Nicolas Ruiz is the Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer of Cloudponics, @cloudponics, the fully automated hydroponic grow system that can produce high-quality and high-volume yields of cannabis at home. He is responsible for guiding the company’s product and technology development as well as broader product vision.
We caught up with Nicolas before MJ BizCon started. Learn more about him and his company Cloudponics and their flagship product, the GroBox.
What is your background and what is your relationship with cannabis?
Nicolas Ruiz: I’m a civil engineer and a father of 2 girls, with a great passion for cannabis and specifically for growing it. Cannabis has been a significant influence in my life ever since I started consuming it almost 20 years ago. It helped me open my mind and have more empathy, becoming an all around better person. Since cannabis had such a major positive impact in my life, I’ve made it my life’s mission to help people have access to better quality and more affordable cannabis, by developing technology that allows anyone to grow at home without previous experience.
Can you give us a short description of the cool products of Cloudponics?
Nicolas Ruiz: The flagship is the GroBox, which is a fully automated grow cabinet that allows regular people without previous plant growing experience to grow up to 12 ounces in just 3 months. It’s roughly the size of a fridge and it has a beautiful wood finish that blends naturally into homes. It is odorless and has a lock that is controlled by an app. The system is preset with over 80 cannabis strains grow recipes. We also have the GroControl which is the brain of the GroBox, which we sell separately for customers who already have a grow room that needs to be automated. The perfect pair for the GroControl is our Air Force One, which is an aeroponic system based on the GroBox.
Where are your products manufactured and what inspired you to invent these products?
Nicolas Ruiz: Our products are manufactured in the US, with components being manufactured both in California and in Indiana. I’ve been secretly growing in my closet for the better part of the past 10 years. I started growing early on with hydroponics, which is a great way to grow if you get things right, but you can easily mess your grow up if you get things wrong. I would go away to the beach for a weekend and come back to find my plants dead. I spent a long time looking for some sort of automation. After I figured there was nothing out there for individual growers, I decided to take a stab at it and invent it myself.
GroBox is the first fully automated hydroponic grow system. Can you tell us the awesome features of GroBox?
Nicolas Ruiz: Absolutely! The GroBox can grow up to 6 plants at a time with aeroponics. Users can yield up to 12 ounces in 3 months (depending on strain). It has a carbon activated filter that removes any odor and has a lock that is controlled by the app. We have a growing list of 80+ strains that users can pick from, as well as a generic indica, sativa and hybrid based grow recipe. It has an autonomy of 3-4 weeks before water needs to be added. Considering the significant yield that’s produced by the GroBox, it pays for itself after just 1 grow.
Can you share to us some of the difficulties you encountered while growing a business in the cannabis industry?
Sure. When we started 4 years ago, cannabis investment was less available than it is today, specially when it’s for a hardware company. We have had to both develop and bring to market our products while being a lean team. Even with better funded competitors, we were able to be the first players in the market and now have a very healthy month by month grow and have delivered over 300 GroBoxes across the US.
What advice can you give to the aspiring ganjapreneurs?
Nicolas Ruiz: Starting your own business is tough, especially if you’re in the cannabis business. Being an entrepreneur is not suitable for most people. You will have to deal with frustration pretty much on a daily basis. The only way to power through the lows, is to have a passion and drive for what you’re doing that defies logic. It may be years of frustration before you catch your break. Being an entrepreneur sounds very glamorous and you usually hear the success stories, but behind every success story there’s a lot of late night work and frustration. So before jumping into your ganjapreneur adventure, make sure you’re willing to do a lot of sacrifices and roll your sleeves up before you actually make it.
Thanks Nicolas and best of luck to you and Cloudponics during the MJ Biz Conference! To learn more about Nicolas and his company, head on over to their website, Cloudponics.com