Starting a new company

Jacob Allred

About two weeks ago I was happily drifting off to sleep when my cell phone rang. I hate getting voicemails more than I hate getting woken up in the middle of the night so I took the call. To my surprise it was a mission buddy, Jon, pitching me a business he wanted me to invest in. I’ve been trying to come up with a unique physical product to sell for years, so I was very excited to have one practically fall in my lap. I did some research, liked what I saw, and a few days later we signed an operating agreement for our new company. A few days after that (on my birthday!) we finalized a deal to purchase the rights to our new product from its creator.

So what, you may be asking, does this new company sell? SproutBoards. We aren’t a household name yet so you probably have no idea what that is, so let me explain. A SproutBoard is a sort of motherboard or breakout board for the popular Arduino microcontroller. This gives any SproutBoard user a slew of inputs that can be connected to sensors, outputs that can be used to control equipment, and the ability to use one of our acrylic chassis to mount their project on the wall or in a standard server rack. In addition to that we are developing software for the SproutBoard that will make it easy to tell your SproutBoard to take different actions based on the input of sensors.


So what can you actually make with a SproutBoard? Here are a few ideas:

  1. A server room monitor that can email, txt, or call you when the power goes out, it gets too hot, it detects flooding, or an unauthorized person tries to get to your equipment.
  2. An indoor greenhouse that turns the lights on and off as needed, maintains the appropriate humidity, and waters the plants when they get thirsty.
  3. A home security system that lets you use an RFID key fob to enter your home without a key, uses a low cost prepaid wireless service to alert you to problems even if the power is out, and lets you grant access to visitors even if you aren’t home.
  4. An aquarium control system that monitors temperature, pH, salt content, oxygen levels, and the water level, and lets you know the moment your fish are in danger.

Those are just a handful of the projects that we’ll be providing full tutorials and documentation for in the near future.

Well that is pretty much it for now. My partner and I have been working long nights trying to get the website moved over to our own server, getting documentation cleaned up, and doing all the tedious new business paperwork. We’ve been brainstorming new products and have a long (very long) list of products we plan on developing in the near future. It’ll be a few days before our inventory arrives so we’ve temporarily suspended sales but you’ll be able to place an order soon.

We are also gearing up for the Mini Maker Faire in Austin on May 5th. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend, but my partner will be there showing off a hydroponics system built using a SproutBoard. If you live anywhere near Austin, please stop by the Maker Faire and say hi to Jon for me!