It has been quiet a busy year for the young founder of Riego and from the looks of it, bigger success is right around the corner.
Riego, which translates as “irrigation” in Spanish, is a solar powered, agricultural irrigation dynamic-control device. It enables users such as farmers to optimize irrigation water consumption through monitoring the weather and soil parameters, tree growth, water and fertilizers concentration. And its uniqueness stems from its ability to dynamically change the irrigation schedule, based not only on the weather and soil parameters but also on the plant needs, through a set of sensors and a smart algorithm.
The sensors can detect when crops need watering and the collected data can be archived in the cloud, enabling the user to receive customized reports and alarms. Riego will also offer an online social platform that allows the users to interact, exchange and share information.
It is the brainchild of entrepreneur Antoine Skayem Founder and CEO of Free Renewable Electric Energy (FREE) a tech-focused agriculture, forestry and fishing startup.
“In 2013, a huge drought hit Lebanon that rendered 60% damage to the production yield. As a result, we joined forces with ‘Arcenciel’ to come up with a proactive solution to reduce the water consumption on a 33000 sqm apple orchard,” explains Skayem. “The project consisted of combining several sensors and a platform in order to optimise the irrigation schedule. The concept proved effective and reached around 20% of reduction. Consequently, we decided to leverage the project and develop a plug and play product that is capable of rendering the same result, with a lower cost. We want to impact the environment and agricultural sector by helping to manage our resources for the future”.
For the last year, Riego has been on a roll. After winning the Digital Energy Revolution Challenge (shaams.org), the team also won the GSVC competition in its green edition and were recently awarded the “Green Impact Award” after being incubated at Berytech. Riego also got to the finals of the the Seedstars competition and are going to compete in Bahrain. In the meantime, they landed first place in the Hyundai Startup Competition where Skayem pitched and won on national TV! (watch it here)
In addition to that, Riego were selected to start a three-month accelerator programme in Dubai initiated by the UK-Lebanon Tech Hub (UKLTH), to help it break into new international markets and find partner companies and investors in the UAE and wider Middle East. The companies were selected by an international panel of Lebanese and international business experts based on the companies’ business models, their potential for scalability and their readiness to enter international markets.
“I have learned a lot from the recent incubators program at Berytech and the UK Lebanon Tech Hub. We have been exposed to a lot of people with deep experience in starting companies and scaling companies. I learned how to create frameworks, delegate in the right way and exploit all possible opportunities around us. RIEGO has been growing organically, it has attracted a lot of talent on its own and now we are a family of 8 working constantly to make it happen,” declares Skayem.
To add to its list of successes Riego has been recently selected by Berytech and the Creative Business Cup organization to represent Lebanon in the prestigious international competition. Skayem is attending a MENA bootcamp in Koling Denmark then participating in the finals on the 20-21 November in Copenhagen.
For further information about Free Renewable Electric Energy (FREE) please visit http://www.free-lb.me