Q&A: Orchid Gene

by David Dean Menzies

MORRISVILLE, N.C. -- Orchid Gene is one of eleven finalists selected for the 22nd seed grant cycle of NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina. To learn more about this interesting startup developing easy-to-grow, non-maintenance plants for plant lovers Startup TechWire spoke with Hsi-Chuan, company president.

When was your company founded and why?
Orchid Gene started to operate in January 2015.   The company started because we would like to introduce modern plant biotech to customers and let them know a new fancy way to grow plants. We are in Morrisville, NC now, and we will acquire a factor space in Raleigh at begging of 2017.

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What are your company’s core products or services?
Orchid Gene is a high tech floriculture startup that produces completely maintenance free miniature orchid terrariums. We are now selling several types of 100% maintenance free orchids.  Our orchids hold their flowers for up to 2-3 months, and bloom repeatedly for about a year.

Who are your company’s competitors and what are your differentiators? 
Our other main competitors are other small indoor plant terrariums, typically containing moss or succulent. These flowerless terrariums are still hard to maintain, need watering, and grow algae.  Our product is not only maintenance free, but also wild range temperature tolerance and little light requirement. The elegant orchid flowers re-bloom frequently.

Does your company develop new technologies or re-apply existing technologies to solve a problem?
We developed new technology which allows us to produce maintenance-free flowering plants.

Who are your customers?
Our biggest customer base is women in the 30–40 age range. Our customers are concerned about the beauty and health of their homes, so they buy decorative indoor plants such as orchids. Our customers tend to be employed, with little time and expertise in caring for plants, not to mention orchids. Therefore, they find a maintenance free plant to be extremely attractive. Survey results show most of people have hard time with indoor plants, especially for orchids. Women in these age groups and income levels frequently give gifts, making our miniature orchid terrarium a compelling product. Buzzfeed included us in their list of unique gifts!

What problems does your company solve?
The time and expertise necessary to care for plants is a recurrent pain for consumers that buy desktop ornamental varieties. Most people admire the orchid’s beautiful elegance, but lack the green thumb needed to keep them alive. When an orchid dies in a month, consumers either stop buying them, or spend money in a vicious cycle to purchase replacements. On the contrary, our maintenance free miniature orchid terrariums allow consumers to enjoy a beautiful living plant with a peace of mind. We realized that the fast growing orchid market had one problem-the average enthusiast has a hard time keeping orchids alive.

We completely eliminate the need for expertise and care for the orchid plant by placing it in a nutritive gel medium. Customers no longer need to worry about watering, temperature, light, and fertilizer. The gel supplies complete nutrition to the plant while allowing us to manipulate characteristics such as size, flowering, speed to bloom, and plant longevity. Our orchids hold their flowers for up to 2-3 months, and bloom repeatedly for about a year. We have taken the orchid, induced blooming at a miniature plant size, and given orchid lovers a product they can simply take out of the box, place on a table, and enjoy. We have delivered on the two most important factors for customer satisfaction: aesthetics and being maintenance free.

What new products or services or services will you be rolling-out in the next few months or into 2017?
We will have miniature rose and miniature sunflower coming out in 2017. These new flower plants will about 3 inches tall and are still 100% maintenance free. We will also create miniature “garden” terrariums containing multiple flowering varieties.

What makes your company relevant to the future of your industry?
Traditional soil-grown indoor plants also bring the need for constant maintenance, a green thumb, a large desk footprint, water spills, and insect infestations. Orchids are notoriously hard to keep alive. Our miniature orchid terrariums avoid these problems to give customer an elegant, headache-free way to enjoy blooming companion. We will bring revolution of desktop plants market by providing 100% maintenance free mini garden.

Where can people go to find out more information?
Please visit our website http://orchidgene.com for more information.

Startup TechWire - Reporting on business, innovation, and education for America's vibrant startup community | David Menzies | 919-274-6862 | Writer and Public Relations Consultant | Editor StartupTechWire.com | startuptechwire@gmail.com | www.daviddeanmenzies.com