While public opinion in Israel and worldwide is divided about the legalization of marijuana, the technological experts are not waiting. Even the almighty Microsoft is already involved. Leaf, a startup developing an automated system for cannabis cultivation, announced a $2 million seed (pun intended) funding round on Sunday.
Without odors, effort, or dirt
The Leaf cannabis growing system looks like a closet about the same size as an average mini-bar or wine refrigerator. It includes a complete climate system with a water and control system for lighting, acidity, temperature, humidity, and fertilization. At the end of the growing process, the system dries the plant so that it will be ready for consumption.
The user receives a great deal of information on their smartphone from the sensors in the system, including a HD photograph from a built-in camera. They can also control all the various parameters from their smartphone. The company’s special app accompanies the users in the growing process with detailed video clips explaining step-by-step the growing process and the various stages, and even includes a carbon filter designed to prevent odors from leaking. The system is able to grow two mature cannabis plants, or 110 grams of material, every three months.
Leaf’s system will be offered for sale in the coming weeks. Although the company did not state the price, it will apparently be around $1,000.
CEO Jonathan (Yoni) Ofir and CTO Eran Mordechay founded Leaf in 2015. The current $2 million financing round is led by CJV Capital, with participation from other investors, such as Advanced Nutrients, Phyto Partners, and angels Michael Cohn, Ben Biron and Gregg Weiss.
Obviously, in the first stage, the system is aimed at the audience that consumes medical marijuana: a growing group. To understand the company’s potential market, however, it is important to keep in mind that while 19 U.S. states already allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, another five states also allow marijuana use for recreational purposes; both of these numbers are expected to increase in the coming years. In the state of Colorado alone, the medical cannabis market is estimated at $408 million a year, with the pleasure smoking market turnover estimated at $588 million.
There is a similar solution in the market offered by Grobo, which also offers a system for growing and controlling directly from the app. However, this product is designed differently and the company is also aiming its solution at the general market, not just for cannabis growing.