<!DOCTYPE html> Practices


In order to bridge the gap between research and industry, we are implementing our engineered system as a business venture. We envision OxyPonics as a startup company that will provide comprehensive solutions to modern day issues with hydroponic farming. We collaborated with Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, an Ithaca-based hardware accelerator, for 11 weeks. During this time, we worked with Rev to delve deeper into the product design process, networked with potential customers and investors, and created an effective business model to bring OxyPonics to market.

OxyPonics’ mission is to provide real-time oxygen-sensing technology to hydroponic farmers that will optimize farming processes and crop yields. Our core product consists of several components: the oxidative stress sensor, analytical data software, and a tri-monthly subscription plan. Each sensor is capable of detecting oxygen stress in areas as large as 100 square feet. The data analytical software provides continuous feedback on oxidative stress levels and helps to optimize conditions for plant growth. Furthermore, our subscription plan targets farmers who own large commercial hydroponic farms. For this customer segment, a strong barrier to entry is the large initial purchase of all necessary equipment. By paying a flat rate every three months to subscribe to Oxyponics, farmers can easily enjoy the detection system at reduced upfront costs. The subscription plan provides planter cup replacement and bacteria refill with no additional charge. As an affordable alternative to costly dosing systems or probes, these components of Oxyponics offer an effective means to maximize productivity and plant health.

Oxyponics prioritizes customer satisfaction by catering to consumer values and preemptively addressing potential safety considerations. The common safety concerns raised by new subscribers are the sensor’s electronic components and the use of E. coli for data collection. We addressed these concerns by guaranteeing that the E. coli implemented in the device is non-pathogenic and remains enclosed in a sealed container to prevent contact with crops. As a second layer of protection against crop contamination, we also utilized bacteria-killing UV light to keep E. coli isolated from the plants. To prevent water from leaking into the sensor, we have found a balance between expensive high-end waterproof materials and paints, and a more modest construction cost. Our product has passed numerous test trials and is demonstrated to be safe, effective, and viable for business.

Business Canvas Model
business canvas model
Market Analysis
The hydroponics industry is in a period of high growth, making it an optimal time for OxyPonics to enter this lucrative market. The hydroponics market is primarily divided between two techniques: Deep Water Culture (DWC) and Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). Deep Water Culture describes a hydroponic system in which the plants’ roots are suspended in a well-oxygenated solution containing water and necessary nutrients. Nutrient Film Technique, on the other hand, describes a hydroponic system where a stream of nutrient-rich water is continuously circulated past the roots of the plants. NFT comprises the largest segment of the hydroponics market, followed by DWC.
OxyPonics’ main competitors in the market are non-oxidative stress sensors and monitoring systems which regulate conductivity and pH. In order to enter the market, we must demonstrate the added benefits of oxidative stress monitoring to these traditional systems. We believe that the hydroponics market is in need of innovation, and OxyPonics can lead the way in technological development and consumer satisfaction.

SWOT Analysis


  • Diverse skillset
  • Product & market research
  • Product development: strong technical expertise
  • Company development through collaboration with Rev
  • Emphasis on environmental sustainability


  • Emphasis on environmental sustainability
  • Complexity of working with biological systems
  • New company: must establish brand


  • Hydroponics is a growing market
  • Market research suggests there is a desire for oxidative stress sensors
  • Can address food shortage issues
  • No other systems on the market that regulate oxidative stress, in addition to monitoring it
  • Potential for product patent


  • Competition from non oxidative stress sensors on the market
  • Public perception on use of E. coli
  • FDA/Government regulations
More information about the market can be found in our business plan.
Business Plan
Product Comparison
Currently, there are no other oxidative stress monitors aimed toward a hydroponic system on the market. All other autonomous monitoring systems are significantly more expensive. More basic setups that manually test for pH and temperature are much cheaper, but have nowhere near the same testing and monitoring capabilities, especially on a larger scale.
The simplest hydroponics pH kit, in which the user manually tests the pH, and then adjusts the pH levels, costs about $16 [2]. This price increases with the scale of the hydroponic farm. The price of a 24/7 nutrient monitor stands at approximately $150 [1], and complex systems that monitor and send alerts in real-time can cost up to $500 [2]. These systems are also much more limited in the area they can sense than OxyPonics is. CloudPonics, an autonomous system that monitors nutrients, the ambient atmosphere, and pH level, is valued at $1490 [3]. Additionally, none of these systems, however, measure oxidative stress.
The current cost of our product is $223.37. OxyPonics fits into the lower price range of other products available on the market, making it more affordable for users. We chose components for our product that were cost efficient and high quality. The breakdown of price for each component of our system is provided in the table below. Labor costs, as well as patent and licensing costs, are not currently included in the product cost.

OxyPonics Material Costs
Product Cost per Unit Quantity Price
CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 $42.99 1 $42.99
SanDisk 16GB Memory Card $6.95 1 $6.95
ArduCam 5 MP Mini Camera $14.99 1 $14.99
Mouser LED $0.40 10 $4.00
Mouser LED $0.11 10 $1.07
Raspberry Pi 5MP Camera Module Webcam for Model Zero $9.77 1 $9.77
Raspberry Pi Zero W $10.00 1 $10.00
SparkFun Ambient Light Sensor Breakout $4.95 4 $19.80
Omega Optical 450 SP Rapid Edge $100.00 1 $100.00
Mouser Electronics Standard LEDs $0.40 10 $4.00
Mouser LED Lighting Lense Assembly $3.27 3 $9.81
Total cost $223.37
  1. Amazon. (2017, August). General Hydroponics pH Control Kit, Bluelab Combo Meter for Plant Germination,
  2. Growers House Hydroponics in Tucson. (2017, September). 24-7 Nutrient Monitor - Continuous Read,
  3. Cloudponics. (2017, September). Automate and remotely monitor your hydroponic plant grow system,
Rev: Ithaca Start Up Works

For any early start up, an incubator can be an amazing resource for growth. This summer, we had the opportunity to work with Rev: Ithaca Startup Works. Cornell iGEM was among the eight teams that were accepted. This hardware accelerator program aims to help product teams make their ideas commercially, technologically, and economically possible. In addition to a four day skills camp, Rev hosted guest speakers, held workshops, and provided access to their prototyping lab to help us along the way. Not only did we receive resources and a great working space, we also gained strong networking with investors and other entrepreneurs and assistance in developing our business model. Working with Rev helped us to develop the right business application for our product, as demonstrated in the business plan.
rev feasibility
JUNE 5 - JUNE 23


In the first few weeks, we worked on finding an application for the redox sensitive bacteria that would best show their potential. During this time, we decided to target the hydroponics industry. In our process of customer discovery, we interviewed over 40 hydroponic farmers, distributors, and researchers along with the Policy and Practices subteam. See a summary of our interviews here.

JUNE 26 - JULY 14


Following customer discovery, we began to design our product based on the customer’s feedback. Our proof-of-concept consisted of Fusion 360 drawings for the hardware and web mockups for the software. Every week, we received comments and ideas from the instructors at Rev to improve our design until prototyping.

rev proof of concept


Using the resources at Rev, such as their 3D printers, we began assembling our system (for more about what we built, see Applied Design). We went through many iterations of prototyping until Demo Day, where we were able showcase our efforts to the local community and potential investors.

Future Development
The basis of any valuable technical enterprise is intellectual property. We seek to protect and claim the work we have done, by pursuing patents for different parts of our product.We met with KensaGroup to discuss the patenting potential of our product. We learned that Cornell University strongly encourages licensing of research produced in its labs. For a diverse multi-component project like Oxyponics, we will need multiple patents. We are categorizing the individual components of our system for this purpose. We are currently filing for patents through the Cornell Center for Technology Licensing (CTL).

Our product is versatile and aimed to work for any hydroponics setup, whether that is Deep Water Culture, Nutrient Film Technique, or something novel. We wish to provide exactly the large-scale, blanket-type sensing that conventional redox probes cannot. Our goal is to implement OxyPonics sensor systems in farms spanning the globe, all of which would be used to collect data to better understand the optimal balance for various types of crops.

We considered Ansoff’s Opportunity Matrix in order to analyze our growth possibilities and their associated risks. Due to our strength in technical research and development, we decided to implement the product development growth strategy, whereby a new product was created for an existing market. This is a high risk high reward growth tactic that has a high potential for success due to the novelty and practicality of our product.

In order to accomplish this, we need to grow. In order to scale up and deploy our product, we propose the following:
  • Increased research and development for continued bacterial development and product optimization
  • Improving predictive modeling for our product
  • Developing a mobile application that can be used with the biosensor
  • Customizing individual solutions for farms whose hydroponics setups may not be optimal for our product
  • Increasing efficiency of production by creating a biological division, a detection and monitoring division, and a packaging division
  • Channeling resources into manufacturing to distribute our product on the market
  • Improving marketing strategies by identifying new markets, advertising, and reaching out to our community.

Consumer Feedback
In order to develop the best product to best meet the needs of our customers, we heavily engaged with the market. We used this feedback throughout the design and development of OxyPonics. Integrating consumer feedback into our development timeline allowed us to deliver an effective product that we could confidently build a business upon. Our feedback is primarily in two categories: hydroponic growers and vendors/distributors.
We spoke with over 30 hydroponic growers. They represented a wide variety of farms in scale and technology. We learned what these farmers are looking for in a product, and what they want to improve in their establishments. Understanding the customer’s problems is a significant part of our design thinking process. We learned about the tight profit margins, and the precision required for a hydroponic farm to succeed. We saw that no current establishments currently use oxidative stress monitoring, which gives us a large market need that we can fulfill. However, demonstration profitability is critical to selling the OxyPonics product. Growers would buy our product, even with a large upfront cost, if they are confident in long term profitability.
We also corresponded with three hydroponic technology companies to learn more about how our product will fit in the existing technology. This feedback is critical to making sure our device is viable and practical. In addition to learning about different hydroponic systems and how to integrate our system, we also learned about the importance of data. The software platform’s live streaming data is a very attractive feature. We communicated with these companies and growers to optimize our design to fit the customer’s needs. Our application’s dashboard features real-time analytics of key environmental markers such as pH, conductivity, and of course oxidative stress levels. With this consumer feedback, we are confident that our product will be favorable in the market.