The company released lights to the market in October and cost $2,500.
Who’s in charge: University of Washington graduate Adam Greenberg, 24, co-founder and CEO.
What it does: Started in 2013, iUNU provides energy-efficient dual plasma lights designed to make indoor farming more affordable and more environmentally friendly.
The team: Seven full-time employees in its Seattle office in the Sodo neighborhood.
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Cost: The lights were released to the market in October and cost $2,500. However, Greenberg notes, unlike LED counterparts that run $1,000 or $1,500, iUNU lights are broadly focused across the entire light spectrum to better replicate sunlight and produce healthier plants with higher nutritional value. Their efficiency also can save on electricity bills.
The dream: Greenberg is targeting these lights not only for places like Russia, which has dark skies for much of the year, and India and Africa, which often have more difficult access to fresh fruits and vegetables, but also the U.S. “Kids go hungry in America as well — it is important we don’t forget that,” he said.
Favorite part: Proving to naysayers that hardware is just as important as software. “A lot of people tell you — especially with hardware — that you can’t do it and to just do software,” Greenberg said. “But the fact that we have been successful … it goes to show there is hardware and software that need to be innovated.”
Most famous customer: Microsoft uses the lights to grow lettuce in hydroponic towers for one of the cafes on its Redmond campus. Jessica Schilke, urban-farming specialist with Microsoft’s dining and beverage service, said in a blog post in December that the lights will revolutionize indoor growing.
Funding: The team won a $50,000 investment from VillageCapital earlier this month from a pool of national startups working to improve the global agriculture economy. It also said it’s a few weeks away from announcing some investors who have recently come on board.
Good question: This being Washington state, some may want to know: Can the lights be used in growing marijuana? While they were designed to grow high-quality food, the company maintains the lights will outperform others in growing any crop.
— Coral Garnick