Posted on September 24, 2020
Eight startups have reached the final phase of the Agrytech Accelerator Batch 3. Berytech reached out to hear from the founders themselves about their journey in the program so far.
Luxeed Robotics have created a robot that kills weed using a precise laser beam while leaving the crops unharmed, thanks to the artificial intelligence software, thus replacing both herbicides and manual labor. Unlike other methods, it prevents the weed from growing back since the laser hits it at its growth center. This will allow onion farmers to sell more crops and enhance their quality. The service they provide relieves the burden of weeding off the shoulder of farmers, enabling them to tend to other more important activities.
According to co-founders Guadaluna Chaer, Fabio Bou Habib and Georgy Kassab, “We applied to Berytech’s Agrytech Program because it’s specialized in food and agriculture, with a proved experience with the previous batches. Also, it is hard to find an accelerator program in Lebanon that can offer funding without taking equity, and still provide us with exactly what we need as a startup.
We are concentrating on the technology aspect since our product requires technical sophistication, especially that this weeding method hasn’t grown fully into commercial use anywhere in the world. We also gathered a dataset of 5000 images from Lebanese onion fields for our unique artificial intelligence system. Additionally, we are focusing on the business development, and now after validating our market, we are contacting potential customers.
We have signed six letters of intent with farmers who are willing to buy our service once the machine is ready and fully tested. We succeeded in building the Proof of Concept, validating our market, and establishing a good relationship with a few of our potential customers throughout the program.
Despite the exceptional times in Lebanon and thanks to the Agrytech program team and Berytech, we still have our funding, so the economic crisis is not affecting our startup development. However, the covid-19 crisis postponed many of our shipments, and we decided to no longer buy from China, although many of our main components are not sold in Lebanon. With these limitations, we cannot achieve the machine’s full potential. The Beirut blast affected us on an emotional and psychological level, and helping Beirut diverted our attention from the startup for two weeks. It sometimes feels like starting a business is a privilege in this country, but we are doing our best with Berytech’s support. Our business requires us to go to Bekaa and Akkar, but with the lockdown and road closing, it was nearly impossible to reach the farmers that we needed to interview.
We succeeded in executing most of what we planned so far, but since our hardware startup is already a challenge in Lebanon, it became quite harder. We are planning to check the European market since the Lebanese market is unstable, and we are not yet an established company: we are an early-stage startup subject to a lot of risk. We fear losing our business as many did. However, we want to strengthen the Lebanese agriculture, and we will come back once we have minimized the risks and built the product to its full potential abroad.”
Learn more about Berytech’s Agrytech Accelerator program.