The chief executive officer of a West Lafayette-based indoor agricultural technology company has lofty global ambitions. Heliponix co-founder Scott Massey says the company, which makes the GroPod hydroponic "food computer," has a potential market the size of every home in the world. "Ultimately, I see us becoming the world’s largest farming company without owning a single acre of land." In an interview for The INnovators with Dr. K, Massey said the in-home appliance could shake up ag the way refrigerators affected the ice industry.
The company was started by Massey and Ivan Ball, who researched indoor ag together for the International Space Station while at Purdue University. The GroPod they’ve developed is roughly the size of a dishwasher and includes 40 spaces, or pods, for growing primarily leafy vegetables all year-round while consuming eight gallons of water per month and drawing on household electrical outlets. The business model also includes a monthly subscription service for the seed pods used in the device.
Massey told Donald "Dr. K" Kuratko, who serves as Jack M. Gill Chair of Entrepreneurship at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, the appliances solve issues such as land-space and water consumption by controlling the environment surrounding the plants. The GroPods work by cycling water and nutrients through the plants without the use of soil or pesticides.
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