135: Ruwan Subasinghe and Costas Simoglou on Nanofarms
The creation story of a table top appliance for growing food indoors.
Ruwan leads product design at Replantable. While earning his Mechanical Engineering degree at Georgia Tech, he machined microfluidic devices and instructed students in the campus machine shop. He has used this fabrication knowledge to bring a hands-on design approach to startups like Intuitive Pickups as well as larger companies like Verizon Telematics.
Costas is the director of the Center of Innovation for Energy Technology, where his mission is to help Georgia’s companies accelerate the development of new products, ideas and business models in the Energy ecosystem and maintain the State of Georgia’s leadership position in the fields of energy generation, transmission, distribution, storage and consumption.
In This Podcast: Greg does a double interview with Ruwan, one of the inventors of a new appliance that grows food indoors, and Costas, the director of the Center that that helped bring the idea to the fruition. Ruwan shares the genesis story of the Nanofarm from Replantable and tells how they considered the purpose and function of soil as a growing medium. Costas explains the role of his agency and even how they were able to beta test the machines with the help of some high school classes in Georgia.
Listen in to Learn About:
- Ruwan started as a student at Georgia tech where he and his business partner were frustrated by how quickly produce expired in their fridge
- What he makes is Nanofarm – a kitchen appliance that grows produce automatically
- Costas talks about how food and energy are connected and that the state of Georgia is working to help businesses create solutions
- How Costas was impressed with the project that Ruwan created at Georgia Tech and then brought the beta version to local high schools to test the product
- What the mission of the Center of Innovation for Energy Technology is and how that relates to the local energy model and localizing the food model
- The sustainability focuses of the Centers and how they are applying them to helping their state
- How the Replantable beta testing was done with the local high schools
- The story of how Replantable was built from a class project working to keep food good during transportation and storage
- The staggering amount of produce wasted in the united states that led them to think up their initial idea of a root container which was not cost effective
- The research they did on why more people are not growing their own food
- The solution they came up with to help make food growing at home more foolproof
- The benefits of the Nanofarm for areas that cannot grow year-round
- It comes fully assembled and needs only water and electricity to grow food from the plant pads that are available
- The different plants that are available with the plant pods with this product
- The experience of growing your own food and harvesting it directly for your plate
- The future of urban farming from the perspective of both Costas and Ruwan
- What the goal for Replantable is for the future
As well as:
- Ruwan shares what he learned from his first project and the struggles with that failed project that became the ground work for another idea until they landed on the Replantable project
- And how the plant pods are his biggest success with it being an alternative growing medium
- Costas shares how he is excited about bringing together new ideas and business models while supporting technological advances
- Ruwan tells about how the looks on peoples’ faces when they see the possibilities with his product really drives him
- Ruwan’s advice to listeners is to break bigger issues into smaller workable steps then put it back together
- Costas seconds Ruwan’s advice and adds that with technology we can address so many of the world’s needs
Ruwan’s recommendation: The Lean Start Up
Costas’ recommendation: Design Thinking, Business Innovation
How to reach Rowan or Costas: