Egerton University Greenhouse

The Song that Sparked 42MORO Co

A year ago, I meditated while listening to the song “Coffee” by Quinn XCII. The lyrics, “I just made two cups of coffee,” catalyzed the start of 42MORO Co. Prior to this realization, I spoke with my girlfriend’s father about an idea to innovate agricultural production with technology. The idea was communicated poorly, but he encouraged me to pursue my dreams to prevent a lifetime full of regrets. Later, he challenged Dana (my girlfriend) and I to come up with an idea of mutual passion which we could embrace together. All weekend, we brainstormed until we were blue in the face. We settled on a robotic barista machine and I temporarily reconsidered pursuing ag-tech.

Fast forward a few weeks to the lyrical experience. Lying in bed meditating, the lyrics, “I just made two cups of coffee” imprinted an epiphany in my mind.  Suddenly, I experienced my “Eureka!” moment. I jumped out of bed and jotted every insight. The next day, without any business experience, I filed an LLC while staring into the abyss.

From this song, I realized every morning, Dana and I drank two cups of coffee. Unfortunately, one of those cups frequently landed in the garbage. This trend is much bigger than a single person failing to recycle, so I took action. Instantly, I realized greenhouses are manufactured from polyethylene, the same material water bottles and plastic coffee cups come from. With this insight in mind, I developed the idea of manufacturing upcycled greenhouses from a circular economy at Penn State. I shared this imaginative spark of intuition and Dana looked at me with three heads.

Invigorated, I initiated conversations with the Penn State Student Farm, and Happy Valley Launchbox. They advised me to enroll in the Humanitarian Engineering Social Entrepreneurship minor. Following their advice, I learned more in a year than any lifetime experience. Through this course, I gravitated toward a social venture building greenhouse monitoring technologies for smallholder farmers in Kenya

After the first semester, I passionately continued developing this project. Impacting environmental conservation while empowering smallholder farmers to overcome food insecurity motivated us to persevere. Through connecting with Johanssen Obanda, we were introduced with our business development co-founder, Evans Murei. Evans is studying agroecology and natural resources management student at Egerton University. He boasts a background in aquaculture and syntropic farming. Evans, Johanssen, and I committed to collaboration through sharing a common vision. We envisioned innovating a sustainable and equitable future through empowering smallholder farmers to overcome food insecurity.

Co-Founder Evans Murei
“Helped connect us with our business development co-founder, Evans Murei, an agroecology and natural resources management student at Egerton University with a background in aquaculture and syntropic farming.”

Our team enrolled in an international accelerator, net impact food solutions. Together, we refined our idea, expanded our relationships, and designed a business model. Beyond, we placed second of 348 teams in the creating shared value challenge. We completed Happy Valley Launchboxes idea test lab to where we conversed with over 50 farmers, agronomists, and greenhouse installers. Together we realized we have a special synergy allowing us to work harmoniously across borders. Evans, Johanssen, and I are actively enrolled in Ben Franklin Technology Partners TechCelerator.

This year, we participated in TechStars weekend at Happy Valley Launchbox, organized by Innoblue. At the culmination of the event, we pitched the idea of GreenTents: canopy tents, converted into popup greenhouses. We focused on impacting smallholder farmers in developing countries to help diversify crop production. During this pitch, professors questioned the economic viability of our business model selling to this customer segment. Instead, professors recommended targeting modernized gardeners and allocating portion of profits to develop impactful solutions in developing countries.

TechStars Weekend Prototype
“At the culmination of the event, we pitched the idea of GreenTents, Canopy/tailgate tents, converted into popup greenhouses, paired with our previous greenhouse technology, GreenSense, targeted at smallholder farmers in developing countries to diversify crop production.”

Meanwhile, I continued the vision of manufacturing upcycled greenhouses. I embraced team leader to recycle high tunnels stemming from a circular economy on campus. This initiative is the steppingstone of future endeavors of our organization. It is possible through involvement with the student farm club and engineers for a sustainable world. Moreover, the Penn State Student Farm is allowing us to build the high tunnels on the farm and test our technology.

Showcasing our testing site
“The Penn State Student Farm is allowing us to build the high tunnels on the farm and test our technology.”

Our team is diverse in skillsets and backgrounds, all driven by impact, through innovating a sustainable and equitable future for tomorrow. Our tents are to be manufactured from recycled polyethylene and aluminum. We are donating a portion of profits to establishing impactful solutions to alleviate food insecurity in developing countries. We are testing these solutions in Kenya where we built friendships to help distribute our solutions. We believe we can all come together to innovate a sustainable and equitable future for tomorrow. One day the whole world can enjoy and recycle their two cups of coffee.

Egerton University Greenhouse
“We are starting by implementing these solutions in Kenya, in Egerton Universities’ greenhouses, where we have performed extensive market research and built friendships to help distribute our solutions.”

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