Insights from our Head of Software, Montique Willis, at AgTech Week 2019 Consumer Education Panel


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Last week, Grow Computer was represented at NYC AgTech Week 2019, where our very own Montique Willis, Head of Software, spoke on a panel focused on Consumer Education.

Monti has a background in software development and UX/UI. He has a unique perspective, instilled from his family, on the incredible value of growing food and plants at home. Monti saw the opportunity to bring his tech background into the grow room and joined Grow Computer to bring about change in the industry. Since diving headfirst into the world of AgTech, he’s discovered the untapped potential of indoor growing technology to improve processes, and the opportunity to create a community of growers who can learn from each other through shared data. 

Grow Computer is focusing on ways we can help growers understand the advantages of using our platform. This panel was an excellent opportunity to speak to some of the ways we’re meeting the needs of our consumers, and how we can best educate them as we move into a product launch. 

 
Monti answering audience questions at the NYC AgTech Week Consumer Education Panel

Monti answering audience questions at the NYC AgTech Week Consumer Education Panel

 

When considering the needs of our consumer, Monti thinks of Grow Computer users in two segments. The first segment is the “0-1 grower”. This grower is in their early days of indoor growing and the technology that supports it. Concepts like vertical farming, or growing using hydroponics, are all brand new to this type of user. They’ll need access to information on the basics, such as the best equipment for their grow, the various technologies available to them, and the intricacies that go into the art of growing indoors (temperature, humidity, CO2). We need to provide these types of consumers with the resources and tools that will lead them to success in the grow room.  

The next segment of growers, which Monti dubs as “2-5 growers” already know the basics. They’ve expanded their knowledge base, facility size, technology integration, and growing capabilities. Monti noted that as they scale, limitations in current technologies available to them will likely lead to some frustrations along the way. Advanced indoor growers integrate many devices within their systems, but most of these devices do not communicate with each other. Growers are left trying to manage a grow across too many apps, with too many sensors that don’t speak to each other, using technology that has not been designed to seamlessly control the entire grow. Grow Computer is designed to fix this. It will allow for fully integrated grow room management on a platform that collects data as it goes. “In the end, it’s about creating predictability for your grow”, Monti believes. That’s something that every grower wants, regardless of size or scope. 

 
Monti has his own indoor grow in Brooklyn, NY, where he experiments with environmental conditions and technology.

Monti has his own indoor grow in Brooklyn, NY, where he experiments with environmental conditions and technology.

When asked about the added value that Grow Computer can give to growers, Monti emphasized price and cohesion. “Our value prop is that we’re cheaper, and we’re a community that supports each other. We better understand how data affects growing.” Grow Computer will allow farmers to create grow recipes, exploring the unique characteristics that can be brought out in a plant depending on environmental conditions. Growers will be able to track data points on plants from seed to harvest, leading to better analysis and traceability. 


With a user experience that includes plant data analysis and technology implementation, Grow Computer is an ideal platform to teach consumers of any age about STEM, nutrition, and sustainability. Monti believes that K-12 educators will use Grow Computer as a vehicle to create engaging and rewarding learning opportunities. Children will be able to physically interact with the plants that eventually become the food they eat, and increasingly tech-savvy teens will experiment with software as they develop valuable skills in technology. College students and researchers who further explore the potential of the GC operating system will have a consistent and reliable platform to gain and record new insights. 


Grow Computer’s alpha product will soon be launching, and during this panel Monti spoke a bit about the ways we’re reaching our consumer audience. He mentioned our efforts to engage with growers online and through social media, and highlighted word of mouth within the growing community as an excellent method for consumers to learn about our brand.

There are some difficulties along the road, and Monti spoke about a common misconception among consumers. 


“We are not a box. To say you can put something in a box and grow it on a large scale is not feasible.” Grow Computer believes in controlled environment agriculture using methods that are scalable, and although there are products that cater to small scale “farms”, Grow Computer is built for a much larger vision. 

Monti advocates growing food at home, and maintains his own indoor grow for access to fresh, home-grown greens.

Monti advocates growing food at home, and maintains his own indoor grow for access to fresh, home-grown greens.

Lastly, Monti finished the panel off with a request of the audience. “Grow plants in your daily life as much as possible. Gain an affinity for growing plants and learn about being healthy. Just grow more plants.”

At Grow Computer, that’s what we’re all about - growing plants and doing it smarter. 


Thanks to NYC Ag Collective for hosting this panel on consumer education. NYC AgTech Week 2019 was a great success and we’re happy to have been a part of this event for a second year.

 
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