Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Peter Goes To China, Brings Back New Friends

Last week, our esteemed leader Peter visited Driptech operations in China for ten days, which was a necessary and very important visit. However, more entertainingly, Peter returned with 11 new members of the Driptech team.

Acting in response to complaints that he never brought anything fun back from his trips, Peter picked up “Chairman Meow” and his 10 associates, who have joined the Driptech team as part of an extended HR push. Mostly, they drink coffee and waste company time on the internet.

However, they have had quite the impact on some of the team. Aaron in particular has drawn the eyes of the chairman, who seems to watch his every move.

In addition to our new team members, the China trip also yielded cool China pens and some brand new, hand carved signage to brighten up the office space.

All in all, a successful trip.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Job Posting: Lead Mechanical Engineer

Come join Driptech, a for-profit, socially-minded, high-visibility startup named by BusinessWeek as one of the world's most intriguing new companies, and voted by its readers as one of the top 5 most promising social ventures in America.

Driptech is laser-focused on making affordable irrigation technologies for small farmers in developing countries. Our early-stage, privately-funded, Mountain View, CA based venture is scaling up for high-volume commercial roll-outs in India and China. By joining the Driptech team you will be part of a compelling social venture that aims to produce a global impact.

We are looking to turn our current prototype, proof-of-concept drip-irrigation manufacturing system into a commercial-grade solution to be installed in factories overseas. We are working hard to develop a vertically integrated manufacturing line capable of meeting our growing sales demands by the end of 2010. In fact, we must currently refuse incoming sales orders until we can ramp up our production system, so we need your help!

Driptech is seeking an enthusiastic and highly capable Lead Mechanical Engineer. This full-time position is available immediately. It requires strong mechanical design, manufacturing, and product development skills. The ideal candidate will have first-hand experience with how products are specified, designed, developed, validated, manufactured, inspected, and released for sale. The position requires direct, hands-on experience in designing and manufacturing products, as well as a proactive, dedicated, and hardworking mentality.

1. Lead the mechanical design efforts of the next generation of our proprietary laser-drilling machinery. We have working proof-of-concept machines, but we need to expand our capability and reliability as we gear up for overseas production.
2. Create CAD models and manufacturing process documents for new parts and assemblies.
3. Build prototypes (some rough, some high-quality) of newly designed parts.
4. Work hand in hand with the team members working to develop the electrical, and software systems for performing, monitoring and controlling all aspects of our manufacturing process.
5. Develop and refine our innovative product line to meet and exceed the demands of our customers. You'll be working closely with the Engineering Manager, Lead Mechatronic Engineer, Quality Control Engineers, and business partners.
6. Help establish manufacturing lines and operations in the US, India, China, and other nations as we continue to grow.
7. Help establish specifications and procedures for the manufacturing line.
8. Help evaluate the quality and reliability of the manufacturing equipment and the products of the equipment.
9. Work with component suppliers to insure delivery of components that meet specifications set by the product development team.

Background and Skills:
1. 5+ years experience in mechanical design, product development, and manufacturing/assembly.
2. Bachelors in Mechanical or Industrial Engineering, focusing on machine design (or equivalent).
3. Demonstrated CAD skills.
4. Demonstrated machine shop skills.
5. Knowledge of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T).
6. Strong leadership characteristics and a great, can-do attitude are absolutely required.

Desired Extras:
1. Experience with high volume material handling and packaging strongly desired.
2. Electronics or mechatronics experience highly valued.
3. Optics and laser experience highly valued.
4. Experience working in China and India deeply appreciated.
5. Reliability engineering skills a plus.
6. Experience working in highly innovative, design-driven environments a plus.
7. A desire to change the world and empower farmers throughout developing nations will be invaluable and rewarded.

Driptech offers a competitive salary and benefits package commensurate with our funding stage.

How to Apply:
Please submit your resume and cover letter to: jobs@driptech.com with "Lead Mechanical Engineer" in the subject. We will be accepting application through July 31st.

For More Info:
See our website: www.driptech.com
Search for us at www.businessweek.com

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Driptech Turns 2!

Two weeks ago Driptech celebrated its second birthday at our brand new Mountain View office, taking advantage of the stunning Northern California summer weather to host 70 of our friends for a barbecue.

Some early party mingling

Floors were stripped and cleaned, furniture was moved and removed (and re-removed), and piles of tools, tubing, and electrical devices were organized and hidden: the team worked incredibly hard to get the place ready, and managed to pull it off.

Trevor contributes to the clean up operation

One of the highlights of the barbecue was the arrival of “Drip Beerigation”, a custom built kegerator inside a Driptech barrel. Expertly designed and built by our friends at Monkey Wrench Design and graciously filled by Dan Gordon at Gordon Biersch (who also provided a wooden keg for the event), Drip Beerigation now sits proudly in our lobby dispensing root beer and looking impressive.

The Team poses with Drip Beerigation and the wood keg

Thank you to everyone who made it out: we hope you had as much fun as we did. For those of you who couldn’t make it, we’re sorry you missed out, and we hope to see you next year when we turn three!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Visit to Dindori (Madhya Pradesh)

By Vaibhav Lodha, Driptech, Business Development Fellow - India

My second field visit was to Dindori in the central part of the country. It was a part of the learning exercise with Driptech to understand about Indian agriculture in detail, and to gauge the need for drip Irrigation. We came to know of this place through our friend, Rikin Gandhi, CEO of Digital Green (DG). Rikin then introduced us to Mr. Gulzar who heads the operations for DG in Dindori, and also, Pradan which is DG’s local NGO partner in Madhya Pradesh.

Digital Green has a team of 4-5 people in Dindori who work in coordination with Pradan to spread the use of better agricultural practices through videos shown on a pico projector. Digital Green is a three year old nonprofit project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was started as a research project at Microsoft and is now a successful separate organization headed by Rikin.

DG showcasing one of the videos to villagers with pico projector

Representatives of DG and Pradan during concept sitting explaining to farmers how DG can help them

The agricultural setup in that area is not well organized. Small land holders use traditional agricultural practices in the absence of knowledge of any new ones. In addition to groundwater, the community ponds and river channels from Narmada are the primary sources of irrigation water. There is heavy dependence on rains, the absence of which can cause serious impacts to day to day livelihoods. During summers 70% of the land is not planted due to water scarcity and the majority of the farmers are forced to take up work as laborers.

Large land portions underutilized due to water shortage, uneven terrains and rocky beds

Crops grown vary from rice during the monsoon season to oilseeds, pulses (legumes grown for their dry seed), and a few intercropped vegetables during winters. Summers generally see most of the land left barren or planted with millet, barley, and less water intensive crops. The vegetable market has not realized its true potential. Most of the farmers only grow them for their own subsistence. Drip irrigation could change this and allow farmers to grow vegetables for sale during the dry season. Some Digital Green videos show farmers earning up to two hundred thousand rupees in one season by doing this.

Drip Irrigation also perfectly suits the requirements for sericulture, where I believe it could have a long term impact. To promote the growth of silk, the government provides pump sets and seeds. It sets fixed prices at the start of the season, provides interest free loans, and pays for all the expenses incurred for crops during the first four years.

Worms which feed on Mulberry leaves and finally produce silk

Silk balls with worms inside are boiled to extract the silk

Despite certain bad experiences and credit terms in their past that make some farmers cautious about making an investment, the farmers seemed very excited about the potential of drip irrigation. We are looking forward to making our affordable drip irrigation available in the market.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thank You for Voting Us #4 in America!

We are extremely excited to have finished fourth in BusinessWeek’s “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs” 2010. The contest, which profiles companies who “all share a commitment to using business to create a broader benefit”, recognizes start-ups as well as established businesses that are trying to make a significant impact on worldwide issues. While being selected among the top 25 finalists is a fantastic accomplishment, to be voted in the top five most promising social startups is a monumental achievement and a testament to the Driptech mission. For those of you who voted, thank you for your support: we couldn’t have done it without you.