“Don’t just think you will offer a perfect and finished product, work with your customers since day 1”
What happened since last year, when you participated in the Social Impact Start Eastern Europe program?
Since last year we formalized everything. When we participated last year in the Social Impact Start Eastern Europe program, we did not have an established company yet. It was just me and my cofounder. So this February we created a company in Bulgaria LLC (OOD in Bulgaria), and we employed two engineers who help us to develop our product. We have tested the product with a lot of different beekeepers in Bulgaria and in July this year we sent one of the engineers to San Francisco, to the Bay Area, where our customers are and we did more testing with our actual target group/future customers. We got great input from them and now we have to do the final iteration before we launch our product at the US market.
What was your highlight?
We successfully ended our first funding round with the Known international investment club (an angelinvestment platform) and by the end of this month we will close the second round. We started to talk a while ago with one of the investors. He brought us in and then it took 30 to 40 days to close the round. We modified our business model and have now solutions for different customer segments.
What is your Social Business about?
Bees are the foremost pollinators of the crops that we grow. About every third mouthful we eat is food that is dependent on bees. But bees are dying out. Bee Smart Technologies is developing a “Smart Grid of Nature” in order to address the increasingly alarming bees disappearing.
How do you help the beekeepers to look after their honeybee colonies?
By using a GSM module, the beekeeper can monitor the bees in real time and get hourly updates about their conditions. The technology aims to improve the logistics and efficiency of beekeepers' whole operations.
1. Monitor. The technology monitors the levels of temperature, humidity and weight. All data is recorded and analyzed in the cloud. The beekeeper gets a report every 6 hours or receives an alarm, if a problem arises.
2. Upgrade the Logistics: Know where each beehive is located. Optimize the workers' inspections route even including supply shops that is needed. Get notifications in the case of unauthorized move.
3. Real Time Analytics: All data is conveniently stored in the cloud. Keep track of the production in real time. Optimize honey gathering, as well as inspection and maintenance schedules.
4. No needless inspections: Direct the workers towards the beehives that actually need attention. Keep a log online and consult with the rest of the community. Share best practices and brag about your success.
When will you launch your product?
As it is a seasonal business, we plan to start sales with the beginning of the new season in the US. Our launch will be in February 2016. Until then, we are doing hypothesis validation in Chile, since here it is spring right now. We are also working on a second product, which is software based and which gives recommendations to the beekeepers (about their position how they can better take care of their bees….) This software is going to be tested in Chile during the next weeks to validate our final hypothesis before we step to the US market. And we have employed another engineer.
How many times did you change your prototype until now?
Maybe a couple of hundred times (laughs). It is changing every day, but what is important, is the vision and the mission which remain the same. During our research we also saw different opportunities - for instance the second product, the software application, that we offer to the people who cannot pay for the hardware device, but still want to have some analytics for their bee colonies.
How does the software solution work?
The software solution is a modified version of our dashboard which uses only data from satellites with GPS coordinates.
What are your plans for the future?
Some of the planned improvements in future product iterations include the analysis of buzzing. Listening to bees will allow us to create a bee-to-human dictionary, effectively enabling interaction with honeybee colonies. Bee Smart Technologies’ products will be saving honeybees by having the bees themselves communicate systematic deterioration of colony health.
Our dream will be realized in the third iteration of our product. We will start using bees as sensors to provide on-the-spot full spectrum chemical analyses of multiple areas. Bee Smart Technologies wants to use this information to address the growing issues human chemical-sensitivity or environment contamination.
What is your message for an early stage social entrepreneur?
I recommend everybody who is starting something new, to create a minimum product, which serves the value that you are proposing and then just give it to the people and ask them what they think about it. It does not matter if it is a service or product- you just have to test it as early as possible, get feedback and develop it together with the user. Don’t just think you will offer a perfect and finished product. So that is what Design Thinking is about. “Work with you customers from day 1.”
Apply for Startery Central and Eastern Europe summit in order to learn how to use Design Thinking and create an innovative Business Model.
Some place you recommend us in Sofia?
http://11.me – early stage/idea stage accelerator. A great place to start a digital startup. They also have a great co-working space and organize a lot of events.
http://launchub.com – later stage investments.
About Sergey Petrov:
CO-FOUNDER AND CTO of bee smart technologies
Sergey has advanced degrees in Aeronautical Engineering from the Technical University of Sofia, Business Administration from New Bulgarian University and is an alumnus Singularity University's Graduate Studies Program, class of 2013. He has prior experience in an aerospace start-up, as well as in the fields of software engineering and education. Sergey is passionate about nature preservation and is determined to apply his knowledge to identify innovative solutions.
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