Rob and Danielle Smith are the co-founders of Atlas Plant Trainer, a customizable all-in-one system that both trains and supports growing plants from seedling to harvest, allowing for space optimization for all grow areas and styles and yield maximization of legal plant counts. With their business still in the startup phase, both currently handle all aspects of operations, from research and development to finances and sales. We tossed some questions their way for the Smiths to answer in tandem about Atlas. This is their story…
What inspired you to start your company?
We have been Maine medical marijuana caregivers for four years now. Rob performs the majority of the growing operations on his own. After getting frustrated with the current DIY solutions on the market such as bamboo stakes and trellis netting, he came up with an idea that he knew would help growers of all types. Night after night Rob would return home from the garden, talking enthusiastically about his idea and its potential until one late night when Danielle reached out to a local designer to begin what has now become the Atlas Plant Trainer journey.
What defines success for you and your company?
Our goal for Atlas Plant Trainer is to be the leader in the plant training and support category, nationally recognized throughout the entire gardening industry. While our current focus is on the cannabis industry, Atlas will be able to help gardeners with any type of plants including ornamental gardening, urban gardens, and so much more.
What was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you move past it?
The biggest challenge we’ve faced so far is a name change just prior to our crowdfunding launch through Indiegogo earlier this year. We were notified of the conflict by another company in the cannabis space. While our lawyers felt that we had a case to present, it was not worth wasting our valuable time and resources to go through a lengthy court proceeding. We made the decision to change the name of our product which at the time was a major challenge, given trademark laws and domain name availability. We are true believers that everything happens for a reason, and are much happier with our new name due to the elegance and strength it portrays.
What skill, characteristic, trait do you find most valuable to achieving success?
Persistence—not everyone is going to love what you are doing, and some may even be vocal about it. Rejection is difficult and feels so much more personal when it’s your own business. Learning to graciously take feedback and turn it into an opportunity to improve yourself or your approach is one of the best ways to show your tenacity and drive, key skills for a successful entrepreneur.
What do you find is important in connecting with and inspiring others to follow your lead?
Learning before implementing. Before beginning this journey, we absorbed as much information as possible in the business areas we were not directly familiar with, and continue to do so on a daily basis. This includes podcasts, books, seminars, and articles written by others that have achieved success before us.
Given the demands of starting a business, how do you still find work-life balance?
This one is still sometimes a challenge. Working and living together makes it difficult to stop working when you are so passionate about what you’re doing, and that passion is shared with your spouse. Given this, we’ve made schedules that chunk out both family time and self-care time. By properly caring for ourselves with things like exercise, meditation, healthy eating, and a proper supplement regimen, it allows us to continue pushing our minds and bodies for what can be very long days.
What did you learn along the way that you wish someone had told you when you started?
Everything. Takes. Longer! Fortunately, this was advice that we were given from the start, but it’s incredibly important for any entrepreneur to know prior to jumping in head first. It has proven true time and time again for us, and anticipating delays in advance has allowed us to better prepare for any hiccups along the road.
Sign up for our free cannabis newsletter at talkingjointsmemo.com to stay on top of all things green in New England.