Startup Spotlight: Lebanon-Based Agritech YY Regen Aims To Transform How The Nation's Farming Sector Is Powered YY Regen's services are spread across three verticals: renewable energy solutions, sustainable agriculture, and reliable and sustainable water solutions.
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The following is a profile on one of the six startups that have been chosen to be in the second edition of PepsiCo's Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition- an annual program to support regional entrepreneurs or startups that are tackling a variety of climate-related challenges.
The economic downturn that shook Lebanon in 2020 exacerbated an energy crisis that had already been a major cause of the concern for the nation, and in the midst of such a state of affairs, it's no surprise that the country's farming businesses have been hit hard. "The onset of the Lebanese economic crisis, coupled with the escalating fuel prices worldwide due to geopolitical instabilities, worsened the energy security situation, which led to a significant unmet demand in Lebanon for access to energy," Hasan Jaafar, co-founder and COO of Beirut-based agritech and renewable energy startup YY Regen, says.. "This underserved need prompted us, a team of passionate engineers, to introduce an alternative solution to the market. Our goal was to specifically address the issue of high capital costs associated with fixed solar systems, and the reliance on polluting and expensive diesel generators."
YY Regen was thus launched in May 2021 by Jaafar along with Amer Khayyat and Dr. Munira Khayyat. The startup's vision was to transform the way agricultural ventures are powered, watered, and grown through the use of affordable and less pollutive solutions. Its services, therefore, are spread across three verticals: renewable energy solutions, sustainable agriculture, and reliable and sustainable water solutions.
When it comes to renewable energy, YY Regen offers services such as solar photovoltaic systems as well as biogas systems. Meanwhile, its sustainable agriculture solutions include vertical farming and beekeeping, whereas its sustainable water solutions see it offering improved irrigation systems and solar water pumping. "YY ReGen thus offers a holistic approach that addresses multiple challenges in the agriculture sector," Jaafar says. "Our solutions provides efficiency, sustainability, and resilience, and empowers our customers to achieve long-term success, while minimizing environmental impact. As for the technologies we adopt, the products come with internet of things (IoT) functionalities that allow for remote system monitoring and control, resulting in enhanced system performance and uptime. We are also developing the first generative pre-trained transformer-powered chatbot trained in addressing troubleshooting and technical difficulties faced by our customers. This feature will give us a great advantage in our scaleup phase, as we anticipate it would decrease maintenance costs."
But if there is one particular aspect of YY Regen's services that its team takes immense pride in, it is in their claim that the startup is "the first and only company in the MENA region to provide on-demand renewable-energy-as-a-service." According to Jaafar, it is an approach that enables customers to benefit from clean energy, without having to worry about the initial capital investment.
Source: YY Regen
One such offering is the ReGen-R8, an on-demand solar energy system based on the energy-as-a-service (EaaS) model. "Our focus was primarily on farmers and rural businesses who lacked the means to afford traditional solar systems," Jaafar says. "With ReGen-R8, we aimed to provide a cheaper, cleaner, and capital-free option for accessing clean power. Our approach involved removing the complexities and uncertainties typically associated with electricity provision by adopting a customer-centric mindset. We prioritized understanding the challenges faced by our customers, and delivering tailored solutions to meet their specific needs. Our EaaS model enables easy and seamless access to clean power, empowering farmers, and rural businesses to meet their energy requirements, without the burden of upfront capital investments, or the environmental drawbacks of traditional energy sources."
In a bid to add further financial flexibility for its clients, all of YY Regen's services are also offered on a rental commercial business model. "We charge customers only for the electricity consumed, and offer two payment options available: a fixed monthly subscription fee, or pay-as-you-use," Jaafar explains.
With over $175,000 from various startup programs as well as $70,000 from personal funds already under its belt, Jaafar hopes. that being chosen to be a part of the second edition of PepsiCo's Greenhouse Accelerator Program will allow YY Gen to further prove its credibility, as well as to validate its innovative approach. "The program's objectives and benefits perfectly matched our business needs and goals, and we realized it would be a win-win if we were to participate," he says. "One of the most important business targets we hope to accomplish is sustainable scaleup and market expansion. From the product side, we hope to implement product refinements particularly the artificial intelligence-powered chatbot and other remote-control features. On the business side, we seek to strengthen our industry partnerships within the PepsiCo ecosystem, and we hope to increase our revenues by at least 30% by developing effective marketing strategies and consumer engagement initiatives to raise awareness about the benefits of our solution."
And while scaling and improving will remain a key element of YY Gen's plans for the next few months, the startup's end goal is crystal clear for Jaafar and his team. "We aspire to expand both nationally and internationally, while maintaining our commitment to sustainability and customer satisfaction," Jaafar declares. "Ultimately, our goal is to contribute to a more sustainable food system, positively impacting the health and well-being of consumers and the environment in the MENA region."