This sleek home grow solution looks like something Apple would make if they were in the cannabis space, it’s just beautiful. Leaf’s simple app can educate you and help you monitor your grow to make growing cannabis plants simple and fun.
Learn more at: http://www.getleaf.co
[1:04] – Yoni’s background
[2:33] – Yoni talks about his first company that he sold
[3:36] – What is Leaf
[4:25] – Yoni talks about the specs of Leaf
[4:43] – Who is the ideal customer of the Leaf
[6:24] – Yoni talks about Leaf’s management software
[8:41] – Yoni explains what happens between the vegetative & flower state
[10:21] – How do the different strains grow in the Leaf
[12:33] – Yoni compares the Leaf to a tent grow
[15:11] – How the app guides first time growers through the process
[17:28] – Yoni discusses how nutrients are provided to the plant
[18:51] – How does Leaf control the odor of the grow
[20:57] – Yoni discusses pricing of Leaf
[22:31] – Yoni talks about his co-founder with Leaf
[24:12] – Yoni talks about his experience with Canopy Boulder
[27:09] – Investment opportunities in Leaf and contact information
Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday and Wednesday look for a fresh new episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Are you looking for a fulfilling and lucrative career in the cannabis industry? Visit www.cannainsider.com/careers. That’s www.cannainsider.com/careers. Now here’s your program.
As part of an ongoing series to chronicle the innovation that is occurring in the cannabis industry, I will be profiling entrepreneurs from Canopy Boulder, the first cannabis accelerator here in Boulder, Colorado. Today I will be welcoming to the show Yoni Ofir who will be telling us about his incredible all-in-one grow environment and management system called Leaf. Welcome to CannaInsider Yoni.
Yoni: Thank you Matt. Thank you for having me.
Matthew: Yoni, before we dive into what Leaf does let’s talk about your background a little bit. Can you give us a little summary?
Yoni: Sure when I was 18 I was recruited to the Israeli military. That’s where I’m from, from Israel. For almost three years I was a safety NCO and I was responsible for combat safety, training safety and even vehicular safety in the military. And a crazy statistic, between 2007 and 2010 when I was serving there were more soldiers that died from drunk driving than combat which was crazy.
And one of my unit, one of the soldiers in my unit and I we decided to come up with a solution and a year later we created a company called Alcohoot and subsequently we created the world’s first smartphone breathalyzer. And the idea was if you can something sleek and small into people’s hands and attach the smartphone capabilities to that, the people would feel comfortable using it. And so that’s what we did. We worked on that company for about three years. It was really successful. And the product, you can still find in Target and Bloomingdale’s nationwide with partnerships with Heineken and other large companies. And we ended up selling the company this past December.
Matthew: How accurate is the alcohol readings from the device on the phone?
Yoni: The Alcohoot is police grade. It’s using top of the line police grade fuel cell sensors. So accuracy is comparable with the law enforcement units, but again we always recommend people to never drink anything and drive. This is something to get to know your body a little bit better and how it reacts to alcohol.
Matthew: Interesting. And were there people using it in ways that you hadn’t imagined, different groups or demographics that started to use it in different ways?
Yoni: I think that there were a lot of great stories that, you know, really filled our hearts like oh I was about to drive and then someone let me use this and I saw I couldn’t, things like that. But not, I wouldn’t say something that’s completely unexpected, not off the top of my mind anyway. But it was always great to get feedback from people and they enjoyed the product and that made us happy.
Matthew: Now let’s dive into what you’re doing with your new business Leaf. What is Leaf exactly?
Yoni: Leaf is a homegrow system that automatically grows cannabis and is controlled by your smartphone. And what we do is we take the industrial grade technology of grow automation and we bring it to the consumer in a visually pleasing product. So we’re not talking about just functionality. It’s also very beautiful and fits any home décor so that you don’t have to have this eye sore in your house.
Matthew: Yeah and to give a visual impression, I mean, I’ve seen some renderings of this and it kind of looks like if Apple were to make a grow cabinet, that’s what it would kind of look like I would say. Can you give us some dimensions on this, on how large it is?
Yoni: The Leaf System is 4 foot high and then by 2 feet by 2 feet.
Yoni: So imagine kind of like a mini refrigerator.
Matthew: Who do you anticipate will be buying the Leaf? Is this for consumers, anybody, labs, I mean who is the ideal customer?
Yoni: This is a consumer product hands down, and what we’ve seen is that the consumers split up into two categories. There are home growers, cannabis home growers that are already growing today and they love the idea for this system because it will save them a tremendous amount of time because the system is fully automated and remotely controlled by your smart phone, you don’t have to be around your plants every single day. And you only need to be there when you really need to be there. And that’s the main selling point for people that are already homegrowing.
Then the second segment are people that never thought to homegrow because they just in their mind they think well this is too difficult. I don’t have time for this. I have a full time job. I got kids. I’m not even going to dive into this, and then they see Leaf and they say to themselves wow this seems really easy. I connect it to my wi-fi, the smartphone app takes me through every step of the grow. I can do that. I can use a smartphone app, and it really is that simple. So really any consumer and even people who are already homegrowing and have knowledge are interested in this, and we’re really happy about that.
Matthew: Now let’s talk about the management on the app. I mean a lot of times we think about growers having some sort of esoteric knowledge that’s imparted to them on a mountain top when there’s a full moon, but it really comes down to measuring variables and understanding what those variables are then controlling the environment of those variables. So in the management software on the app, how does that work? What are you controlling and measuring?
Yoni: Well first of all I think you’re right in saying that up until today, most of this knowledge was sort of like passed down or sometimes you go on internet forums and you try and figure. There’s not really a one-stop resource for figuring out how to grow properly. With that being said, there’s also many ways to grow. So our system is a full hydroponic system, and what we test, there’s six different sensors in the Leaf System. There’s a water ph, total dissolved solid so PPM that’s in the water, water temperature. And then in the ambient air we have air temperature, relative humidity, light intensity, and we also test for the water level so we can tell you when to water your plants.
And what we’ve done is we’ve taken it a step forward and not only are we giving you real time analytics of all the sensor data, but we’re also automatically doing a few things based off of that feedback. So we have a nutrient dosing system that will automatically dispense the proper amount of nutrients at the right time depending on the sensor data, how much PPM is in the water, and also depending on the life cycle of the plant. Is it in vegetative, what week of vegetative? Is it in flower, what week of flower? And so that is all done automatically as well as the ph balancing. It’s continuously testing the water ph and dispensing ph up or down solution based off what level you want to keep it at.
So those are kind of the tedious tasks that people need to do almost every day, and we do that automatically so that you can actually go and live your life and not have to be around the plant every single day if you don’t want to.
Matthew: So that’s an interesting point, you know, talking about veg versus flower. A lot of times in greenhouses and different grows those two steps are in different places . They’re in different rooms, but you’re going to have it in this one housing. Can you describe what changes between flower or between vegetative state and flower?
Yoni: Well the big difference is the light cycle. When we flip the light cycle to 12 hours light, 12 hours darkness that’s when the plant knows to go in to flowing mode. And that’s the big difference. The other difference is we use different nutrients during flower. The plant needs different things when it’s flowering to produce big fat buds. And those are the real big differences.
In greenhouses it’s separate a lot of times because they’re doing continuous harvests. So as soon as they harvest one crop they want to get the other one into the flowering room. And so it’s a continuous cycle. For us it’s a self-contained system and you know will start from seed or from clone all the way to harvest and then go again. Do we think that there are going to be customers that will purchase two systems, one for veg and one flower? Absolutely.
Matthew: Yeah great point. Now growing from seed or a clone it’s up to the customer I’m imagining to find these seeds and clones, but I mean the box is, you mentioned, about 4 foot high and very attractive looking as I mentioned your rendering. It’s kind of a show piece versus something you want to hideaway in a closet. It’s very aesthetically pleasing, but there’s a lot of questions people have like hey if I have an indica versus a sativa, does this take care of it all? I mean aren’t those supposed to grow to 6 or 7 feet high sometimes? You know, there’s questions like that. What would you say?
Yoni: There’s definitely many different types of strains and they grow differently. The sativas grow generally taller. The indicas are more bushier. We are testing a bunch of different strains in our beta systems or I should say alpha systems. And I believe that what’s going to happen is we’re going to have some recommended strains out the door that we recommend using and that we will have recommended settings for within the app. And with that said we’re also working on figuring out how do we instruct the user if they decide to go with their own strain. If it normally is taller, how do we keep it lower and bushier whether it’s training or you know there’s a bunch of different ways. And I don’t think we have all the answers about all the strains because there’s just probably thousands, but we will try and accommodate as much as possible while still keeping it extremely easy for the user to use.
You know we’re working on a lot of different things. One of them being, you know for example, we decided that normally you have lighting on the top of the system and the plants grow towards the light which makes sense. But if we introduced side lighting all around the plant. And we’re testing it. We’ll see you know are the plants going to actually grow a little bit more bushier because we’re giving them supplemental side lighting. So that’s just to give you an idea of like the R and D process that goes into it and all the thought that’s gone into this system.
Matthew: Yeah. Now there’s a lot of first time growers that try tents. And tents kind of stink for a lot of different reasons. I mean they can work, but they’re never a long term solution. They kind of get busted up and they kind of take on parts of the humidity of the plant and all these different things can happen to a tent where it’s just not optimal. How do you compare the Leaf to a tent grow?
Yoni: Well first of all I would say that the tent grows, you know, the normal dimensions of them it’s really taking basically a refrigerator and putting it in your living room, in your basement or wherever. It’s a complete eye sore. So most people don’t want that commitment to put something this big and quite frankly ugly in their house. So that’s the first thing that we’re trying to solve, making it more accessible and more I guess socially acceptable. Like you mentioned earlier it’s kind of more like a show piece that sort of blends in with your décor.
But in regards to the functionality because we’re building a fully customized all-in-one system which includes absolutely everything, including the lighting, the ventilation, the sensors, the dosing, everything, we’re able to create the most optimal environment for the plant. Normally when you purchase a tent, you know, you purchase the tent and then you have to purchase the lighting from someone else and ventilation from someone else, and there’s different types of solutions. The tent is kind of like a one size fits all for all the different hardware out there. And you create these hardware combinations that aren’t necessarily 100 percent ideal. And with Leaf you’re getting something that is 110 percent optimized for the system, for its size, for everything.
Matthew: Now a lot of times too with tents and kind of these imperfect grow environments they kind of lend themselves more to powdery mildew, spider mites and things like that. So I imagine having such a controlled, locked down environment it greatly reduces the possibility of powdery mildew and spider mites and things like that, but also the stress. I mean there’s a lot of stress to being a first time grower because there’s all these things you just don’t know. And then when something goes wrong, it goes wrong and you say well what’s going to go wrong next because you just really don’t know what’s happening. You’re still learning as you go. It’s kind of like, they say building… taking off with an airplane while you’re building it. So there’s a lot of stress involved there and I think something like this can really bring down that stress level by controlling the variables and kind of have a helping hand. Now in terms of guiding a first time grower is that done all on the app where you say okay you just got your unit, let’s walk you through it or how will that work?
Yoni: Yeah that is going to be our secret sauce even though it’s not a secret, but it’s all about execution right. So the mobile app from the second that you get your system in the mail or wherever, it’s going to guide you through everything, the set up process, getting it connected to your wi-fi and you know setting up the entire system, making sure that you’ve set it up properly in an easy to understand way. Whether it will be videos or images. We’ll figure out the medium that works best. And you know then moving on if you’re going from seed, how to germinate the seeds, you know, what it needs to look like through every stage. It’s really the idea here is that you’re going to have a professional grower in your pocket. And at every stage of the plant it will let you know what to do.
What’s really interesting is that our system has a live camera in it so that you can also see your plant in real time from anywhere. And we’re working on a set of algorithms that would essentially, from that camera feed, will understand the height of the plant, some of the colors and it can make some predictions on the health of the plant, is this a good time to switch to flower based on how many days it’s been in veg and the height and things like that. So it’s really a dynamic system. In my opinion it is truly a smart system. We hear about a lot of smartphone connected devices, but are they really smart. Do they really take in the data that they provide you and are they dynamic with that data? Is there real feedback? And that’s what I would consider a smart system and that’s what Leaf is doing.
Matthew: Now in terms of soil and nutrients and things like that since this is such a controlled environment with a uniformed footprint where everybody has the same box, will nutrients be like a k-cup type model where you’ll pop in a pod or will soil be the same thing. So it’s really just as simple as just popping it into the right place at the right time via what the app says?
Yoni: So we are doing a hydroponic grow. So there’s no soil. The plants are grown completely in water.
Matthew: Okay makes sense.
Yoni: Yeah. That actually allows us, it’s easier to control that from our perspective because we have sensors that are in the water all the time. And in regards to the nutrients you pretty much hit the nail on the head. It is kind of like an espresso capsule model where we have our recommended nutrients and they’re in pods and you can almost imagine like ink toner for your printer. They come in these cartridges and you just click them in and that’s the model that we’re going for. So each pod, we have six pods for the different grow cycles, and those should last you for an entire grow and you can restock them from us.
Matthew: Okay. So one thing I’m curious about is that for cannabis plant you have to be cycling in new air and old air out and that creates a fragrance let’s say, and it smells good but I’m sure a lot of people that have, you know, in their condo in a high rise and they want a Leaf don’t want the whole floor to reek, even though it’s a pleasant smell. So how will you deal with that?
Yoni: The system has a carbon filter, an active carbon filter attached to the fan that extracts the air out of the system, and that active carbon will neutralize any smell. So it’s not only odor proof, it’s also light proof and it’s also quiet. We’re using really really quiet fans and our LED lighting system also has no fans which is unique. So part of this is trying to get it to be a part of your home, a part of the décor in your home or at least if you… for you to feel comfortable for that to happen. If you end up putting it in your garage then that’s up to you. But part of the odor neutralization is so that it really can just be anywhere and no one needs to notice it if they don’t need to.
Matthew: Now as you approach harvest there’s a period of time where typically the plant is flushed, the roots are flushed with water to get any kind of fertilizer, nutrients out of the plant. Is that something that’s where you control it right on the app and say okay time to increase water here towards the end, towards harvest?
Yoni: Yep, definitely that’s something that we control, or I should say recommend. You know, this would be our recommendation at this stage to start flushing which basically means, especially in a hydroponic system, it’s a little easier. We completely change the water out so there’s no nutrients left in the water and the plant is just taking in fresh water. And eventually it will use up all the nutrients that it’s built in its leaves and everything and it will be… that’s what flushing is and we’ll be able to give a recommendation on when to start that. And it depends you know on the strain and it depends on a few other factors, but we’ll be able to give a good recommendation for that for sure.
Matthew: Now is there any ideas in terms of price yet or is it too early?
Yoni: It’s a little early, but our commitment is, you know, we’re working on this system growing you 4 ounces of dried, high quality cannabis. And we’re trying to have the cost of the unit not be more than what retail in certain locations would cost you for those 4 ounces. So it will be probably somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500, and if you’ve tried growing before, you know that you’re spending hundreds and close to $1,000 and sometimes more on your setup depending how fancy you get. But something comparable today would cost around that much. And there is no automation and there’s no smartphone app, and you’re not saving your time and you’re not saving… and it’s not being made easy for you. So it’s a high end product. It’s not going to be cheap, but at the same time you’re going to be getting tremendous value for your money and a long lasting product that really pays for itself maximum within six months. So that’s the value that we’re trying to provide here.
Matthew: Yeah I mean if you can break even after one or two harvests that’s a no brainer. I can’t wait to see one in person and see how it works. It’s an incredible idea. Now tell us a little bit about your partner that does the design because he’s really doing a good job and did you work with him in your previous company?
Yoni: Yeah my co-founder Evan, him and I work together on Alcohoot on the breathalyzer product, and it was kind of a match made in heaven. You know at the beginning you just contract work from someone and you don’t expect to get so close to them. So we worked on this for three years. We have an awesome, awesome working relationship. And when I started working on this product it was obvious that we need to construct an absolute, rock star team, especially engineering and design.
So he owns and industrial design studio and he’s been doing consumer electronics and medical products for over ten years, really from the concept stage all the way, seeing it through to manufacturing. So he’s on the team. We also have two amazing industrial designers in addition to him, and another hardware engineer full time. So we really have a stellar team. Some of our advisors, you know, that are active in the company have worked for NASA and they’re working on some amazing lighting products and we’re really really excited. I think the main thing that excites me the most is that everyone is just as excited about this as I am, and that gets me up in the morning.
Matthew: Yeah for sure and I’m excited too. Now tell us a little bit about Canopy Boulder, this accelerator that you’re in here in Boulder, Colorado because people know what accelerators are. They’ve heard of Techstars or Y Combinator, but what’s your personal experience been like being part of an accelerator?
Yoni: Well for some background Canopy is currently the only accelerator for the cannabis market. We are currently in the first class of Canopy which is beyond exciting for a lot of reasons, but more to the point about the program. This is really Techstars for cannabis. And I came here from Israel, I think it’s been seven weeks now, and I feel like I’ve, you know, been completely immersed in this industry in a second. The second I got here we were getting the right connections to the right advisors, mentors, investors, which investors being the most important part and also the one that is kind of they’ve put a lot of emphasis on, I don’t know if they’ve put emphasis on it or it’s just naturally we’re attracting a lot of attention, but it’s been amazing and I’ve learned a lot.
I didn’t know what to expect coming into kind of an early stage, pre-seed accelerator. I’ve never done that, and it’s been one of the better decisions that I’ve made. You know, they’re accepting applications for their Fall program now on www.canopyboulder.com and really anyone that is interested in this industry and thinks that it’s a good time to enter, and I’m telling you guys this is a good time to enter.
Matthew: I agree.
Yoni: Right before it completely, you know, explodes. I would suggest signing up for Canopy Boulder and making your way out to beautiful Boulder, Colorado.
Matthew: What a ringing endorsement. Thanks for that Yoni. Now just one final question about the box before we close. What kind of lighting is going to be in there, because there’s a lot of lighting enthusiasts. Is it going to be LED? Is it going to be traditional lighting? How big is it going to be? Will it take up a lot of electricity? Do you have any of those things figured out right now?
Yoni: So I will say that it’s an LED lighting solution. I don’t want to get too deep into it because actually there’s a lot of proprietary stuff that’s going into our lighting. I sort of mentioned we’re working with some advisors from another company, they’re a lighting company. It’s a very unique LED light that will provide exactly what people need. They’re not going to need to change any bulbs. It’s absolutely spectacular what these guys have built, and I can’t really go into it too much, but it’s going to be an LED light. That’s as much as I can say right now, but it’s really really amazing.
Matthew: Now are you accepting new investors for Leaf?
Yoni: We are in the middle of our seed round right now. It’s been great. I’ve done fundraising before and you know it’s normally like this struggle, and I’m not saying that this is not a struggle, but there’s a lot of interest and we are still accepting, we still have some room in the round. So definitely would love to hear from anyone that’s interested.
Matthew: And how can potential investors reach out to you?
Yoni: They can email me directly. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org or through our website, www.getleaf.co and just the contact form, it will get right to me. We’re still at that stage where I’m taking on every single customer inquiry so I can get a feel for what people want and need.
Matthew: And are you on Twitter as well?
Yoni: yeah I’m on Twitter @joniofir.
Matthew: Okay. Well Yoni thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today I really appreciate it, and I want to encourage CannaInsider listeners to reach out to Leaf and say thank you for being on the show and what you learned and what you liked. I’m really excited about this. Can’t wait to see this come into fruition. So thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today Yoni, we really appreciate it.
Yoni: Thank you. Just one last word also for all the listeners we’re taking sign-ups for our early adopters program. So people that want to try the product early and be able to give us feedback, so that’s also on our website www.getleaf.co and I can’t wait to hear from people and I can’t wait to hear what they think and what they want and incorporate that into this product.
Matthew: Great I’m glad you mentioned that. Thanks Yoni.
Yoni: Thank you Matt.
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