A smart solution to a growing problem
Mechanical engineer alumna Aja Atwood is the cofounder of everblume, a startup company developing automated appliances that put a futuristic spin on horticulture.
Aja Atwood believes that a lack of green space shouldn’t preclude you from having a green thumb.
Atwood, a Philadelphia-area native now living on Cape Cod, is cofounder and chief technical officer of everblume LLC, a startup company that has put a futuristic spin on growing plants. Their “growing boxes” are automated smart appliances that take all the guesswork out of horticulture by measuring PH levels, adjusting humidity, and controlling lighting.
The units, which will be available beginning of the summer in 2017, are ideal for growing fresh produce, medicinal plants, and flowers. Atwood has been encouraged by the interest in the product, even drawing attention from an unexpected source.
“We’re actually finding that chefs in the Washington, D.C., area are interested in having them in their kitchens,” said Atwood, who graduated in 2002 with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.
Atwood spoke with everblume cofounder Michael Morgan over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2014 and the discussion soon involved the viability of producing the appliances.
“I’ve tried growing a garden at my house without much success. I’ve got the land to do it but there’s a lot of work involved with maintaining the fertilizer, weeding, and upkeep. Plus, with my work and a lot of travel, I just don’t have the time to dedicate to it.
“I had purchased some smaller grow-box units but they weren’t what I was looking for,” Atwood added. “When I spoke with Michael he said he was looking intoagritech [agricultural technologies] and hydroponic growing and it seemed like we were thinking along the same lines.”
One year later, Atwood and Morgan had developed the first prototype and began assembling a team of, for now, part-time employees. Atwood leads the engineering and software development initiatives and the group also includes botanists and marketing and financial specialists.
“Whoever we share this idea with is intrigued,” said Atwood, who said she has a beta version of the appliance in her dining room. “It’s visually appealing and compact and we’re very excited about the impact it can have.”
Everblume conducted user experience testing over the weekend and will be launching an online crowdfunding platform later this year.
Atwood loved her experiences at Northeastern, where she thrived in co-ops at Osram Sylvania, Raytheon, and ACT Medical.
“Those co-ops were extremely valuable for me in terms of guiding me toward what I wanted to do,” she said. “It really was an eye-opening experience and I carried much of what I learned on those co-ops into what I’ve done professionally.”
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published May 2016