After a globe-trotting youth, Robin spent 30 years in IT designing networks and data centres. In 2014 he decided to strike out on his own as an entrepreneur, and started a Software-as-a-Service (Saas) company for small businesses. During this time he was also working on his hobby project: software to control and regulate large salt-water aquariums.
“Salt water aquariums are highly complex environments that need to be constantly monitored and regulated to keep the fish healthy and happy. I had friends who loved having a big saltwater tank, but they weren’t confident about all the regular testing and adjusting that needs to be done to keep the environment perfectly balanced. So I started building a solution for them.”
Robin’s solution was to put sensors in the tanks that monitored temperature and pH, and sent an alert if anything was too far out of its optimal range. He took some of those tools with him when he began working as an indoor farming consultant in 2015, and adapted them to the needs of his clients. He soon realized that farmers were often overwhelmed by the day-to-day tasks of managing the indoor farming environment.
“Most of the facilities weren’t purpose-built,” Robin explains. “They were converted industrial buildings, and maintaining consistent temperature, humidity, and ventilation across hundreds of square feet of growing space was a real challenge.”
That’s when Robin realized that his clients needed to not only monitor the growing environment and fix problems, but to also keep detailed records of what worked and what didn’t, so that they could do root-cause analysis on issues, prevent them in the future, and ensure consistent product quality.
“I started working on data visualization tools, and then some business back-end stuff as well. Before I knew it, I was developing a complete platform.” Robin’s journey had come full circle. He integrated his indoor farming tools into his software-as-a-service platform, and Canobi Ag Tech was born.
“The pandemic made remote monitoring and management a necessity, rather than a nice-to-have, so that actually helped when it was time to raise capital and commercialize.” Canobi Ag Tech secured their first major client in Q3 of 2001 and is currently finishing up their first round of financing.
“We’re poised to grow, and grow fast. I’m really excited to be part of the solution to the supply-chain issues that we’re currently experiencing with fresh produce in particular. Let’s grow healthy fresh food where people need it most!”