Keeping green areas healthy and green in residential and commercial spaces can be time-consuming, costly and harder than anticipated. PRatian has identified this problem and developed AgroBeads , biodegradable, eco-friendly spheres that release water and nutrients into plant soil for 30 days.
Consumers buy houseplants for wellness and decorative purposes, but many plants die within the first month because of poor maintenance. Misinformation about proper plant care, busy work schedules, travel, and plant maintenance costs can lead to lack of water, too much water, poor lighting and room temperatures and inadequate nutrition.
PRatian's AgroBeads product line is a cost-effective, self-contained hydration and nutrient system capable of supporting the growth of individual plants. Originally conceived for plant care in challenging climates, the product simplifies plant care, mitigates irrigation costs by controlling water usage, improves plant performance and conserves natural resources.
By facilitating plant care and enhancing plant health, AgroBeads has a positive impact on the physical and emotional health of its customers. It also saves them the time, energy and money it takes to replace dead plants.
A unique product
AgroBeads is the only natural product that combines water absorbent technology with a fertilizer solution inside fully biodegradable spheres. Conventional irrigation systems are less efficient and more expensive because they consume more water and fertilizer and add transportation and electricity costs. Meanwhile, products that can retain humidity in the soil for several months are made of plastic that takes many years to disintegrate, harming the environment and unsuitable for industrial farming applications.
PRatian's AgroBeads and its positive impact on society and the environment have earned the company numerous accolades, including non-institutional grants for R&D and company development, the Best Innovation Award at Grupo Guayacán's 2018 EnterPRize Business Competition, first place in the 2018 Entrepreneurs' Organization Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, and a Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase 1 award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In addition to these accomplishments, the company presented a study about plant growth on Martian surface at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Mexico and a paper on debunking myths about Puerto Rico at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Value proposition and target market
AgroBeads is a smart solution for household plant owners, avid gardeners, retail stores, greenhouses and nurseries.
- Its slow-release technology reduces the frequency of irrigation to as low as once a month, helping plant growers cut labor costs and avoid high capital investments in infrastructure.
- The AgroBeads spheres contain water and nutrients that are applied directly to plant roots.
- The slow-release mechanism allows growers to maximize fertilizer efficiency while reducing water consumption in irrigation.
AgroBeads has the potential to produce higher yield and better plant quality (based on data collected from pilot projects). PRatian is optimizing the product's technology for industrial farming applications.
Potencial for growth
Santa Isabel-based PRatian manufactures the AgroBeads line in Puerto Rico and sells it on its website to residential and business consumers. The company has plans to go after the B2B market in the U.S., specifically large greenhouses and nurseries, via subscriptions and direct sales.
Challenges to overcome
In its journey, PRatian has encountered a lack of opportunity for entrepreneurial growth in the southern and western parts of Puerto Rico, including difficulty finding the expertise and tools to create sufficient e-commerce traction and increase sales.
The company has identified a need for support in the following areas:
- B2C and B2B product marketing
- Networking opportunities with investors
- Incentives for R&D credits and manufacturing services
- Advice on corporate development, marketing and other business areas
Rising Entrepreneurs Program Experience
Thanks to the Bravo Family Foundation’s Rising Entrepreneurs Program, PRatian has been able to scale back and focus on developing new business and marketing strategies, redesigning the website for better customer experience, and creating new packaging for the product.
The mentorship PRatian received during the program enabled it to establish meaningful connections with experts and industry leaders that will help it gain more e-commerce traction and expand its manufacturing operation.
"The program has been an outstanding resource. It has helped us identify and understand our flaws and work productively with Bravo's experts and mentors to fix these flaws, make the company stronger and position it for growth."Jose Couvertier, PRatian co-founder
The PRatian team is composed of young engineers, lawyers and entrepreneurs who are passionate about creating agricultural technologies that can conserve the island's water resources and improve its economy.
“Entrepreneurship is a transformative lifestyle and mindset,” Couvertier said. "By focusing on creating innovative solutions to problems, entrepreneurs can identify great opportunities and redesign entire societies."