Bjorn Dawson is the CEO and co-founder of Grobo. They’ve developed an easy-to-use home growing system that takes the guesswork out of successfully growing small crops of high quality food and legal cannabis. Ahead of his presentation at Indoor Ag-Con in May, we asked him five questions about in home growing.
1. What’s your inspiration for Grobo? How long has it taken you to get to a viable product?
A few years ago I began growing fruits and vegetables outside and quickly fell in love with how delicious home grown food tastes. Tomatoes bursting with flavour, juicy watermelon, and crunchy carrots had me hooked on the idea of growing my own food, but our long Canadian winters make that nearly impossible. After not finding any good systems for automated growing that would fit within my home, Grobo was founded to allow everyone to easily grow plants indoors, all year long.
2. How is your Grobo One grow box different from the myriad other in home systems on the market?
In short, we focus on the plant and on the user. The first product we developed, but never launched, was called Grobo Pods and was designed to help the everyday user grow their own greens in a system that costs less than $200. To hit this price point required technical sacrifices that resulted in smaller yields and longer grow times. Throughout our development, this low-end market quickly became flooded with inefficient systems… so we went the other way: high-end and high-tech. Grobo One grow box is the best home growing system because it is extremely simple for anyone to use and always provides your plants with exactly the light, water, and nutrients they need. For example, we are the only company using far red LEDs to simulate the sunset which helps plants grow almost 10% faster.
3. In home systems get a lot of flack for being more jewelry than farm. How do you think about ensuring that your customer gets value from Grobo One?
It’s important to remember that this technology is still new and there is lots of work ahead of us to create in-home farms. Grobo One uses technology such as our 8 colour LED spectrum and precise nutrient dosing to ensure that plants grow as quickly as possible. By automating the growing cycles, we can actually save users hours each week because they no longer have to adjust the pH of their water, add nutrients, or even design their growing system to begin with. Although the economics change depending on what you grow, we truly believe that the quality of the end product will have people hooked on growing their own food.
4. You were a part of a hardware accelerator – HAX – in China. How was that experience?
From January to May 2016 our entire team was at HAX living in Shenzhen, China and it was a phenomenal experience. Shenzhen produces a mind boggling number of consumer products each year, and being at the heart of manufacturing taught us how to build a product at scale and on budget. More importantly, the Chinese mindset is to move quickly, and that is something we have taken back to our office in Canada. We now have the equipment to prototype most parts of a Grobo One in-house in under 24 hours, which allows us to constantly innovate and improve upon our products.
5. What crop would you love to see grown in a Grobo system that isn’t yet viable? When will that happen?
Personally I can’t wait to grow strawberries in my Grobo One because the squirrels have been the lucky ones to enjoy them over the past few years. We have already had success with cannabis, kale, tomatoes, peppers and many other plants, but I still can’t wait to see the wide variety of plants that our customers will grow. As shipping begins this summer, we have customers wanting to grow everything from cucumber to cauliflower to cacti and I’m excited to see it all!
See Bjorn speak at the 5th Annual Indoor Ag-Con on May 3-4, 2017
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