This weeks team highlight is Green Capsule, an innovative and eco-friendly heating and cooling system designed by a team of architects. Green Capsule is one of the startup teams competing for the Standard Chartered Women+Tech4NYC $25,000 grand prize sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank as part of their Futuremakers initiative. I was able to meet virtually with Ina Dajci, who isGreen Capsules Marketing Specialist. She shared with me her teams concept, what they hope to gain from the Zahn Center, and their hopes for Green Capsules future. The team includes CCNY Spitzer School of Architecture graduate students Ina Dajci, Max Isakov, Melek Kilinc, and architect Rei Celo. Theyre joined by CCNY professor Dr. Ahu Aydogan, who serves as their advisor.
The following team highlight blog is written by Zahn apprentice Lissette Lucero.
When explaining the startups concept, Ina stated We are designing a vertical system for green walls that will be augmented in very dense urban fabrics. We would be cultivating medicinal cannabis within these green walls.
Lissette: Oh thats something new to New York City. Why do you think there is a need for this here?
Ina: We are architects. We are always discussing the environment and all of the environmental issues that we face especially in the building industry. 40% of the energy consumption in the United States comes from the building industry. We are trying to propose an idea that would merge farming with urban fabric by having agricultural products within the city. That was one of the main reasons we wanted to do this. There is a shrinkage in farmland in the United States. We are losing 3 acres per minute because of the building industry. We are proposing the idea of having green spaces integrated into existing cities or any new building construction. We thought by growing medicinal cannabis in these green spaces, there would be great profit and it would be accessible to pharmaceutical companies that are treating the THC culture as a great resource for medicinal purposes. We checked the growth rate market of this industry and it is super high. You can see it as an investment.
Lissette: Yeah I completed a market research project last semester on the cannabis market, and there is a major growth rate now that it is becoming legal in more states.
Ina: Yeah thats why we are excited, we feel it can be very profitable.
Lissette: So Green Capsule, why did you choose that as your startup's name?
Ina: Greenery is what we are missing in our dense environments and what we are constructing and building every day. Look at the green space in New York City for example. Its completely unfairly spread. We will have one big park but then we don't have enough for the rest of the neighborhood. This thing of not having enough greenery for all of the buildings everywhere gave us the green part. Capsule comes from the design of the modular system that we've created. Since this plan has a lot of requirements and needs a very controlled environment to be grown and stay healthy. We came up with this capsule which is a controlled environment for the plant. It would not just be having green walls with cannabis all over the city, but they would be in this capsule which is the controlled environment. The plant can grow until a certain state, and then it would be taken away with a capsule, sent to farmers, and the further steps will be proceeded.
Lissette: What is the biggest value that you would like your consumer to gain from Green Capsule?
Ina: The gain from this product comes from an environmental aspect. This system works as a shading device for buildings. This means it lowers the energy consumption of the buildings. In this way we are fighting the climate crisis. We also have a social aspect. It will create new jobs and new opportunities where the system will be implemented. There is also immense revenue for the people who will use this product. You buy the system once, but every four months you will continue to harvest, and as we know the market in this field is crazy, so there will be economical benefits also.
Lissette: How did you feel that Green Capsule can benefit from the Zahn Startup Competition? What sparked your interest in their program the most?
Ina: We've always known and heard about the Zahn Center from previous architecture students that had participated in the competition. Our mentor gave us the biggest push for us to join. She told us that the Zahn Center is serious and helpful, and they can give life to our project. This is what we do in school, we all design and come up with innovative stuff, it's very known in architecture.
Lissette: Awesome, what would you say is your biggest takeaway from what youve learned with us?
Ina: Zahn is really great for us. Initially, we didnt know the Zahn Center worked the way that it does. We thought this was more about advancing our design, when actually we didn't need that. Zahn helps us create and advance as a company–how to get out there in the market. This is very useful for us since none of us had much experience in this field. We are understanding more of structure and how to go from phase to phase. The bootcamp sessions are also very successful. We do appreciate the facilitators and the ideas they give us.
Lissette: If explaining the Zahn Startup Competition to a prospective participant, how will you describe it?
Ina: I would say definitely give it a try. What we learned at the Zahn Center, we did not learn in regular classes. As designers, we don't focus too much on subjects such as marketing. We focused more on product development and prototype building. I think the Zahn Center is a really great opportunity that designers shouldnt miss. You're learning to sell your skills, and if you don't know this then your ideas can get wasted.
Lissette: By the end of the competition, where do you see Green Capsule?
Ina: I think that the most important thing is we were brought closer together by this competition. We all believe in this project. By doing our assignments and having our regular meetings, we strongly believe this idea and want to continue this company. This is the greatest gift weve received from Zahn. It gave us structure and we know how to further proceed with our idea.
Ina and I chatted more about the subject of marketing, as I shared with her my learnings and offered any advice that I can. At the Zahn Center, were excited to see Green Capsule grow. If youd like to learn more about the Green Capsule, you can reach them at Greencapsule@zahncenternyc.com .