In 2017, iUNU’s Luna Vision, a system of cameras that automatically monitors a greenhouse, collects data for growers and allows them to view their plants from anywhere via an app, was made available to the public. Think of it as Google Maps for the greenhouse. iUNU, a company that was founded in 2013 by CEO Adam Greenberg, grew rapidly as a result of consumer interest and adoption of Luna Vision. In October 2018, iUNU’s strong year continued when it was named to CNBC’s Upstart 100, an annual list that recognizes 100 start-up businesses to watch across all industries.
Greenhouse Management: What has changed for iUNU, and for you, in the past year?
Adam Greenberg: The thing that really took off was people started to realize that, in terms of a solution set, the new policies in effect have led to even more labor shortages. People have inventory teams, full planning teams, full facility planning teams. All of that we automate, so that allows them to redistribute their workforce. We are finding a lot of interest with all that type of stuff — it’s been a big driver for people’s needs. One of our customers [Rodney Bierhuizen from Sunrise Greenhouses in Vineland Station, Ontario] went out in front of the Canadian Greenhouse Conference and talked about us, and about how great we were for them. We’d been quiet and secret for years, and from that perspective, it’s cool to see the support now. Editor’s note: To learn more about Bierhuizen, read “Jack of all trades” in the May 2018 issue of Greenhouse Management here.
GM: What kind of problems are growers most commonly reaching out to you about?
AG: On the produce side, yield forecasting is something that they reach out to us for. On the floriculture side, it’s usually readiness and inventory tracking — the fact that we automate that is a big deal to people. In the horticulture industry, it really comes down to ‘Where are my plants?,’ ‘How many of them do I have?’ and ‘What’s the status — are they healthy, are they not healthy, is there a problem I need to look at, and when are they going to be ready?’ And we see people getting extra value [from Luna Vision] when they have multiple facilities. The idea of being able to see all of your farms from one place has been an interesting driver of people who call us.
GM: What additions have you made to the Luna software in the past year?
AG: The comparisons of events, where if you spray something, you see what happens and [can] compare [it] year after year and how weather affected it — things like that are vital. Each person that bought the system did so in the last year, so some of them are just getting to that second, third or fourth growth cycle and just now being able to compare growing cycles. Another thing that was surprising for us is that we’ve added a lot of horsepower to tracking base utilization [what percentage of greenhouse space growers are using]. Dr. Charlie Hall talks about base utilization all the time and how people say they are 85 percent efficient. But, in reality, they’re about 65 percent, 70 percent efficient. Talking to him led us to create a tool to track exactly how you use your base every single day, how you maximize it and then it tells you in real time where the spaces are and how much space you have. For our customers, they get to see where they can move things and what the environment is like without having to do manual data input.