Solomon Akele Abebe - WiFarm (Wireless Farming)
Solomon Akele Abebe - WiFarm (Wireless Farming)
Describe yourself and your project. How did you get the idea?
My name is Solomon Abebe. Our project, WiFarm, aims to produce a farm management and monitoring intelligence using wireless sensors and web-based applications to help farmers in developing countries increasing their productivities and operational efficiencies. The idea was conceived in 2013, when my colleague received a grant from SPIDER to investigate the technological options that help farmers in Ethiopia manage their agricultural practices as part of his master thesis in Computer Science at Malmö University.
Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.
I have master degrees in Applied Cultural Analysis, and Entrepreneurship from Lund University. The opportunity to work with internationally known organizations, like Clinton Foundation, Oxfam Canada, and Yale University, in the past cultivated my skills in successfully managing and executing projects. Besides, my multidimensional skills, sharp analysis of business environments, entrepreneurial mind-set, wide networks and connections throughout the world, strong commitment and dedication are the important elements that will keep WiFarm on the right track.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
We have already created the first prototype using open source Arduino circuit boards and web applications, and we know that the technology works. However, it is difficult to build final products for the market using such components. Hence, during these three months, we seek to work together with circuit board designing companies in order to create our own circuit board in line with our system architecture, system specification and functional requirements.
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
We want to achieve two significant milestones during the Leapfrogs. Frist, we anticipate to build our own circuit board that meets the intended purpose, system requirement and function. Second, we plan to collaborate with agricultural institutions, mainly SLU, to conduct a pilot project for testing the system in real-time environment. The pilot project will help to estimate the exact impact of the technology, and provide valuable inputs for further improvement before creating the final product.
Solomon Akele Abebe - WiFarm (Wireless Farming) #2
Tell us what you have done on your project so far during the Leapfrogs time.
We have accomplished two major things. First, we pitched our business idea in the “Power Hour” pitching session to the high ranking representatives of the major mobile and technology firms, and we have now open access to the expertise and open source resources available in these companies. Second, we have initiated a possible working partnership with Arduino Verkstad AB, which is the Swedish office for Arduino. These two are very great steps towards the development of our first product in an efficient and convenient ways.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
So far very thing is going very well, although it was really hard to proceed strictly according to the plan. The main problem for this is the fact that it is a holiday period. Most of the people who promised to help us in the development of our product take their vacation in different periods, and this, to a great extent, has affected the pace of our progress and also affected our original plan for the summer.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
Still, our major priority is to have the minimum viable product, which we certainly believe, will pave the way for the next steps. Thus, our team decided that we will pull all the resources and contacts towards the development of the complete first product. Simultaneously, we will also work hard to raise grants, and create partnerships with agricultural institutions for pilot project to test the technology in real time settings.
Solomon Akele Abebe - WiFarm (Wireless Farming) #3
How did you experience the three months?
The last three months were great. I have had the opportunity to fully work on my business idea without worrying about finance. I had the opportunity to meet and work together with team mates, share experience with fellow leapfroggers, and participate in different seminars, workshops and events that were beneficial to my project as well as to my future entrepreneurial endeavour. It was a truly great experience!
What has been hardest/most enjoyable?
The most enjoyable part was the time I spent with people who I met through the Leapfrog scholarship. We had the opportunity to travel around Skåne with the summer card, and chill together while simultaneously discussing different issues that were related with our businesses, and helping each other in different things. The hardest part was the difficulty to get hold of some of the people in different offices as most of them were away on vacations.
Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?
I would say things are going good although we are not sticking 100% to our original plans. As I mentioned, most people are away on vacations during the summer, and it was difficult to get fast services from different offices. In many occasions, we had to reschedule meetings. But, we will definitely continue working with the project in the future until we achieve the desired objective. We have seen a lot of promising results, and several people are interested in working with us.
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
The most important lesson I got from the project is the importance of validating the business idea, and continuous iteration process. It is not only enough to have a great idea, but it is equally important to get out of the building and interact with potential customers. I have understood that this is the most important process while working with business ideas, and it helps to really incorporate the interests of customers within the intended product.
Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?
My tip for new entrepreneurs is that it is not only to have a great idea; it is equally important whether the idea can be translated into business and help to solve the real pains and problems to the customer. It is also important to make sure that the people or team members behind the idea have the required level of commitment and competencies to drive the idea. In my opinion, there are really important for any start-up.