Now that the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2020 winners have been officially announced, you’ll want to learn more about each winning team and the story behind each innovation. In its fourth year, this online competition awards cash prizes to early-stage startups to develop a solution that drives economic development or solves a social or environmental problem.
We are excited for you to learn more about the 2020 winning teams addressing some of the biggest challenges we face through technology-based solutions.
I had the chance to speak with Intelligent Hives founder, Sebastian Górecki, winner of a Third Runner-Up $10,000 USD prize.
What problem is your technology solution trying to solve?
Górecki: We are trying to solve both the beekeepers’ problem and the bees’ problem. Beehives are located in different places around the world – and 30 percent of bees don’t survive to the next season. This is caused by parasites, chemicals, and other things, which are time-consuming for beekeepers to monitor and inspect. Our 24-hour monitoring device can detect all these things, dramatically reducing the inspection time for beekeepers and helping ensure the greater health of the hives.
Can you explain how the solution works?
Górecki: It’s really easy for beekeepers to use. They simply install the device inside the hive, where it measures temperature and sound wave frequency, detects disease, and more. The device then sends the data to our database and when the conditions in the hive change, threatening the health of the bees, an email is sent alerting the beekeeper.
What inspired you to develop this solution?
Górecki: For me, it’s a funny story. Two years ago, my cousin from Paris sent me a jar of honey. Soon after, my brother was mad at me and broke it. Not able to easily get more honey and learning about the dire situation of bees around the world, I decided to develop a technology to help. It all really happened by accident.
How will winning a prize in the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge help you advance your business?
Górecki: Winning the $10,000 USD Third Runner-Up prize will help us expand our operations, allowing us to buy more office supplies and equipment to run the office more efficiently. It will also help us to invest in device development. Specifically, we need to enhance the device so that it can work 24 hours in any weather condition. Additionally, we want to further develop solar panels for it. We conducted a three-month test of solar panels with some beekeepers, but the power supply is one problem we need to solve. That way, the devices can work anywhere.
How has the global pandemic impacted your work?
Górecki: For us, the pandemic has not been so bad. We had to stay at home, which gave us more time to further develop our solution and start producing more devices. We also had time to develop new locations, as well as new lines of codes. We also live close to each other, so we had the option to get together every day. It ended up being a big advantage – and honestly we didn’t have time to think about it.
Why did you decide to start your own social enterprise versus going to work for a company?
Górecki: I started my own company, because I wanted to do something good for the planet, for the bees. We’re young and we want to do something special – something that no one else is doing. We have plenty of time to do “normal work” – so we decided to start our own company.
What is the best piece of advice you received about starting your social enterprise?
Górecki: A lot of people helped us to develop the company and the solution. It’s the collection of experience from many people that made it possible. My mother especially helped us a lot. She’s my teacher. She runs her own company and gives me a lot of good advice about how to manage problems of all kinds.
There’s a lot of advice that has helped me along the way, including “good people attract good people” and “there may be resistance starting your own enterprise,” but the best advice I received was “don’t stop.”
We applied for last year’s Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge and made it to the semi-finals – but we didn’t win a prize. So, we tried again this year and we kept working on our solution. My advice: Do what you want to do. In the future, you will find the results you want – if you just keep going.
Do you have any advice for next year’s applicants?
Górecki: Take advantage of everything the competition has to offer – the mentoring, the feedback, etc. It only makes you and your company better.
What job would you be doing if you didn’t do this?
Górecki: If I wasn’t running Intelligent Hives, I would make IoT devices, because I think it’s the future of technology.
What is your favorite book and why?
Górecki: Business books are my favorite by far because they can help you develop your skills. My favorite business book is The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. I read it two years ago and have been implementing the advice in it ever since.
What is your favorite activity when you are not working?
Górecki: It changes every year. My favorite activity used to be mountain climbing, but now it’s swimming. I hope I can go back to the pool soon!
Stay tuned for more articles in our blog series, featuring interviews with every Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2020 winning team!