Growing your own food in your garden is nice, but what if you don’t have a garden? German startup greenYou provides you with simple solutions to grow crops in your kitchen. Their products combine function and design in a smart and innovative way. We talked to Erik, managing partner of greenYou.

Q: Hi Erik, what is greenYou?

Erik: greenYou is a young startup, which develops smart indoor gardening solutions. We also see greenYou as a lifestyle brand for people who want to grow their own organic food at home, without compromising on design. This also applies to bars and restaurants that want to offer fresh, organic herbs for their meals and cocktails.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your company: How did you get started?

Erik: Sören and I got to know each other over the internet in 2016. He had started a small indoor greenhouse but could not produce it any longer. I liked the idea and with the help of a Norwegian product design company, that I have strong ties to, we were able to design our own greenhouse: the greenUnit 2.0. We started a rapid development process in May 2016 and had our first prototype in September 2016, at display at a fair. Looking back it was a really crazy timeline, but with a lot of passion and a strong partner we had the finished product in our warehouse in mid-May 2017.


“Just wait and let it grow”


Q: You have several products in your portfolio. Could you give us an overview?

Erik: Beside different organic seeds from mint to chili we also have the self-watering, smart pots to plant them. The greenPot has a water control function that reminds the user to refill water, so the plants do not faint. In addition to that, the greenPot Plus+ comes with a LED lighting. So you can grow herbs or other plants without direct sunlight. It also can be used as a reading lamp or desk lamp for efficient use of power, thus serving several purposes.

Last but not least, we have our bigger greenUnit 2.0. It contains our newly developed Sunlight LED Technology, and of course also an automatic watering solution.

With this innovative indoor greenhouse we are targeting indoor gardeners, who want to grow their organic herbs and vegetables throughout the year. It is also a great learning aid for schools and kindergartens to grow plants with the children in the classroom. Due to its automatic watering solution and minimal maintenance effort, it also suits very well into offices and reception desks. Another key market is bars and restaurants that want to serve their guests homegrown organic herbs. The mint for a cocktail can be harvested directly in front of the guest. Our feedback is, that customers love it and bar owners improve sales.


Q: What do your customers have to do when they want to grow crops with your systems?

Erik: That’s the nice and easy thing with our system: You just have to fill in soil or an alternative substitute, plant the organic seeds (we always deliver our products with seeds) and fill water in the tank. Then just wait and let it grow!


Q: You don’t need any fertilizer?

Erik: The fertilizer is in the soil, but of course the plants use it up by time after some replanting. We are working on a cooperation with a company specializing on microorganisms which produce fertilizer in the soil for more than one year – totally organic, no chemicals! We want to offer a solution with microorganisms, if possible within this year if tests go well – it looks promising so far.


Q: What makes the greenUnit and the greenPot special compared to similar products?

Erik: During development we have focused on functionality, design and quality. I think that we have set a new standard with the greenUnit 2.0 and the new Sunlight LED Technology. All of our products have a straight and honest design and fit into bars, restaurants, offices and homes with their simple, modern look.

Q: You mentioned your SUNLIGHT LED TECHNOLOGY. What are its effects on plant growth?

Erik: Our goal was to develop an artificial and energy-efficient grow light solution. Having said that, we soon knew that we have to work on a lighting solution which doesn’t require active cooling.
Research and tests showed which color temperature and spectrum has the most impact on the growth of plants. There are many different factors that influence the growing process of plants, but the perfect lighting is among the most important ones.


“Homegrown food will always taste best”


Q: What have been your biggest technical challenges so far and how did you manage to overcome them?

Erik: There were many challenges during the development process of our new greenUnit 2.0. Starting with the specification and testing of our Sunlight LED Technology to different production methods of the other parts to make them look nice and fit perfectly. Thankfully, there are techniques like 3D printing nowadays, speeding up the development process.


Q: How do you think the Indoor Farming market will develop within the next couple of years?

Erik: There are two trends we discovered: One is to go back to organic food and grow your own food at home. With our indoor garden, you can grow crops, sprouts and herbs throughout the whole year inside your own flat. The second trend is to optimize the grow process of plants with the help of artificial light and computer-aided watering and nutrition supply.

Q: And where will greenYou be in 10 years? What is your vision?

Erik: Ten years is a very long time. It’s difficult to predict the future of indoor gardening, but I think we will have to be creative and efficient to feed all humans on the planet in future. As the horizontal space is limited, vertical gardens are getting more attention. There could be a big positive climate effect in the cities if house facades would be used to grow plants. The air would be cleansed by the plants and if we would grow food in the cities we wouldn’t need all the trucks driving to the stores to supply them with vegetables and fruits.

Industry 4.0 is affecting all areas of our life. With the help of sensors and big data we try to optimize every process around us. People even try to optimize themselves with smart tracking devices and apps where nutrition and sport is tracked. In ten years every single ingredient of a menu in a restaurant will be traceable back to all the suppliers and all the nutritions in it will be available with a simple photo, taken by the mobile phone or NFC like technology in the food.

But food growing and production will always be relevant, midst in a world of digitalization and technology – and homegrown food will always taste best!


Wanna know more? greenYou will appear in a TV feature on German station NDR on Friday Sept 22 at 8:15 PM CEST.

All pictures (c) by greenYou