• April 25, 2015

Iowa State Daily

Plant Link kickstarted by Texan ISU transplants

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Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 12:00 am

Austin Lyons and Emily Raney are ISU alumni developing “Plant Link,” a device that makes gardening easier by placing low-cost links by plants to communicate to the owner's phone when his or her houseplants or row crops are thirsty.

The two, now married, are in the process of kick-starting Plant Link, beginning their life together and changing the way plants are watered. 

Emily and Austin met during their freshman year at ISU as members of the Campus Crusade for Christ.

After marrying 3 1/2 years ago, just before Austin’s senior year at ISU, they decided to move to the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana where Austin completed his master's degree and where the Lyons met the rest of their current team at Plant Link.

“Oso,” Spanish for bear, is the name of the company that designed Plant Link. The bear is the mascot for Baylor University, where six of the engineers that work at Plant Link received their undergraduate degrees.

Oso just finished raising funds for Plant Link through a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter is a website that matches investors with entrepreneurs. Emily Lyons joined Oso specifically to help with this campaign. 

The Lyons are now Austin, Texas residents.

The two moved away from the rest of the Oso employees when Austin got a job with Intel, a company that creates computer processors.

Both continue to work for Oso from their home office.

Emily is currently completing a master's degree in mass communications at Texas State University. She said that Oso has proven to be useful while getting her master's degree. 

“It’s great to have a hands-on case for new concepts,” she said.

Plant Link has been making big moves in attracting capital. Their goal was to raise $75,000 in 30 days.

“I think it was over $84,000 this morning,” Emily said. 

Oso has future plans to sell their products in India, potentially helping subsistence-level farmers.

"We want to offer a really cheap, automated moisture-monitoring system,” Austin said. 

The Lyons have nurtured their young marriage through the toil of patenting home-gardening technology.

“There's definitely a new dimension to our marriage from innovating and creating something like this together," Austin wrote in an email. "The success is even sweeter because she's played such a big role in getting Plant Link to where it is today."

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