Startup Spotlight: Drexel grads building 'plug and play horticulture' lighting system – Philadelphia Business Journal

PHL Inno’s weekly “Startup Spotlight” feature highlights founders and new businesses cropping up in the region.
The startup: GrowFlux automates horticultural lighting using cloud-based technology in indoor agriculture and greenhouses to save power and maximize efficiency.
Founded: 2017
Home base: Philadelphia, in the University City Science Center.
Founders: Eric Eisele, co-founder and CEO, and Alex Roscoe, co-founder and chief technology officer. The two Drexel University graduates met at architectural firm KieranTimberlake in Northern Liberties while testing building performance and energy efficiency.
The product: GrowFlux offers “plug and play horticulture” using cloud-connected controls for grow lights, which are designed to replicate natural lights. The device is engineered to work with grow lights manufactured by all major lighting companies. It is a waterproof switch with connectors to lights, and circuitry to control the lights and communicate with the cloud.
“People don’t traditionally think of the agriculture industry as being a consumer of energy, but that’s starting to change with climate change as we’re seeing more crops go indoors,” Eisele said. “And then we’re seeing the rise of indoor vertical farming and then, of course, the cannabis industry.”
The GrowFlux dimmer and access point starter kit sells for $428. The product’s basic functionality works right out of the box and includes a lifetime subscription to the company’s standard cloud controls via the Android and iOS app. More advanced features in areas like energy management, facility management, and multiple users are available at a premium. 
GrowFlux started out manufacturing its own tunable LED horticultural lights, but the process was capital intensive, Eisele said. By the time it got the product to market in 2019, the startup was also stacked against long-standing lighting companies which quickly pivoted to horticultural lighting once cannabis legalization picked up steam. It was that year that GrowFlux pivoted away from making lights.
“We took all the brains out of our light, all the software stuff, and we put it in this little tiny device,” Roscoe said. “And we can sell this and it plugs in, and it works with any light on the market.”
Funding: GrowFlux has raised over $1 million to date, Eisele said, and is looking to begin its first venture capital round in 2022. 
The startup received a $250,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop technology to make indoor agriculture more sustainable. GrowFlux is building lighting controls that use sensor data to provide the right lighting for crops in real time.
The company also received funding from PECO parent Exelon to help build smart grid technology in agriculture.
The goal: GrowFlux wants to have its technology integrated into mass-produced grow lights, and it is already integrating its product into Horticulture Lighting Group’s lights.
“With our integrations, we’re looking at getting into hundreds of farms per month,” Eisele said. “And that is a pipeline that is bigger than a lot of the more established agriculture tech companies that are going farm to farm and selling their technology.”
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