Who we are
As the founder of RedOrbit.com and current CEO of both Earth.com and GreenAtom.earth, Eric Ralls has long aspired to merge technology with a love for nature and our planet.
Eric is a serial entrepreneur. After graduating from Vanderbilt university with degrees in psychology and Japanese, Eric then attended Thunderbird School for International Management. Seeing the business potential of the internet, Eric then jumped into technology in the early days of the internet boom in 1998, merging the latest innovations with his love for the planet.
1998 – 2002: Founder/CEO Cosmiverse;
2002 – 2012: Founder/CEO RedOrbit;
2014 – 2016: Founder/CEO GreenAtom;
2016 – present: Founder/CEO Earth.com;
2016 – present: Founder/CEO PlantSnap
PlantSnap started as an idea in Eric’s head 5 years ago when he was traipsing through a friend’s backyard and wondered about the identity of a plant he’d stumbled across. When he asked around and no one knew, he knew he’d stumbled onto a problem that he wanted to solve. Unfortunately, the technology just wasn’t quite up to snuff just yet.
Fast forward to today – the tech is available and the team has made PlantSnap a reality. With 316,000 species and 90 million images in our database, we are currently using Deep Learning technology and artificial intelligence to help anyone, anywhere, identify any plant or tree on planet Earth!
What Sets Us Apart
PlantSnap is the most innovative, quickest and accurate plant identification app in the market. Many plant identifying apps use crowdsourcing, where it takes a few days, or even weeks, for an “expert” to offer their opinion. Here at PlantSnap, once you snap a photo, we instantly provide you with detailed information of the snapped plant with no guess-work involved. We can be used for educational purposes, commercial garden landscaping, on hikes, or during your day-to-day tasks. Make it a priority to spend time in nature to rediscover the beauty and wonder that’s right outside our doors.
A Letter From Our Founder
“In July of 2012, I was at a BBQ at a friend’s house playing corn hole when I noticed a large plant with beautiful flowers in her backyard. I asked my friend, Christine, what kind of plant it was. She said she didn’t know, and no one else at the party had any idea. At that point, I searched the internet trying to determine what type of plant it was. I started by describing the plant in the search box, to no avail. I then tried to find a website listing plants in that region, but that didn’t work either. Then one of my friends asked if there was “an app for that,” so I searched for plant identification apps, and there were none. That was my “eureka” moment…there wasn’t an easy way to identify plants, so I was going to solve that problem.
At that time, I still owned redOrbit.com, which I founded back in 2002. I asked my development team to find a way to build an app that would instantly identify a plant, flower or tree with a photo taken from your phone. After three months and tens of thousands of dollars spent, we determined that the technology just wasn’t there yet to accomplish this on a global scale. Fast forward to 2016. I was reading about a new form of technology called deep learning, or machine learning. This was a form of computer programming whereby a computer can “learn” to recognize objects through a complicated training process. Further research convinced me that this was the perfect technology for PlantSnap, so I hired an outside group of programmers to explore whether machine learning could be used to instantly identify plants. The initial results were very promising, so we built a beta version of the app in august of 2016, and since then we have been training the algorithm to ultimately recognize every known species of plants around the globe.
Now, almost five years since inception, PlantSnap has launched. With PlantSnap, I hope to bring people back to nature by putting an application on their phones that will allow them to instantly identify any plant, flower or tree simply by snapping a photo. Earth is the only planet we have, and it is our responsibility to take care of it for future generations. Life is so hectic for most of us that we rarely stop to smell the roses anymore. It is very important for us to understand that we are all a part of nature, not apart from it. I hope that PlantSnap can play a small part in helping people around the world rediscover the beauty and wonder that surrounds them every day. We’re coming to Startengine in hopes that other like-minded individuals will join us on this journey to complete our growing global plant database in a timely manner, and further our goals of stirring up excitement about getting re-acquainted with the great outdoors. By bringing people back to nature and helping them feel like they are an integral part of this amazing planet, together we can help them understand that we are stewards of the Earth, not owners.
Here’s to the future.”
CEO AND FOUNDER OF PLANTSNAP