Monday, November 22, 2010

Of Eggplant & Papaya

Perched on the back of a red Yamaha motorbike, I whiz through the Jharkhandi countryside. We pass road side tea stalls, creaky buses, a herd of cattle tended by a young boy, and finally turn off onto a crowded market street and then onto a narrow dirt track. We bounce over the ruts, round a bend and come to a stop in front of a small farmhouse.

The installation team from our local NGO partner takes me around the house to where Krishna, the house’s owner, has his fields. Four rolls of driptape and several bags of components lay waiting for us, beside a field that’s intercropped with papaya and eggplant.

We’re here to do a demo installation on Krishna’s field – he’s been selected by the NGO to be a model drip irrigation farmer for the surrounding community. His demo field will be an educational and marketing aid to show the benefits of adopting our low-cost drip irrigation.

Three sweaty hours later, we pose for smiling photos in front of our newly installed drip irrigation. Krishna flips the switch on his electric water pump and we all watch with excitement as the water starts to flow through the pipes and drip lightly onto the waiting plants.

I ask the team what they think. “It’s good, Krishna will be able to show the village how to use drip.” Krishna says, “When I plant my other field, I’ll extend the drip system to cover that too.”

I hop back on the motorcycle and we zip off again through the jumble of small-plot farms. As the fresh rural air blows through my hair, I smile to myself - another installation complete, another partnership underway!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why is Driptech Scalable?

In November, Stanford University invited Peter to speak at a panel discussion on Social Innovation and the Social Entrepreneur. The panel consisted of leaders from different social enterprises, including Driptech, OneBreath, and Avanti Fellows.

Within a packed lecture hall with standing-room only, Peter shared his experiences, from building a product in the classroom to converting Driptech’s first sales in India and China. He emphasized the importance of prototyping your product, understanding your customers, and getting your hands dirty.

The panel went overtime, as eager minds posed insightful questions to the social entrepreneurs. Through Q&A, Peter explained why Driptech’s drip irrigation product is scalable. First, the product design allows flexibility to accommodate specific customer needs by scaling up or down based on the size of a farmer’s plot. This ability broadens the range of customers that Driptech is able to serve. Second, Peter explained that Driptech connects with local partners to leverage the existing distribution channels and infrastructure. This approach allows the team to focus on refining the technology, while getting the product out into the hands of customers quickly.

The panel attendees walked away that night with a profound appreciation of what makes Driptech and other social enterprises successful.

Things are VERY exciting right now at Driptech, so be sure to follow us on Facebook!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Moving Product

"Ship it!"

Here at Driptech, we strive to simultaneously develop our technology and ship our products. Recently, we finalized a large agreement with a partner organization (stay tuned for more details). Hand-in-hand with this exciting news, we are proud to be scaling up our production capacity.

On the technology development side, we recently received and installed a Haas VF-1, which will allow our engineers to rapidly fabricate, learn from, and improve their designs. Anyone who knows Peter will not find it surprising that he excited about our new ability to CNC our own parts.

We are now CNC capable!

On the production side of things, we are shipping tons of tubing, and each month we increase our production. How many angel-funded startups out there can make the same claim? We have hired several more production associates to allow our engineers to stay focused on developing the next generation of manufacturing equipment.

Unloading our shipment at the CFS station near SFO.

Keep checking back for more updates to see how we put the CNC machine to use, and how our production numbers continue to increase in the coming months!