We Spoke With The Canadian Startup Disrupting The Home-Grow

The Grobo One is leading the next wave of cannabis cultivation for personal use.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed legislation to legalize the recreational use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis for Canada’s adults over the age of 18. Though medical marijuana has been legal for our northern neighbors since 2001, recreational weed consumption has been a hotly debated topic within the Canadian cannabis discussion, with home cultivation being particularly problematic for lawmakers and MMJ patients alike. But as part of the new law (should it be approved), Canadians will be allowed to grow up to four plants on their own.

Grobo is the Waterloo-based startup behind the Grobo One, a product empowering home growers to raise their own cannabis and other small fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, basil, lemons, and kale. And soon, they might just be the go-to option for the consumer who values knowing the source of their food and medicine. Before the product even launched, the Grobo One sold out mostly via pre-order. And with 4/20 just behind us, the company recently began shipping out the product.

KINDLAND spoke with Grobo co-founder and CEO Bjorn Dawson to learn more about the startup’s vision, including the simplified hydroponic cultivation process that uses less energy than a typical refrigerator. On top of all that, it allows would-be home-growers to check in on the plant's progress via smartphone. Welcome to the future. 

KINDLAND: So, tell us about the Grobo One.

Bjorn Dawson/Grobo: It’s a hydroponic grow box. [Users] plant their favorite seed in it, and then tell the app exactly what seed that is––in the case of cannabis, what strain it is as well. And then the [Grobo One] automates the whole growing process. Automatic PH adjustment, nutrient dosing––it even monitors temperature adjustments and humidity. We designed an LED lighting system in-house, so you have control over how tall your plant grows, how wide it grows––all of those factors. The key thing that a lot of cannabis growers are excited about is the automatic door-lock. So that keeps the [growing] environment safe. The fluid glass allows you to see the cannabis growing, but when it’s supposed to be dark out, especially during the flowering stage as that night-time cycle is very important, the glass switches automatically to be opaque, so that the plant won’t hermaphrodite on you.

“There is a whole new generation of products that people aren’t considering, that do fit into the home-growing space.”

KINDLAND: Do you see your target consumer demographic using the product more for medicinal or rec purposes?

Bjorn Dawson/Grobo: It’s a mix. I would say that it leads more toward medicinal, probably because there are more places where [medical marijuana] is legal. We also see a number of medicinal patients purchasing the product for their parents or a medicinal patient that they know, and they’re trying to help them out. We can grow quite a bit of cannabis in our system, so down the road, I think we’ll see some more recreational patients once some of the laws [change and take effect.] California is a hot spot for us. It’s a tech hub that was early in the medicinal cannabis game, with legislation coming in place for the recreational side.

KINDLAND: What are the company’s thoughts on Trudeau’s recently proposed legislation?

Bjorn Dawson/Grobo: Everybody is talking about the [up to] 14-year sentencing for dealing to children, and that is sort of the hot topic. On our side, we really look at home-growing. I like that you can grow four plants. We’ll see what happens with individual provinces having a little bit more power in deciding how that is put in place and enforced. I’ve been watching, and am interested in, landlords coming out and landlord associations trying to stop home-growing. We’re interested in how we can fit into the system and make sure that the regulations are fair. A system like ours: You pop it in, it’s fully approved for electrical, you don’t have the risk of [starting a] fire. There is a whole new generation of products that people aren’t considering that does fit into the home-growing space. We still think there is some work that we have to do to make sure that people recognize what home-growing actually looks like today.

"The demand for the license to home-grow as a medicinal patient, is absolutely off the chart."

KINDLAND: Can you offer any insight into the current weed scene in Canada?

Bjorn Dawson/Grobo: It’s so interesting. If you spend some time in Vancouver, it’s similar to what you guys see in California. On the West Coast, there are more dispensaries out there that aren’t being closed as quickly, they’re licensed by the local governments. You talk to people that tell you about dinner parties where instead of opening a bottle of wine, they’ll smoke up or try a different strain. That’s becoming part of the social lifestyle. On the East Coast, we’re not seeing that as much––areas such as Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal––they’re enforcing the laws quite a bit more strictly. We’re not seeing that [social] shift yet, but people are pushing for it. Once legalization comes through, we’ll begin to see more of these shifts throughout the rest of Canada. A lot of the licensed producers here are working on exporting deals and deals outside of Canada. Their quality-––from what I’m hearing––is quite low, so it will be interesting to see if they can step that up a bit. The demand for the license to home-grow as a medicinal patient is absolutely off the chart. If you apply today, it will likely take you about three months to hear back from the government. 

Grobo re-opened orders for the Grobo One on 4/20. Reserve yours here.

All images courtesy of Grobo.