Jeffrey Xu and Brian Lai created Micropod to transform peoples connection with food by offering them the chance to grow their own microgreens at home using smart control systems, LED growing lights and hydroponics. The original concept was to target cafes and restaurants by producing a temperature controlled device that would water and tend to microgreens automatically. After developing the business strategy, it became clear that the the market was not ready yet for the device.
The decision was made to target the home market by dialing back the idea to its essence, and make a simple but effective tray for growing microgreens. The core idea centered on a kitchen appliance. Jeffrey shares that once he started to tell family and friends about the concept he felt accountable to make it happen, there was a deep sense of duty to follow through with this concept and bring the huge benefits of microgreens to the public.
Micropod aims to target the in-home market by developing a simple yet second to none growing medium and offering an all in one kit with the seed mats and growing container included. The Micropod team had to initially validate the market and idea through A/B split testing on Facebook to gauge the markets response as well as Facebook analytics, talking to restaurant owners, chefs, potential investors and having surveys filled out at trade-shows. Based on the feedback and insights, product iterations were carried out before locking down the final design and product with strong interest and positive review.
The team designed three different sizes of the Micropod trays which were based on the size of the seed mats that were designed by considering how they would be used. The key design task was to design the trays so that they could fit on the average window sill to have the ample amount of sunlight for growing conditions. The modern colour accents and lux material finish made from compression moulded bamboo fibers give the containers a high quality feel that is environmentally friendly.
Though a simple design, there were clever elements which we considered to deliver a practical user experience. One such example is the lid cover which perfectly provides a dark and humid environment for when the seeds need to germinate, that serves as a tray which is lifted off after 3-4 days to let the sprouts grow and placed under the container. The width and size of the trays were also designed to make it easy to remove and switch out the seed mats, and a subtle water level indicator line is etched into the side of the tray to serve as a guide. The trays can stack up if there are multiple units, convenient for larger families and groups.
The team stressed that as much as it was important to understand where the market was, it was even more important to forecast where it was headed. The Micropod design and product naturally aimed to cater to current pain points with regards to the DIY home greens market saying “we believe that key drivers such as urbanisation, sustainability, traceability of food, and people’s increased health consciousness is going to accelerate this market in the future.” The mission was to create simplicity, just add water.
THE FINAL PRODUCT
The final design was an efficient well considered final product ready to be watered, passing early user testing and proving a hassle free answer to home grown nutrients. The seed mats come in many different varieties including Kohlrabi, Kale, Rocket, Mizuna, and Mustard. The mats are also 100% organic and make great compost once the greens have been harvested. The grow tray supports the roots and also holds the optimum amount of water to grow microgreens. The team blended functionality and aesthetics to make something beautiful that compliments the home.