Keep your foot on the gas pedal, and keep pushing forward.
Nicolas Ruiz is the Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer of 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.
Where did the idea for Cloudponics come from?
It originally started as a hobby. A civil engineer by profession, I would grow cannabis at home in my spare time and loved the process and reward of growing plants. However, I’d grow frustrated with how easy it was for plants to die, especially if I’d choose to head to the beach for a weekend and leave my plants unattended. As a result, I researched automated home growing products and quickly realized that there were no solutions available. The inspiration for Cloudponics grew from this passion and pain of home growing, and we hope to allow every-day people grow healthy plants without the time constraints.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day includes a morning call with co-founder and CEO Pepijn van der Krogt (we work from home), discussing the goals for the day. I check on the vitals for all the Cloudponics units that are running, and if anything requires my attention I address it and have our engineer Sebastian check that particular unit. During the day I’m also checking the support and info mail as well as. I usually also spend at least a couple of hours every day speaking to manufacturers, suppliers and investors as well.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Most of my ideas come up late at night. I write them down in my phone, and if during the morning they make any sense at all, I develop them further and discuss with the team. Depending on whether it’s a software improvement or a mechanical/physical improvement, it may take just a couple of hours or a couple of weeks before a prototype has been tested out. Once it has been validated, it’s applied into the next batch or product (when physical).
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m especially excited to see the rising acceptance of cannabis use, not just in Chile (my home country) or the US, but worldwide. I think we’re finally realizing the medicinal benefits that cannabis can provide and the fact that, at the end of the day, this is just a plant. As a result we’re seeing many creative people build new businesses and services at a breakneck pace.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One of my best habits is trying new things until I find the method which works best for me. For example, I’ve tried various forms of communication internally until we stumbled upon Slack and other tools which work best for us. Instead of trying to jam a square peg in a round hole, keep trying until you find the perfect fit for you and then build upon it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell a younger version of myself to get into the cannabis space earlier and pursue my passions much sooner in life. I went to school and had a career in civil engineering, but as a hobby I would grow cannabis indoors and fell in love with the process and rewards of homegrowing. It was this passion which led me to create Cloudponics, to solve the process of automating cannabis growing at home in order for everyone to feel the same joy I did.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
In the cannabis world there are a lot of people, like those who enjoy wine, who love to try various strains of cannabis and can point out the different scents, flavors, etc. People may disagree, but being a cannabis snob is not particularly for me. As long as it’s good quality weed, I’m happy with whatever effect it has on me.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep your foot on the gas pedal, and keep pushing forward.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Be creative in your marketing and sales approach. We’ve found that our best sales channels have come from the most unexpected places, and once we identified what worked best, we were able to double-down on our winners. It sounds cliche, but don’t limit your creativity.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest failure is what led me to start Cloudponics. When growing cannabis as a hobby I would do so hydroponically as this system used less water, allowed for better yields but unfortunately requires extreme attention – one mistake and plants can be killed. Every time I would go out of town for the weekend, or make a small mistake, then I would often lose a crop. I looked for a product which could automate growing, and when I couldn’t find one I built it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As a parent, I would love for someone to create an IoT device to help parents raise their babies. Whether it be a wristband that doubles as a thermometer to let you know when your child is ill, or when to feed them, it would help busy parents.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought a new VapeXHale Vaporizer which has been fantastic. It makes vaping dry herb and concentrates incredibly easy and always produces high-quality, comfortable vapor.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Intercom is the way that we communicate with our clients, users and future clients. It allows us to communicate internally with the team.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m a huge fan of the book “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari. It definitely leaves you with a different viewpoint of human behavior and is incredibly engaging. I very rarely recommend books to friends but I always mention Sapiens.
What is your favorite quote?
“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
- Pursue your passions early in life
- Keep your foot on the gas pedal
- Be creative in your sales and marketing strategies
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