MONCTON – GrowDoc, a startup with a mobile app that helps identify sick cannabis plants, will move on to national competition after winning La Coupe Des Startups at Université de Moncton Thursday night.
The company will receive a $1,000 grant from organizer Regroupement des jeunes chambres de commerce du Québec (RJCCQ) (Youth Chambers of Commerce of Quebec). Later this year, it will compete with other Francophone businesses nationally for a chance to win up to $20,000.
If GrowDoc wins at the national level, it will go on to represent Canada and compete with companies from all around the world in the Global MeetUp Get In The Ring event in Montreal in June.
GrowDoc’s app uses machine learning to help identify cannabis plants that are sick, nutrient-deficient or have bugs. Users can take a picture of their plant and get a diagnosis quickly. The app has been developed for both Android and iOS, and is now in the testing phase, said CEO and co-founder Daniel Lirette.
“We’re going to get everything ready. We’re looking to get some help through partners locally, with a few cannabis groups, have them test it out, and from there, we’ll do a beta launch globally,” he said.
While the overall concept is open source, GrowDoc will patent a few features of its app. The app will be offered on a freemium basis, with it being free to a certain extent. GrowDoc is targeting home growers, farmers, as well as licensed cannabis producers, among others.
Lirette and co-founder Chris Mackinnon envision a 500-employee company based in Moncton and compete against tech leaders globally. They also want to work more with hemp because of its eco-friendly potentials.
“We want to keep promoting hemp, we want to try to inspire especially the youth…if they can find products like hemp plastic, hempcrete, to try to help our planet with sustainable materials,” Lirette said. “We just want innovation in our province, in our country, to help our economy and our community.”
The event was co-organized by the Association of and Université de Moncton’s Assomption Center for Research and Development in Entrepreneurship (Centre Assomption de recherche et de développement en entrepreneuriat/CARDE).
This is the cup’s third year, but the first time that it’s held outside Quebec. Montreal-based RJCCQ is taking the competition around Canada’s French-speaking communities “to see the Francophone entrepreneurs,” said Camille Benoît-Blouin, who is in charge of the organization’s communications.
“We’re really excited that they chose our campus,” said Gilles Gallant, a provincial coordinator with CARDE. “This is a great way for [Francophone entrepreneurs] to get some exposure.”
Eight businesses were initially chosen by a jury for Thursday’s pitching competition, but The Lucky Bean, from P.E.I., had to leave. The entrepreneurs have to be between 15 and 35 years old, and their companies have to be in operation for less than five years.
They received pitching training, as well as a broader business training from experts.
Other businesses that pitched included Au Bootlegger from Bathurst, DAS Concrete Countertops from Dieppe, Design From Africa from Moncton, Aestheti Athletics from Dieppe, VALK Fermentation from Moncton, and Le Moque-Tortue Games Bistro from Shediac.
The judges for the night were Pierre Martin, economic and commercial attache for Quebec’s Atlantic Provinces Office, Guacamole Mexican Street Food co-owner Dominique Ratte, and Université de Moncton business and management professor Georges Aka.