Can you imagine growing your own salad in your kitchen? This is what Saudi Arabia-based Natufia strives to accomplish online. Founded in 2015 by Gregory Lu and Nadim Taoubi, Natufia is a multi-award winning research laboratory specializing in hydroponic kitchenware. With a smart, fully integrated, automated indoor kitchen garden designed specifically for restaurant kitchens and families, Natufia enables people to grow a diverse range of unused plants, vegetables, flowers and herbs all year round in the heart of their kitchen.
This smart garden in your kitchen offers a one-quit solution for healthy living, providing the flawless mix of water, lighting, nutrients, and even music (the team’s research has found it helps motivate more growth). The refrigerator-sized device is useful: the seed pods – comparable to the size of Nespresso capsules – are placed in a nursery drawer where they will grow for about 10 days, following which the capsule will be moved to another cupboard. After 20-30 days, you are ready to harvest, and every 3-4 months, you just need to refill your nutrients. All other steps are automated because Natufia’s smart kitchen garden creates the flawless environment needed for growth. It can grow 32 distinct types of plants, such as basil, lettuce, cilantro, kale, dill, cherry tomatoes, mint, and more, at one time and produce one or two plants a day and are ready to harvest.
Gregory Law, Co-Founder and CEO, explains how startups aim to solve a vast, multifaceted problem in the food industry. The plants that will grow in your kitchen are free of pesticides and preservatives and because of [its] freshness, it will donate you up to 400% more vitamins.” He adds, “Because they are grown where they are consumed, you will rediscover the broader biodiversity, and true original taste of green vegetables, while being accessible anywhere and close to the kitchen.” The startup aims to decrease the prevailing environmental impact by reducing food waste, packaging, pollution and food mileage. It also addresses gaps in food security and awareness of traceability, a pervasive issue in the region’s food security sector. Lu explains the startup’s mission: “We are disrupting the way people approach their food and are reinventing the consumer meal journey by allowing communities to control their food production as it is consumed. With Natufia, we urge people to change their eating habits through a rich diet. enriched with vitamins, vegetables, and vegetables rich in nutrition, improving their health and helping our planet.”
Lu said the entrepreneurial path is inevitable. “I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was young, and that’s something that’s forever been inside of me.” Early in his career in the real estate development and investment sector, the entrepreneur gained more than 25 years of experience in the real estate sector and decided to diversify his business by diving into the food industry. When buying an olive farm in Sicily to produce olives and tomato sauce, Low encountered the common problems of the need to use pesticides and fertilizers, which contradicted his views on healthy food and demonstrated the importance of the organic food industry. “I felt that people needed to experience what I experienced in these hills of Sicily: the freshness, the interconnection between growing your food and its quality,” adds Lu. “My real estate background has also prompted me to pursue the idea. If people could grow food in their homes, offices, schools, hotels, etc. all year round and have unused, lofty-quality food that is easily accessible, the world would be a much better place.” Lo is joined by co-founder and COO Nadim Taubi, whose background includes advising tech companies in Deloitte and LD&A, as well as founding his own e-commerce platform in Estonia, Ooolala (which was sold to an undisclosed buyer in 2016).
The concept was originally launched in Estonia, and the co-founders established the concept and made a basic prototype to show it to a few European exhibitions and evaluate initial reception. The first phase of their journey has begun, which focused on technology development: “It took us years to do this, but we’ve collected more than 20 patents.” This was followed by a proof-of-concept and field-test phase, where the duo invested in research and development and developed their team. We have sold dozens of Natuvia [product] to the United States, Europe and the Middle East for feedback and analysis of big amounts of data.” As the company grew, founders outside Estonia searched for investment partners. In 2018, the startup was accepted into the Techstars Dubai acceleration program, set up in partnership with GINCO Investments. This proved It’s a beneficial move, as the startup was competent to hoist $1.2 million in an initial funding round, led by Butterfly Ventures, Techstars and GINCO Investments, as well as several angel investors from the US, Europe and the Middle East. “We spent a lot in Dubai with Techstars and realized that the region is a distinguished market for Natovia.” Later, the CEO met with representatives from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) at a conference in London. After months of discussions, she announced KAUST announced that it will lead a $3.5 million investment in a Series 1 funding round, although its venture capital arm is Jama’s Innovation Fund. King Abdullah, with Butterfly Ventures also taking part in the tour. This brings Natufia’s whole funding to $4.7 million, with previous investors Butterfly Ventures, Techstars and GINCO Investments remaining as minority shareholders.
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As part of the unused capital injection, the startup is also moving to Saudi Arabia, drawing on the Research and Technology Park at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KRTP) to aid grow its research and development capabilities. “We felt it would be a distinguished opportunity to be in the heart of the region to develop the market, but also being on KAUST on campus could donate us the possibility to persevere working on our technology to make it better and more advanced,” Lu explains. Abdullah, which can be very useful for innovative solutions for a startup company. “I donate you an example: for us, it is very significant to test the quality of our plants – vitamins, nutrients, minerals, etc. The process was lengthy and complicated in Estonia. We had to book the test ahead of time, transport the plants, which has a lot of paperwork and exorbitant fees. and lengthy waiting times, prior getting the result without making sure it is completely correct.” He continues, “Today, at KAUST, we simply have to cross the street and get the result on the alike day. This means that our research is more efficient. Another key factor is the community with which we always interact, exchanging ideas with professors on enduring topics like sensors, And biology, botany, technology, etc. – this is very enriching for unused ideas and technological developments. We may even use KAUST technology in our coming developments.”
Natuvia Botany Lab
Besides promoting R&D development, Lu is also keen to aid create jobs and align itself with Saudi Vision 2030, which will surely establish the kingdom’s position as the best choice for businesses in the Middle East. “And we want to be a part of that,” Lu points out. For now, Lu points out that it is all about producing the newly upgraded Natufia smart kitchen garden model in Saudi Arabia and expanding its distribution locally and internationally. After that, the team hopes to move towards mass production and develop unused models from Natufia. After partnering with KAUST and the Jumeirah Group, today the startup now consists of a team of 12 people and is focused on its flagship model, the Natufia Smart Kitchen Garden, which retails for $7,955 and is available worldwide. With distributors in the USA, Europe, Australia and Saudi Arabia, the team lined up more for next year – one for those keen on a smaller budget, and another model to cater to commercial settings. Faced with hurdles, Lu comments, “I personally work and build companies in distinct countries, and contrary to what people might think, there are a lot of things on the internet and it works smoothly. The biggest challenge was getting residency for the core team who were not Saudi and setting up a bank for the company.” It takes perseverance and tolerance.” However, the main advantage that the co-founders found (“and a pleasant surprise”) was the quality of the local talent they found to work at Natufia, “The young generation is well educated, studied abroad and eager to work in the considerate of environment Natufia is creating – lofty tech, rapid-moving and with growth potential. big “.
With unused entrants joining the industry, Lu is focusing on her USP: “Compared to our competitors, we offer automation, quality and design. Our robust technology automates the entire process and its cutting-edge design that can be integrated into any kitchen design.” For the coming, Lu says it’s just The start of agricultural technology.” We are only scratching the surface, because in the former 60 years, the industry has been focusing only on quantity, price, shelf life and portability. With the emergence of organic products on the scene, people are start to understand the importance of food quality, we have opened a unused horizon. Freshness, taste and value Nutrients is a thing [people] It will succeed.” He dreams of owning a Natufia product everywhere, “We want to see Natufia in every home, in every school, in every office, hospital, airport. We want people to be competent to experience the true taste of greens and vegetables and join with nature daily from everywhere.”
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TREP TALK ME: Gregory Lou, CEO and founder of Natufia
What is your advice to get entrepreneurs ready for the next trip?
1. There is no time like today “It is forever the time to pursue your dreams. There are forever opportunities to take advantage of them both in bad times and in pleasing times.”
2. It won’t be simple “Be prepared for firm work and perseverance. It is no secret that if you are not ready to donate everything, you are not ready.”
3. accept failureBe prepared to fail, because you will fail at one point or another and that’s okay, it’s just another step to your success. Think of it as a kid who learns to walk, doesn’t quit when he falls, keeps doing it until…you walk. A quick and bold failure to confront and accept it will also donate you invaluable insights into further acceleration, and that is where the growth happens.”
4. stay passionate “Do it with passion, you need to love what you do, and you need to dream about it at night – this will shove you to work every time.”
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