by Arick Wong
With Colorado’s recent law permitting the personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes, entrepreneurs, cultivators and software engineers have jumped aboard the cannabis train. The boom brought Colorado $10.8 million in taxes in the first four months of legal marijuana sales. To help optimize the growing industry, GrowBuddy was created to bring the cannabis garden to the digital era.
GrowBuddy is an app that tracks the cannabis plant’s life cycle and helps cultivators make more informed growing decisions using historical user data. Rob Rusher, CEO of GrowBuddy, found inspiration in his own experiences growing. “Most people just use pen and paper, white boards, or sticky notes,” said Rusher. “When we saw their Stone Age way of capturing this data, we knew we could do better.”
GrowBuddy manages marijuana growth and meticulously documents the plants’ age, strain, growth stage, and water intake. Tracking the whole life cycle of the marijuana plant, the app offers useful tips and analytics to maximize yield. All the data is anonymous and encrypted and cultivators have access to it. This joint effort between cultivators and engineers will provide a database that helps growers make better decisions and get better results.
The growth of marijuana first starts with the germination process: the seeds crack open and the seedling produces a root. This stage takes between one to three weeks, followed by the seedling stage that lasts between one and three weeks. Hands-on management helps increase yield even in these early stages. In the seedling stage, for instance, the stems are lanky and should be tied to stakes to support the plant’s growth. As the plant matures, it will produce more leaves and require more nutrients.
Marijuana is a dioecious plant, meaning that it has either male or female flowers but not both. The most valuable part of the marijuana plant is the flower, which covered in sticky hairs filled with oil. In botanical terms, these sticky hairs are called trichromes, otherwise known as kief. The trichromes have the most concentrated amount of THC, the active compound that gives marijuana its potency. Only the female flowers are harvested, and any male plants are immediately removed. Female flowers ought not be pollinated, as pollination will drive seed production as opposed to flower production.
The amount of nutrients, water, and sunlight the marijuana plants receive is vital to its growth. GrowBuddy can easily record waterings for multiple plants simultaneously and calculate the amount of nutrients each plant needs, leading to the highest yields possible.
Situated in Denver, Colorado, the GrowBuddy team is based out of Thrive Workplace and currently employs six people. They are interested in expanding, hoping to eventually hire a marketing director and more software developers. “Since our staff is spread out, the coworking spaces have allowed us to grow as needed without having to plan or even think about how to handle growth,” said Rusher.
Despite the commercial success of industry products and services like GrowBuddy, some companies still hesitate about doing business with the cannabis industry. Apple restricts certain cannabis apps in the App Store, and many companies will not publicly support the industry. In states where cannabis is legal, however, the industry is thriving.
The cannabis market is still new and Rusher is optimistic. “Cannabis is no different than corn—it’s a plant. There are innumerable businesses that support or are dependent on the corn industry. Now imagine if corn had been illegal for the last 80 years.”
Check out GrowBuddy at www.growbuddy.com.