Evansville-based Heliponix LLC says its in-home greenhouse is seeing increased demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. The dishwasher-sized device grows fresh, pesticide-free produce year-round and chief executive officer Scott Massey says he believes the pandemic will create a greater demand for decentralized farming production methods.
“Many countries are now putting huge initiatives to convert unused real estate into vertical farms and frankly, we’re getting more demands and inquiries than we even have the capacity to fulfill at this stage,” said Massey. “This truly is the time where decentralized agriculture will flourish in the current market settings.”
Massey talked about the company’s potential for growth and growing global interest in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
The company’s GroPod Smart Garden Appliance uses seed pods, which can be purchased through a subscription, to grow daily servings of produce. Massey says the pandemic has brought ideas such as his to the minds of appliance companies as well.
“There has been a lot of appliance companies in the industry that have debuted concepts in this space. The pandemic, I think, has altered the timelines for market infiltration for this product to have some real mass adoption but the trend’s there and we’re moving in this direction and it’s irreversible.”
Last week, Heliponix announced it has been selected to participate in the MassChallenge Switzerland 2020 accelerator program, along with about 90 other startups from around the world. Massey says due to the pandemic, most of the program will be done remotely, but there will be opportunities for in-person segments.
“Later this year, we’ll be going to Switzerland where we’ll have an opportunity to be mentored and learn from some of the largest and most renowned food and agriculture companies in Europe. It’s really exciting to branch out to these stakeholders and bring in who we hope to have partners in the business as we continue to scale.”
Massey co-founded Heliponix along with fellow Purdue Polytechnic Institute graduate Ivan Ball. The company came from the Purdue Foundry’s Startup Class of 2017 and has received funding from a variety of sources, including the Purdue Ag-celerator, the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund, and the Venture Club of Indiana’s 2019 regional pitch competition in Evansville.