A accumulation of Rice undergraduates had a immediate appearance of how soilless agriculture is revolutionizing the way aftermath is grown. As allotment of a bounce advance through Rice’s Liu Idea Lab for Addition and Entrepreneurship (Lilie), the acceptance — Amelia Calautti, Jacob Magdy Attia and Carl Thompson — acted as bazaar analysis and characterization architecture consultants to Houston-based Dream Autumn Agriculture Co., which is Texas’ aboriginal amoebic hydroponic farm.
In the course, Lilie E-Teams Experience, acceptance formed teams and collaborated on a activity appropriate by a Houston startup company. Using architecture thinking, acceptance crafted an avant-garde band-aid by developing affinity for the users, articulating the problem, brainstorming possibilities, prototyping for advice and testing and iterating, according to advance adviser Hesam Panahi, a academician in entrepreneurship at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. The course’s 21 acceptance partnered with six startups that are affiliated with Station Houston, the region’s hub for tech addition and entrepreneurship focused on agenda technologies.
“The appellation (design thinking) array of stems from the actuality that designers apparatus this in their accustomed routine, but you can absolutely administer architecture cerebration in your business, in your classroom, in so abounding altered experiences,” said Panahi, who is additionally a adroitness affiliate at the Rice Entrepreneurship Initiative and Lilie.
“It absolutely starts off with aloof architecture affinity for whomever you’re designing for,” he said. “Also … a big allotment of it is actuality able to go out and analysis article after it actuality perfect. One of the things that I achievement the acceptance get from the advance is this bent against action. Oftentimes, we try to actualize this absolute ancestor or this absolute apparatus that we can again put in advanced of a user or chump and say, ‘Do you like this?’ We try to animate them by saying, ‘Look. It doesn’t accept to be perfect, it doesn’t alike accept to attending absolutely like what you anticipate your final artefact is activity to attending like, but you charge to get article out there; you charge to get some acknowledgment and iterate.’”
‘You can’t get annihilation as acceptable as talking to bodies in absolute life’
For Calautti, Attia and Thompson, their activity appropriate them to accept the business and barter of a 3-year-old aggregation that grows aftermath such as bill and kale in a sustainable, calm acreage in southwest Houston. The Dream Autumn vertical agriculture operation is hydroponic, acceptation plants are not developed in soil, but in baptize and nutrients. The operation uses beneath than 5 percent of the baptize of a accustomed farm, uses no pesticides and is absolutely powered by wind energy, according to the company. Dream Autumn can abound 70 times the aftermath of a accustomed acreage after demography up abundant acreage and can bear aftermath from the acreage to the abundance aural hours of harvest.
Dream Harvest’s appeal was for acceptance to advice it accept if and how it’s extensive the appropriate barter and how they’re accepting the product. Currently, the acreage sells its aftermath at two Whole Foods aliment in Houston and at Phoenicia Specialty Foods. The acceptance visited one of the Whole Foods locations to analysis barter about their produce-buying and burning habits.
“You can’t get annihilation as acceptable as talking to bodies in absolute life,” said Calautti, a Will Rice College apprentice majoring in psychology. “When we batten to bodies … basically anybody we interviewed said the exact aforementioned thing. Back it comes bottomward to affairs amoebic food, they don’t absolutely apprehend the characterization but attending at how beginning the leaves are. Nobody’s absolutely loyal to a brand. From that we ample out that in adjustment to differentiate Dream Autumn from added brands, article that was actual important was how (products) were harvested that morning and in the abundance aural a few hours. We advised a sticker, article baby that won’t absolutely awning up the leaves.”
Attia, a Will Rice College inferior majoring in cerebral sciences, accepted the befalling to get an compassionate of business action and thinking. “We’re aloof accepting alien to the apple of business,” he said. “A chic like this will be actual accessible in the future, with interning or accepting a job in a startup company.”
“The students’ assignment was absolutely illuminating,” said Zain Shauk, co-founder and CEO of Dream Harvest, who knew Panahi from Houston’s startup community. “It showed us that the barter who are seeing our artefact didn’t necessarily accept all the means that it absolutely akin up with the customers’ desires. Some of those things they were accepting from our artefact label, but some of those things they weren’t. For example, the acceptance helped us accept that what bodies absolutely appetite back they attending at the amalgamation was to see added of our greens, or they capital to apperceive how beginning it was. But they additionally absolutely admired that our amalgamation showed that it was developed in Texas and that is was certified organic.”
With the students’ help, the aggregation took a new access to its labeling by giving barter a bigger appearance of the greens in its packaging and abacus a “farm to abundance aural 24 hours” line, Shauk said. The characterization is currently beneath analysis by the USDA’s amoebic certifiers. This summer, two Rice undergraduate acceptance are interning with Dream Autumn to extend bazaar analysis and business assignment as able-bodied as operations and sustainability efforts, Shauk said.
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