In 2014, we built a basic prototype and showed it at a few European fairs to evaluate the initial reception. As it was pretty good, I invested in R&D and hired a team of engineers, software, botanists and biologists. As I was the main investor, there was no external pressure for quick results, so we took our time, did a few hands-on researches, built dozens of prototypes for hospitality industry and private users, worked with user feedback and kept iterating.
Once we got a fully functional product, we set up the manufacturing, quality control, licensing, sales network and finally made an open launch in the end of 2018.
How many Natufia machines are out there right now? Where are they manufactured?
We have distributed 25 machines so far. Our current production capacity is 10 machines so far, but we hope to increase it to 250 machines per year. While we manufacture our Kitchen Gardens in Estonia, many of our suppliers are based in different countries: Germany, France, Italy, Latvia, the United States and Dubai. 99% of our machines are sold abroad, most of them in France and the United States.
Are your machines customizable? can you change the size or the setup depending on customers’ needs?
At the moment we only have one size and one model. We have worked a lot on the design and features to get it close to perfection, therefore we are not planning to offer other models and modifications at the moment.
Our model is adapted for rentability, so users can choose themselves what they want to grow: plants or microgreens. Chefs prefer having plates with microgreens, private customers grow strawberries, cherry tomatoes, mini cucumbers, cilantro, dill and other plants in the pots.
We also started working with high-end SPA centres and osteopaths that use plants for body clean-ups. They make teas with fresh cilantro, mint, sage, stevia or chamomile. Depletion of vitamins in greens is happening very fast, you cannot compare a freshly cut leafy green with a 3-day-old salad from the store. And for the well-being industry it is crucial to use the whole potential of a plant.