Rowan Entrepreneurship Senior, Jerah Siegal, proves to be innovative with his creation of Biodome. Founded in 2018, Biodome’s goal is to reduce energy and water consumption in the agriculture industry and help feed people healthy organic foods. Biodome is a sophisticated adaptation to indoor farming that can bring sourced, organic produce to cities, and cut the carbon footprint of the agriculture industry.
The idea of Biodome was inspired by a discussion on supply and demand during Jerah’s freshman year economics class, in addition to his interest in environmental science. The idea developed over time with an emphasis on customer discovery. Jerah’s experience with Rohrer’s New Venture Competition also helped shape his current business model.
Jerah had the opportunity to present virtually to a diverse audience of mentors, advisors, and entrepreneurs for 1 Million Cups (1MC) Tampa on February 17th. 1MC is supported by the Kauffman Foundation and operates in more than 160 cities. Jerah also recently hosted the Rowan Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Catch Up with a Startup, an event designed for peers to meet and learn from other students that are currently embarking on their own entrepreneurial journey. Jerah offered some great insight based on his experiences and goals.
How did you go about researching the possible needs of your customers?
I conducted a couple rounds of customer discovery. The first round started while in an entry-level entrepreneurship class at Hobart College. We were required to do 5 customer discovery interviews per week. I talked to as many people as I could — in the cafeteria, professors, etc. It was difficult to ask for 15–20 minutes of someone’s time, but good to get into that habit. It helped make necessary pivots. The most challenging part was getting into contact with building owners. I had to find out if people were interested in investing in local, fresh produce, but also if building owners would be open to putting a Biodome on their roof. After talking with one building owner, the referral process started and I was able to connect with 40+ building owners.
What is your plan to go about reaching and getting into contact with building owners in Philadelphia or other cities?
Currently I am searching through LinkedIn. The nice thing about customer discovery is that it connects you with certain contacts previously. You find out about them through customer discovery and then come back to them and offer the solution to their individual problem or need with your product. Any connection in place can help you in the future.
How do you manage all of this while being a full-time student?
I probably don’t do it as well as I should and sometimes school falls to back burner. The business starts to take on more and more time as it moves forward. It becomes more about deciding and prioritizing with time management. I have to be aware of what takes precedence and then play catch up when needed. I find that talking with my professors and keeping them in the loop helps a lot. They are supportive and more receptive to working with you.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned so far on your entrepreneurial journey?
I cannot choose just one. There are three major things — customer discovery, networking and not giving up. And customer discovery and networking really play into each other.