 people. In fact, we had expertise in these areas. But it would be incorrect to tell we knew everything from the start. We overcome a challenging R&D process. In this process, we did loads of researches and we read thousands of pages. Also, we cooperated with expert institutions. 
 
We have learned that you represented Turkey abroad with your Plantone Diversity project. How did this happen?

As the national winner of Creative Business Cup organised by the Turkish Exporters Assembly, we were eligible to attend CBC World Cup-19 organised in Denmark. We have attended this 6-day event in Copenhagen, and we had the chance to introduce our product in the fair. Also, we experienced the honour to represent our country by competing against other start-ups from 65 countries in front of a jury.
 
Do you have any other products to launch other than Plantone Diversity?

The main purpose of our start-up is to provide advanced agricultural systems and solutions to enable plant growing in urban areas. We have concept designs in this field but to use our energy more effectively, I can easily say that all these projects will remain as concepts in 2020. But we have 2 other products to be announced linked with our smart garden Diversity. One of them is an attachment that can be mounted to regular flowerpots that people already have at their homes. This attachment gives these pots the smart properties of Diversity that we develop based on user feedback we received. The second product is an organic plant growing mediator with ready-made plant capsule with the plant seed for those who own Plantone Diversity product and do not want to deal with soil. After completing the required documentation, we will announce these products in the second quarter of 2020.
 
Where can our readers supply Plantone?

If they want to have a Plantone, the manufacturing of the first batch will be shipped in February 2020. In order to get it before anyone else, they can pre-order it on the most visited crowdfunding website of Turkey arikovani.com. 

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