Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

First, I wanted to say that I am so happy to find this blog and people like yourselves.  I am interested in starting an aquaponic related business.  Do any of you have advice on how to get started?  I am a software engineer by trade and was thinking I could not only sell\service aquaponic systems but also develop software for low-cost monitoring systems.  I have designed a concept monitoring system.  All i need is funding and time on that project to get it moving.  I would love to change my profession :)  How can I help this industry instead of corporate america?

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Also, if anyone happens to be located in the Jacksonville, FL area it would be nice to get together to discuss and compare :)
I don't want this request for help from the community to seem to open ended. Specifically, I am just curious of the steps to success in this path. Obviously I need to check into state regulations and understand the basics of aquaponics at the very least. What other suggestions might there be to help get me started?
Hi Daniel,

I love your passion and can certainly relate to wanting to get out of corporate life and pursue that passion full time - I'm in the process of doing just that right now, and I can tell you it makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning ;-)

You seem to be exploring two possible ideas - selling and servicing systems in your area, and designing software for the AP industry. You are smart in having multiple options as it will probably take a while to get either going, and you can be developing software in the off hours when you aren't working the other business.

For the design/build business, I'd recommend paying close attention to what Joel Malcom is doing with Backyard Aquaponics in Perth, Australia and I'd also try to engage Murray Hallam (who is a member of this community) who has also been an inspiring pioneer in the home-based aquaponics craze in Australia. Those guys are about 5 years ahead of anyone here, and they do a great job.

The software idea is very unique - I haven't heard of anyone else do that. Your best market will probably be commercial operations, and the people who have the best grip on that market are Rebecca Nelson and John Pade (Nelson and Pade). I recommend you contact Rebecca who is a member of this community, but she is too slammed with her very successful business to spend much time here. You could try from here, then try through their website at Aquaponics.com (yes, they got into this industry early and got the great URL!).

And to find other aquapons in your area you can go through "members" tab and see what you find. There are several. You may want to start a Florida group like I did for Colorado...

Hope this helps. I'll look forward to hearing about your progress!

Sylvia
I can't believe I just now read this... Thank you so much for this thoughtful reply Sylvia :) I will try to contact Rebecca Nelson as you suggested.

I want to congratulate you on your business startup. I hope you are very successful. Maybe we can work together someday if i can perfect any products for our beloved market.

Daniel

Sylvia Bernstein said:
Hi Daniel,

I love your passion and can certainly relate to wanting to get out of corporate life and pursue that passion full time - I'm in the process of doing just that right now, and I can tell you it makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning ;-)

You seem to be exploring two possible ideas - selling and servicing systems in your area, and designing software for the AP industry. You are smart in having multiple options as it will probably take a while to get either going, and you can be developing software in the off hours when you aren't working the other business.

For the design/build business, I'd recommend paying close attention to what Joel Malcom is doing with Backyard Aquaponics in Perth, Australia and I'd also try to engage Murray Hallam (who is a member of this community) who has also been an inspiring pioneer in the home-based aquaponics craze in Australia. Those guys are about 5 years ahead of anyone here, and they do a great job.

The software idea is very unique - I haven't heard of anyone else do that. Your best market will probably be commercial operations, and the people who have the best grip on that market are Rebecca Nelson and John Pade (Nelson and Pade). I recommend you contact Rebecca who is a member of this community, but she is too slammed with her very successful business to spend much time here. You could try from here, then try through their website at Aquaponics.com (yes, they got into this industry early and got the great URL!).

And to find other aquapons in your area you can go through "members" tab and see what you find. There are several. You may want to start a Florida group like I did for Colorado...

Hope this helps. I'll look forward to hearing about your progress!

Sylvia
I think it's great that a fellow Jacksonvillian is into aquaponics. I'm currently an active duty Marine in San Diego, but I was born and raised in J'ville (I-95 & JTB area).

As for your software monitoring, I'd love to see a product that would be used in conjunction with a Mac Mini and could not only track temperatures, but would also have a probe that could track oxygenation and such, and could potentially kick on a small air pump if a threshold is broken, send emails if pumps fail, or any number of things an owner would want to receive as an alert. Using the Mac platform, also lends the software to iPhone/iPad tools/push notifications, etc. Just a thought.

Bonne chance!
Hi Matthew :) Great ideas. This was the sort of thing I wanted to develop. There is a company called phidgets that sells the different hardware parts I need. Unfortunately, I am a former microsoft employee and develop only for the PC but I am trying to change that now. I probably will start on the PC and port to the other platforms.

I have been trying to find some land lately and have been pretty distracted with it but soon I plan on formalizing my efforts.

I now own the domain aquaponicsoft.com and plan to put it to use ;) I don't have a page up yet but stay tuned.

Matthew Holzmann said:
I think it's great that a fellow Jacksonvillian is into aquaponics. I'm currently an active duty Marine in San Diego, but I was born and raised in J'ville (I-95 & JTB area).

As for your software monitoring, I'd love to see a product that would be used in conjunction with a Mac Mini and could not only track temperatures, but would also have a probe that could track oxygenation and such, and could potentially kick on a small air pump if a threshold is broken, send emails if pumps fail, or any number of things an owner would want to receive as an alert. Using the Mac platform, also lends the software to iPhone/iPad tools/push notifications, etc. Just a thought.

Bonne chance!
I can't wait to see what you come up with! I understand the desire to develop for PC, if that's your knowledge base. I look forward to a Mac solution, however. It's simply the better platform.

Best of luck finding some land! Have you checked out Spark Fun (http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/categories.php)? They have all sorts of gadgetry that you might be able to use. They are based out of Boulder, CO and I know some of the folks that work there, good people.
I'd recommend any kind of simplified automation and remote monitoring software and systems. I have lots of friends doing cool stuff with microcontrollers, but aquaponic greenhouses are still such a niche. Anyway, I've dropped three grand on automation equipment and software in the last three months (some of is laboratory grade photometers, ec meter, pH dataloggers, etc.) and I'll tell you, it could be done so much more cheaply and effectivlely with the right equipment and software. . .
Daniel,  I can see the possibilities of using custom software for monitoring and managing an aquaponics system.  I have some experience in managing projects on developing specialized software and am hoping to start an aquaponics business.  I have been working on a systems design for aquaponics management software.  I will work it up into a presentation I can share with you.  Can you provide a resume, some descriptions of past S/W projects, and a top level description of monitoring system concept?  There may be ways we can work together on this.
Hi Daniel, I've been thinking about 'command and control' operations for Aquaponics for awhile. I was thinking that there are a variety of factors which need measured, tested and controlled, many critical to the health of the system, others just critical to the health of the profitability of the enterprise. An example of the former would be water temperature or dissolved oxygen content. The latter would be things like the amount of energy being expended to keep the water temperature or grow beds in range. Keep in mind that you will not have to create the test itself, rather you will need to monitor the test results using inputs from various test equipment and methods, integrated with the variability of the other factors involved. (Isn't it fun to talk in process language!)
On another note, you will want to protect your intellectual property yet be open enough to let people be able to judgethe value of your product. Obviously the greater the amount of IP protection you have, the more open you can be, so in addition to everything else you are doing, I'd see an IP attorney when you have something ready to show in the way of process control.
The very best of luck in moving forward, remember that getting first to market is as important as having a good product. And that good enough is usually better in regard to getting to market than being 'perfect' and not getting there at all!

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