What's new

2021 NASC Benefit Auction!

Review the rules in the 2021 NASC Benefit Auction forum. Listing and bidding for the NASC auction begins in
2021 NASC auction is LIVE! List items and bid now, thanks for your support!

Hey everyone - I want your honest feedback

Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
11
Location
Dallas, TX
Hey everyone at Terraforums,

First off, I want to say, I love you all, and I love what you all are doing.

I started off as a young kid in the early 2000's getting lost in these forums and reading Peter D'Amato's book "The Savage Garden" and being bewildered by the endless amounts of strange and beautiful plants that were out there. When I was by myself, I would get lost in the pages and reading about the environments they grew in, and bookmarking so many pages in that book. I remember being at my grandparents house, and using their dial-up to shop online at ****** Carnivorous plants. When my mom would let me spend 20 dollars on a nepenthes and a drosera to grow at home, that was a big deal to me. But, they always managed to die. Something was never right about the environment that I put them in, and over the next decade I found myself being obsessed with trying to build the perfect environment for them, and reading as much as I can about native CP habitats.

In high school, I build a very large terrarium (~100 gallons), completely from scratch, glass, wood, and all. I had the glass custom cut, and I formed the silicon seals, and I designed and built the stand. It took a few years to finish it out, but I eventually fitted it with dual spectrum HPS and MH lights, a custom-built ducted humidifier, and more as part of projects in college.

I eventually went on to study mechanical engineering and continued to experiment with ideal CP environments, and LED lights, as they were just starting to become popular as a quality lighting source. I was always fascinated by internet of things and connected devices, and built a few in my dorm room. I still remember the first CP I grew under an LED was a Drosera Adelae, and man how beautiful it was. But all the devices and systems had the same problems - they were either unsightly, required too much maintenance, or simply needed more work on the design.

Over the following years I continued to build more devices that support plant life, and finally started to find ones that just "worked" - no maintenance required and ran for years, and didn't need to be watered often either. You can check out a sampling of some of my devices here (there's even more I haven't posted yet): https://www.behance.net/natehollis

Fast forward to three years ago, and I build something small, something that I could put at my desk - something fool-proof - something that didn't require constant maintenance or watering - something even my mom could use to grow carnivorous plants and not kill them :-D! It had a pretty sweet lighting system, is Wi-Fi connected and computer controlled, automatically turns on and off based on the time of day, and a really sweet water sensor design I had invented that just worked
- and for many years - because it was optical, not electrolytic. This is something I always wish I had as a kid. The device, which I called my "OrchidBox" looked like this:

Capture.jpg

And the results speak for themselves (these sundews were grown from seed inside the box):

Capture2.jpg

Fast forward to earlier this year. I quit my high-paying job in engineering to pursue this dream full time, so that I could bring a device like this into the hands of the generation coming after me, so that young people can get interested in carnivorous plants and Orchids - my highest hope for conservation. But not just young people, I think virtually anyone can enjoy a device like this.

This is what "OrchidBox" looks like now.

OrchidsCap.jpg

We're currently live on IndieGogo and the reception hasn't been great, even though we're really passionate about this. I know the device is too small for a good chunk of CP's, but I like that it's small.

What do you all think?
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 4, 2008
Messages
1,813
Nicely done. It's definitely too small for most carnivorous plants but for drosera, utrics, and pings it can certainly work. For this its all about how you market it. Just need to make it appealing to the people who believe they can't grow plants at all otherwise.
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2014
Messages
1,494
Location
Oregon
I'm quite impressed with the presentation. It certainly looks like a nice product, but maybe the price tag is what's scaring people off? It is quite a premium vs just using a lamp as a growlight. There's also the possibility that a lot of people who would be interested just don't know about it. I don't really know how you'd go about reaching the hobbyist audience though.
 
Joined
Sep 26, 2018
Messages
2
Location
Texas
I think they look really good! I would probably buy one if I had the money. Would be cool to have one on the bathroom counter. I agree that it may be that you are not reaching the type of people who would be really interested in this. A lot of people who know about rare plants probably know enough to grow them without a device like this, or are in the process of learning how to grow them. So they might prefer to just grow them on their own. This would interest people who are interested in harder to grow plants but just don´t know how. Or maybe people with a higher income who just think this would look cool in their house. I think you could appeal to both. Maybe you are already doing this, but I would suggest making a Facebook page for your business and getting active on social media. Also tell people you know because even if they aren´t interested they might know someone who is. Other than that, I think that since you are just gettin started it will just take a bit of time to gain momentum. Then later on maybe you could develop some lower-priced options that don´t have all the features but might appeal to someone with more knowledge who wants to grow plants in a dark room etc. You could also develop some larger options if that´s something you´re open to. But looking at it I think your design is a great idea and you may just need more people to find out about it.
 
Joined
Jun 24, 2012
Messages
1,215
Location
Mansfield UK
That is way too small. It's more micro than mini. What's it equivalent to? A 3" pot?

Postage alone would cost more than the usefulness at that size.

Sorry but you requested to be honest.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
16
Honestly, if your background is what you say it is and those boxes or other larger scales models can be rigged to air conditioning systems and the like, the application of this, in terms of the skill set you possess, is more substantial than that little box.

Don't get me wrong, the box is great and it definitely makes a cool display in a living room for pings, utrics, sundews, and small species of carnivorous plants. In fact, show this off on dendroboards.com. You'll probably get A LOT more attention over there than you will here. I'm pretty sure a lot of those guys will love it because the dart frog people tend to get really into all kinds of plants. If you want to sell it, come up with a logo that pops. Examples of decent logo from my perspective...Look at the logo for this website, Native Exotics, Secret Jardin, Yield Lab, etc.

In any case, your skill set is extremely useful. Atlanta botanical gardens could have use for you. A lot of zoos out there that are building new exhibits (especially reptile houses, cave exhibits, nocturnal houses, carnivorous plant exhibits, highland rainforest exhibits) need people with your skill set.

Also, try and plug your box at conferences. Places like the ICPS conference, Bay Area carnivorous plant conference, reptile expos, plant and garden shows... You want to get it out there, you're probably going to have to go further than the internet.

All in all though, it's a good idea. I'd buy one. It reminds me a little bit of what jellyfishart.com did, only with carnivorous plants.
 
Last edited:

DragonsEye

carnivorous plants of the world -- unite!
Joined
Nov 17, 2011
Messages
1,606
Location
Michigan
Very cute! Depending upon how reasonably priced you can make them, and depending upon your finding an effective marketing strategy to raise awareness of the product (it is somewhat a niche market), it could be a successful enterprise. I have chatted with a number of folks who love plants but lament not being able to keep one alive (beyond the ubiquitous pothos) in their office.

However, as mentioned, being so small limits your market. If you were to design and provide some larger versions in addition to this size you may find more interest amongst cp growers as so many cps get fairly large in comparison and having a variety of sizes would possibly expand your target customer base.

Furthermore, limiting yourself to cps is far too restrictive if you are really hoping to make a go of this, IMO. While I realize cps are your primary area of interest, there are other plant groups worthy of exploring (though, again, larger terrs would be beneficial for those not planning on having a terr on their desk top). First and foremost, there is the orchid Family. There are many members of the Family Orchidaceae that are very diminutive (often referred to as "micro minis" by orchid hobbyists) with the entire fully mature plant being under 2 inches tall. Many of these tiny devils desire higher humidity than one would find in a typical office setting so may fare well in one of your enclosures. There are other plants which also have potential including some of the mini African violets and mini Sinningia , just to name a couple.

Marketing is not my forte, but internet platforms like FB, or Etsy might be good avenues. If you have friends in other large offices, you might see if they would be willing to keep one of you terrs on their desk along with some or your business cards to see if that might drum up some local business by word of mouth. (You will very likely be better off using either mini African violets or mini Sinns, in that event. as your average Joe/Jane is FAR more likely to be sold on a flowering plant than on a cp. Just a simple truth, there.) Even seeing if your dentist/doctor would be willing to allow you to keep a terr in their office on the counter could potentially drum up some business. If it does, then you could request that the buyers go to your FB/website and leave their (hopefully positive) comments. You could even promote this as something people could buy for their elderly family member who loves plants but simply cannot physically care for anything demanding. (In this latter case, local sales might be easier as you could sell ones already planted.)

 
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
11
Location
Dallas, TX
Hey everyone - it's been a while but the OrchidBox Mini project is finished.

IMG_2582 (5).jpg
 

Attachments

  • IMG_2582 (2).jpg
    IMG_2582 (2).jpg
    111.2 KB · Views: 36
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Messages
182
Location
Bloomingdale, NJ
Look into Wabi Kusa, the growing of aquatic plants emersed in small containers on a moss covered ball of substrate. Your box would work well there.
 
Top