Wouldn’t it be cool to have a NASA inspired appliance in your kitchen that saved you on grocery store runs, provided organic fresh produce on a continual basis and added an aesthetic value to your home?
Cowork Evansville member, Scott Massey, CEO of HELIPONIX™ is working on just that appliance. Inspired by an internship as a research engineer at the Purdue University Horticulture College, Scott worked on the design of a NASA funded automated hydroponic plant growth chamber with the ultimate goal of growing sustainable food in space colonies. Scott began thinking about utilizing the same technology in a current day residential setting.
Hydroponics systems are environmentally friendly and can grow food faster than traditional farming methods. The foods grown are al so completely organic and provide easy access to fresh produce. Massey said that hydroponics systems use 95 percent less water, no pesticides and grows food 3 times faster than traditional farming.
As a Mechanical Engineering student, Scott got to thinking about the design of the envisioned home system and concluded that an under-counter appliance similar in size to a dishwasher would be best. He researched patents to see if there was anything like that already patented and found it wasn’t. He teamed up with fellow Purdue student Ivan Ball to draw in his Electrical and Computer Engineering skills and interest in the hydroponics technology.
Once a prototype was designed, manufactured and patented, Scott began entering entrepreneurial pitch competitions to get some market validation. Three competitions with three wins later, they had the confidence to proceed. The $35,000 won in the three competitions was used to pay for patent expenses and prototyping continued to perfect the design.
An internal revolving tower is key to speed the growth and reduces power usage. The unit does not need to be plumbed – it holds water like a fish tank.
Since graduating this past year, Scott is working full time to take their idea to the manufacture stage. Pre-orders are being solicited from early adopters wishing to assist in the beta stage; still in the bootstrap stage, Scott was happy to graduate from the basement to the garage, but is in discussions with potential manufacturing partners.
Alumni networks, business resource partners and a willingness to learn from failure have helped Scott advance his idea. He thinks too many people with ideas feel the need to hide them from others and fear failure. He, on the other hand has taken the show on the road and is lining up seed funding partners as a result. He is confident that as the product is proven, the money will follow.
If you are interested in being one of the first in the neighborhood to have a NASA inspired kitchen, check out https://heliponix.com.
- Article by: Growth Alliance president, Ellen Horan