After growing up in the warm, expansive country of Botswana, Michael Eaton (‘18) struggled to adjust to the space confines and lack of sunlight in Ithaca. No longer able to grow fresh herbs and greens right in his own backyard, the mechanical engineering student took advantage of his resourcefulness to develop a solution. He approached his friend Santiago Alegria (‘18) with an idea, and together they began the organic design brand now known as Íko Systems.
Íko Systems has since expanded into a thirteen-member team of engineers, designers, and botanists with a shared interest in agricultural innovation. The brand targets high-end foodies by offering a fun and simple yet sophisticated appliance for growing high quality culinary herbs and greens in the home.
Íko One, the company’s first system, is a one-tiered, soilless tabletop greenhouse that allows users to grow an herb garden with minimal effort: just insert pods and add water. The system’s primary differentiator is the climate-controlled environment; controlling the humidity and temperature within the system, which enhances the flavor of the herbs.
After describing the system’s use of controlled environment agriculture and hydroponics, Michael proudly noted that greenhouses in the heart of Cornell’s campus have contained controlled urban agriculture experiments like his for decades. While the urban agriculture movement has only recently become mainstream, the techniques behind it are nothing new to Cornell.
In the coming weeks, Íko One is entering homes for alpha testing by a small group of users. After receiving feedback, the team hopes to adjust and finalize Íko One for release by the end of this year.
Though Íko Systems has only one product currently, the team is taking care to not limit itself by becoming product-oriented. They intend to establish Íko Systems as an agricultural technology design brand through the first system before developing the next generation, a larger three-tiered system providing all the produce you need – herbs, leafy greens, and other vegetables.
To follow the progress of Íko Systems or get involved, click here.
Michael Eaton (‘18)
Santiago Alegria (‘18)
Bhai Jaiveer Singh (‘18)
Ben Sword (‘18)
Lisa Condoluci (‘19)
Sivan Sud (‘18)
Jamie Kim (‘19)
Erik Johnson (’17, M.Eng. ‘18)
Jason Ben Nathan (‘17)
Jacob Freedland (‘19)
Davis Zhu (‘21)
Spencer Hong (‘20)
Jacob van Reit Lowe