Today we met with Thai Sadeh, Founder and CEO at BloomX
The Climate Journey
Thai has a deep-rooted passion for agriculture that began during his childhood. Growing up on a Kibbutz, he was exposed to tractors and fields from the age of two, and his love for the industry only grew with time. After serving for five years as an infantry officer in the army, Thai ventured into the culinary world, opening a successful restaurant with his mother and sister. For almost nine years, he dedicated himself to the restaurant business, gaining valuable insights into operations and entrepreneurship. However, Thai yearned for a more impactful endeavor related to the environment and food sustainability. After a year of global travel, he enrolled at Reichman University, where he fell in love with the institute's entrepreneurial and innovative mindset. Thai studied sustainability and government for three years, driven by his desire to make a difference in the world through sustainable initiatives. After completing the Zell program at Reichman University, Thai focused on food and agricultural challenges, particularly the rising need for pollination.
While the number of honeybee hives is growing, despite many misconceptions around this topic, the demand for pollination is increasing exponentially due to the expanding plantation of crops. The use of honeybees for pollination is not as effective as desired because different crops have specific pollination requirements that honeybees are not accustomed to. This leads to limitations in pollination and affects crop productivity. Thai and the BloomX team identified a need for better pollination alternatives and that's how they started to focus on mimicking natural pollination processes.
We asked Thai a series of questions;
Q: What stage are you at now?
Thai: The team started by focusing on avocados and reached out to companies to gauge the market's interest. We received positive feedback and conducted trials, eventually expanding our work to include blueberries as well. After spending two years of validating our technologies, In 2022, we transitioned from small-scale to large-scale production and had positive results, including increased yield and fruit size. In 2022, we started to sell our pollination services in LATAM, which led us to raise a $7 million seed round. We used those funds to build the company: manufacturing processes, relocate to a new site in Israel, team building and a strong focus on sales and distribution with our global partners.
We currently have distributors in various countries, including Turkey, Spain, South Africa, Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Mexico. Their focus is primarily on Latin America, particularly Peru and Mexico. We are also involved in R&D efforts and have projects with other companies for mechanization of electrostatic application for trees and automated solutions for greenhouses.
Q: Can you explain your tech to me?
Thai: BloomX's technology focuses on predicting the optimal time for pollination using our developed algorithm. We analyze environmental conditions to determine the right timing for pollination. We’ve also developed electromechanical devices that mimic the natural pollination process to effectively distribute pollen. Lastly, we provide a management system with GPS capabilities to track and monitor the pollination operations. For now, we’re focusing on two different fruits, we use vibration to mimic bumblebee pollination in blueberries and electrostatic collection of pollen in avocados (and other tree crops).
Q: What’s your long-term plan?
Thai: We’re aiming to focus on South and North America in the coming years and then expand to other markets like China and India within 5 to 10 years. Our vision revolves around building a platform for pollination that can address various challenges in the field. We differentiate ourselves from companies focusing on honey bees and we focus on broader pollination solutions. Our goal is to position BloomX as a leading pollination company.
Q: What are the main barriers that you’re facing?
Thai: The main barrier that we're currently focusing on is the adoption of our technology. Convincing potential customers to implement our tech requires more validation and proof of its effectiveness. BloomX is implementing a strategy of working with major leading companies and multinationals in each territory to serve as examples for others to join more easily. The goal is to reach a tipping point where positive results and growing usage of the technology create a domino effect, making it easier to convince and onboard new customers. Despite these challenges, we're confident in our technology and we are expanding our reach to other companies in the industry.
Q: Tell me about your rebranding process from Bumblebee AI to BloomX:
Thai: The decision to rebrand was driven by several factors. The name Bumblebee was causing confusion within the industry and among investors, as it implied a focus on natural pollination, whereas BloomX specializes in artificial pollination. Additionally, the association with the character Bumblebee from the Transformers movie, while appealing to some, was not widely recognized. Constantly having to explain the name and its significance became a hindrance. To better align with our core focus on flowers and plants, we decided to reposition ourselves and emphasize our commitment to flower-centric solutions.
Q: What makes your team a super team?
Thai: Our team is comprised of exceptional, talented individuals that possess extensive networks and connections that benefit the company commercially, in product development, and in marketing and sales. Right from the start, we recognized the importance of having top talent in every area that we operate in. Whether it's co-founders, advisory board members, investors, or employees, each person plays a crucial role and brings the necessary expertise and experience to tackle the challenging task at hand.
We have definitely been fortunate to attract individuals who are dedicated to their roles and have the drive to build strong networks that support the company's goals. Ultimately, the success of BloomX is largely attributed to the exceptional team members and their collective abilities.
The Super Team
Q: If you could give one tip to climate tech entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Thai: It's so important to understand the magnitude of the problem they you’re addressing. You should ensure that you’re solving a significant problem and have a clear vision of how to promote your solution. It is crucial to consider the bottom line and determine if the business can generate substantial income and be financially viable. Without a sustainable business model, the solution may not be relevant or successful. I would advise entrepreneurs to conduct thorough market research to assess factors such as market readiness, future viability, and potential regulatory changes. By addressing these aspects and aligning them with the problem, solution, and team, you can establish a strong business case and move forward confidently.