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$2,790 pledged of $4,500 goal
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By Everett Carney
$2,790 pledged of $4,500 goal
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About this project

Hello kickstarter, name is Everett Carney. I'm a computer scientist by trade and education and a life-long aquarium enthusiast. Over the past couple years my passion for green technology has been rapidly increasing; at the end of the summer it peaked when I finally realized that I could put a brand new spin on the classic aquarium and the increasingly popular vertical garden (or living wall). In September I started Alive and Modern; my goal is to bring live plants and minimal-maintenance aquariums to every room and office around the world. At the moment I have three functional prototypes that are almost ready to go into production and a couple more that I'm not quite ready to reveal yet (ideally I'll have these ready to reveal as stretch funding goals during this campaign). By backing and spreading the word about this project you are not just helping me bring my prototypes from concept to reality, you are validating my personal belief that the world is moving in a, literally, greener direction!

We are starting out with two different desktop-friendly aquariums and a living wall (we’ll refer to this group of products as “living structures” from here on out). Each piece is designed to bring a little bit of nature into any room in an easy to manage, very unique way.

The team. Right now we're an extremely small operation embracing the lean startup mentality. The team consists of myself and my business partner, Dick McManus. We've divided up the responsibilities that any new company has by skill set. We both physically build each living structure and we both design tools that make this process as efficient as possible. I focus on tank design and initial prototype creation while Dick focuses on optimizing my design patterns for the laser cutting process and coming up with the most efficient way to construct each structure. Dick has a background in mathematics and moonlights as a handyman; his skill set directly compliments my design and tech-heavy background. I also handle most of the business-end work: creating awareness of our project, creating our Facebook page, website, and securing a shipping partner for fulfillment were all tasks that I set up prior to launching this Kickstarter. Together we form a team that can design, produce, and ship our living structures without the need to outsource work; one of our goals is to keep all manufacturing done right here in the US by our team (depending on volume we might have to hire on additional help, we would consider that a great problem to have)!

Why should you care? Great question! Let me help you understand the benefits of live plants, flowing water, and why you want to bring nature into your home and workplace. Many studies have revealed interesting correlations between live plants and your productivity, air quality, and aesthetic at work. Some plants are better than others but, at the end of the day, all plants will benefit you and your environment in one way or another. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to reap these benefits while creating something that sets your room or office apart from the rest. This is where the aquarium portion comes in.

Technically speaking, the open-top tank with the waterfall could be considered a paludarium or riparium. These aquariums are typically reserved for advanced hobbyists with years of experience under their belt. I think that’s ridiculous! These layouts look great and, when designed properly, are very easy to maintain.

So what’s the catch? There really isn't one. I have designed these structures to be as low maintenance and cost-effective as possible. Highlights include:

  • No smell and no filters to clean; the water is naturally cleaned by the live plants!
  • Easy maintenance. All you have to do is keep the plants trimmed and, if you have an aquarium, feed the fish.
  • Grow plants that you never thought you could - Miniature orchids, bromeliads, tropical vines, mosses and aquatic plants will flourish in these soil-less displays

What we will accomplish with your help:  

  • Further tool development for our in-house production team
  • Bulk orders of parts and supplies
  • Initial shipping and packaging costs

Production and fulfillment: We will assemble all of our products by hand right here in the US. I do all of my own designing then send the layouts off to a laser cutting service (again, located in the US). I receive the pieces back and assemble the structures by hand. We are (currently) a two-man operation; in order to keep our production here in the US we need to develop new tools that will serve as templates and allow us to produce our living structures at a reasonable volume. My business partner and I have done a couple "practice runs" shipping our prototype units which have been very successful but we need a better way to scale our production while keeping costs as low as possible; we want these to be affordable! This is where our backers come in: By placing bulk orders, we will be able to drive down costs in a way that we wouldn't normally be able to doing small-scale ordering.

Building the first "Steps" prototype waterfall pieces
Building the first "Steps" prototype waterfall pieces
Dick and I hard at work building several more prototypes that are now up and running as test models!
Dick and I hard at work building several more prototypes that are now up and running as test models!

 The details! This section will receive updates as the project continues.

The "Standard" Living Wall

Our version 1 prototype for the "Standard" living wall. We are just about ready to finish a version 2 prototype - stay tuned for that in a project update!

First, some of our final dimensions for the Standard Living Wall:

  • Footprint: 10″ x 3″ (25.4 cm x 7.62 cm)
  • Height: ~7.7″ (~19.56 cm)
The finalized living wall model all planted and looking awesome!
The finalized living wall model all planted and looking awesome!
The first sketch of the Standard living wall
The first sketch of the Standard living wall
First 3D rendering of our Living Wall design
First 3D rendering of our Living Wall design

The "Steps" Aquarium:

Our first prototype ever - the "Steps" aquarium. This prototype is on display at an art store in Seattle. You can see the production "Steps" design in our feature video at the top of the page. We decided to increase the size of our final product. Each "step" of the waterfall and the aquarium itself is larger than the model shown in this video.

  • Footprint: 10″ x 7.5″ (25.4 cm x 19.05 cm)
  • Height: ~10.2″ (~25.91 cm)
  • Total volume: ~1.62 US gallons, 6.13 liters
The "Steps" intial drawing
The "Steps" intial drawing
Initial designs for the waterfall feature
Initial designs for the waterfall feature
Isometric view of the initial waterfall design
Isometric view of the initial waterfall design
First 3D rendering of the "Steps" aquarium prototype (notice how we removed the "hood" from the final)
First 3D rendering of the "Steps" aquarium prototype (notice how we removed the "hood" from the final)
Testing flow rates for the version 2 "Steps" prototype. This version has larger tier boxes to accommodate a higher flow rate.
Testing flow rates for the version 2 "Steps" prototype. This version has larger tier boxes to accommodate a higher flow rate.

The "Floating Box" Aquarium:

The "Floating Box" drip wall aquarium. I decided to showcase this tank with a single male Betta and an open aquascape. This design choice was made to show that you don't need to over-plant an aquarium to make it stand out. Interesting side note: the Betta has started to construct a bubble nest that can be seen on our Facebook page.

  • Footprint: 10″ x 7.5″ (25.4 cm x 19.05 cm)
  • Height: ~8.5″ (~21.6 cm)
  • Total volume: ~1.7 US gallons, 6.44 liters
Initial design for the "Floating Box" aquarium
Initial design for the "Floating Box" aquarium
Reverse side of the "Floating Box" aquarium
Reverse side of the "Floating Box" aquarium
First 3D rendering of the "Floating Box" aquarium
First 3D rendering of the "Floating Box" aquarium

Interested in discussing this project further? Check us out on CrowdFundingForum.com

Stretch goals coming soon!

Want minute by minute updates? Follow us on Twitter or check out our Facebook page!

Risks and challenges

Meeting our production goals is our largest challenge. Building these structures takes time. We want to speed up that process while keeping as much of the construction process in the US as possible. This is no small feat, the tools we still want to build will be pivotal to our success and ability to produce a reasonable volume of our products. We have construction time for each structure pretty low but we need to get it lower. If our project is funded we will create the necessary templates that will allow us to produce a very large volume of living structures; think of it like a small assembly line. We anticipate these tools will take about 4 weeks to create from the ground up. While not very complex, the measurements and specifications for each template need to be extremely precise to ensure water-tightness. After we have the templates we will get to work on the structures themselves! We anticipate an initial production volume of 100-150 per month which means we would be able to fulfill every single structure listed as backer rewards for this project in a little over one month. Of course we need to wait for the large-batch laser cutting to complete before we can begin construction, we anticipate this taking 2-4 weeks depending on the amount of cutting we need done. Adding this all up means approximately 3 months of development time on our end to ship out our first batch of products. We have decided on March as our delivery goal. This gives us our approximated amount of time to completion with an extra couple weeks of wiggle room in case something goes wrong with one of the laser cutting batches or we need to wait on more pumps to be sent our way.

Initial shipping and material costs are also very high. We want to drive down the costs of our products as much as possible which means buying in bulk. We aren't able to buy in bulk without the funds to do so!

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Anyone donating to this project will receive a personal thank you email from the creator of Alive and Modern outlining the long-term goals for the company and how your donation is making that possible.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Backers pledging $40 or more will receive an exclusive access to an exclusive "How to Plant Your Desk" YouTube series from the creator of Alive and Modern. The video series covers how to design aquariums and living walls to fit any space (not just the products we offer).
    BONUS: Backers at this level can opt-in for a spot on our special "Thank You" page with a link to their own website or social media account
    This reward includes reward #1

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $135 or more About $135

    The "Standard" living wall is a fully-assembled structure WITHOUT the LED light. Reward includes assembled living wall; backers will need to purchase plants and a light (if they want to grow more advanced plants). This tier includes tiers 1 and 2. Shipping outside the US is an additional $30

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  4. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    Early backer special #1! - Our "Standard" Living Wall at our early backer price. The "Standard" living wall is a fully-assembled structure that includes a screw-in LED light; all you have to do is design your layout, plant your plants and enjoy!

    Reward includes everything you need to start your living structure, just buy plants!
    This tier includes tiers 1 and 2.
    Shipping outside the US is an additional $30

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    Backers at this tier will receive our "Floating Box" desktop aquarium WITHOUT the LED light. This unique desktop aquarium is a completely new take on the standard desktop (or nano) aquarium featuring a drip wall background and a "floating" planter in the middle of the tank. This tank combines elements of modern design with the concept of a drip wall to create a completely new kind of desktop aquarium. This reward is a fully-assembled structure; backers will need to purchase plants, fish and proper lighting. This tier includes tiers 1 and 2. Shipping outside the US is an additional $30

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    Backers at this tier will receive our "Steps" desktop aquarium WITHOUT the LED light. This unique desktop aquarium is a completely new take on the standard desktop (or nano) aquarium featuring a tiered waterfall that doubles as a planter, this tank is sure to impress no matter where it's setup! This reward is a fully-assembled structure; backers will need to purchase plants, fish and proper lighting. This tier includes tiers 1 and 2. Shipping outside the US is an additional $30

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    The "Standard" living wall is a fully-assembled structure that includes a screw-in LED light; all you have to do is design your layout, plant your plants and enjoy!

    Reward includes everything you need to start your living structure, just buy plants!
    This tier includes tiers 1 and 2.
    Shipping outside the US is an additional $30

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $185 or more About $185

    Early backer special #2! - Our "Steps" desktop aquarium at a special, early backer price! This unique desktop aquarium is a completely new take on the standard desktop (or nano) aquarium featuring a tiered waterfall that doubles as a planter, this tank is sure to impress no matter where it's setup!

    This reward is a fully-assembled structure that includes a screw-in LED light, just buy plants and fish!
    This tier includes tiers 1 and 2.
    Shipping outside the US is an additional $30

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $185 or more About $185

    Early backer special #3! - Our "Floating Box" desktop aquarium at a special, early backer price! This unique desktop aquarium is a completely new take on the standard desktop (or nano) aquarium featuring a drip wall background and a "floating" planter in the middle of the tank. This tank combines elements of modern design with the concept of a drip wall to create a completely new kind of desktop aquarium.

    This reward is a fully-assembled structure that includes a screw-in LED light, just buy plants and fish!
    This tier includes tiers 1 and 2.
    Shipping outside the US is an additional $30

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Backers at this tier will receive our "Steps" desktop aquarium. This unique desktop aquarium is a completely new take on the standard desktop (or nano) aquarium featuring a tiered waterfall that doubles as a planter, this tank is sure to impress no matter where it's setup!

    This reward is a fully-assembled structure that includes a screw-in LED light, just buy plants and fish!
    This tier includes tiers 1 and 2.
    Shipping outside the US is an additional $30

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Backers at this tier will receive our "Floating Box" desktop aquarium. This unique desktop aquarium is a completely new take on the standard desktop (or nano) aquarium featuring a drip wall background and a "floating" planter in the middle of the tank. This tank combines elements of modern design with the concept of a drip wall to create a completely new kind of desktop aquarium.

    This reward is a fully-assembled structure that includes a screw-in LED light, just buy plants and fish!
    This tier includes tiers 1 and 2.
    Shipping outside the US is an additional $30

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $450 or more About $450

    Backers at this tier will receive our "Standard" living wall fully designed and planted by the creator of Alive and Modern! Covered in tropical plants; the living wall will be ready to be put on display as soon as you receive it.

    Backers at this tier will have priority email support and an optional 30-minute Skype session with the creator of Alive and Modern to answer any questions or help with future aquarium/living wall design.

    This tier includes tiers 1 and 2. Shipping is dependent on the weather, we will not ship if it is too cold for the plants.

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $475 or more About $475

    Backers at this tier receive a "Floating Box" aquarium fully designed by the creator of Alive and Modern. Due to the aquatic nature of the plants we will not be able to pre-plant these aquariums. Backers will receive all necessary materials to build their tank with a customized layout diagram. Note that this reward includes everything you need to get your aquarium up and running (substrate, rock/wood decorations, plants, NO FISH - we recommend purchasing fish at your local pet store)

    Backers at this tier will have priority email support and an optional 30-minute Skype session with the creator of Alive and Modern to answer any questions or help with future aquarium/living wall design.
    This tier includes tiers 1 and 2. Shipping is dependent on the weather, we will not ship if it is too cold for the plants.

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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 1 backer
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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $475 or more About $475

    Backers at this tier receive a "Steps" aquarium fully designed by the creator of Alive and Modern. Due to the aquatic nature of the plants we will not be able to pre-plant these aquariums. Backers will receive all necessary materials to build their tank with a customized layout diagram. Note that this reward includes everything you need to get your aquarium up and running (substrate, rock/wood decorations, plants, NO FISH - we recommend purchasing fish at your local pet store)

    Backers at this tier will have priority email support and an optional 30-minute Skype session with the creator of Alive and Modern to answer any questions or help with future aquarium/living wall design.
    This tier includes tiers 1 and 2. Shipping is dependent on the weather, we will not ship if it is too cold for the plants.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)