It’s coming up on 1 year since Growver was featured on ‘Make Me a Millionaire Inventor’ so I figured this was a great time for a run-through on the Growver story so far.
As a homeowner it hadn’t taken me long to figure out that my lawn sprinkler system wasted a lot of water, was costly to maintain, and basically did a poor job of keeping my grass alive. After years of looking at alternatives, it became clear that effective irrigation requires carrying water and placing it exactly where it’s needed.
Since no-one had built a lawn watering robot before, I was starting from scratch. By the time I started talking with the producers of Make Me A Millionaire Inventor in early 2015, I’d built both hose-connected and tank-based Growver designs. During filming of the show, Michael and Martin at Blue Fish took my second generation prototype and transformed it into something that looks like a real product. I also got to take the new Growver design door-to-door in the LA area, getting real feedback from homeowners in an area that’s facing a massive water crisis. Feedback was very positive – I was on to something big!
The highlight of the Make Me A Millionaire Inventor show is, of course, the pitch. I thought my pitch went very well and apparently so did the investor. The offer if $750K in seed funding gave a multi-million dollar pre-money valuation! Check out the show on CNBC if you haven’t already to follow the story and get the details.
Investor funding was critical to moving the design forward and into initial production and field testing. There are more development costs, as well as testing and expensive tooling. Unfortunately, the investor’s VC fund didn’t close, so we did even start due diligence.
In February 2016 I decided to try funding Growver through a Kickstarter campaign. My first choice was to Kickstart the Make-Me-A-Millionaire-Inventor design. But due to the tooling costs and timeline, I had to go with a simple, hose-connected concept. The Kickstarter generated considerable interest but fell short – everyone wanted a fully automated hose-less that looked like the one on TV!
Today Growver development continues, though on a very constrained budget. Importantly, there’s some really cool technology that will let Growver install quickly and move autonomously around any lawn.