Episode 8 – Creating the First and Only Smart Automated Home Grow Box with Mary AG


David Byer, co-founder of Mary AG, talks to Patrick about his growing agtech startup. Mary AG offers an automated growing system that is ideal for anyone who doesn’t know where to start. It’s a solution with not only vast potential for the home, but also for large scale farming.

About Mary AG and Co-Founder David Byer

It was around the time that the date was selected for decriminalization of cannabis that Mary AG founders Frank Qin and David Byer saw the opportunity to launch their technology-enabled grow box. It was the jumping off point to begin refining their growing process and start collecting plant data from users worldwide. Today, Mary AG’s platform is powerful enough to run a farm. They now have a joint venture in China to be one of the few cannabis producing farms.

David Byer grew up near a tobacco farm on the Ontario farm belt. When asked about his rural upbringing, David said, “One thing that taught me was there are very few jobs that are harder than picking tobacco. No matter how much work needs to be done, I just think back to those days at 5:30 in the morning, picking cold half frozen leaves, and scorching in the sun by noon. I think back to those days every time the entrepreneurial grind gets a little bit intense, and I think, okay, I’m not doing so bad.”

Learn more about Mary AG on their website.

About Host Patrick McGuire

Patrick is a creative entrepreneur, team leader, and Altitude Accelerator board member who has focused on the sales and success of companies including: HR tech, fintech, sports tech, Software-as-a-Service, cannabis (CBD / THC), nutrition, health and wellness, fitness corporations, and business of all sizes with a love for helping business grow and scale from $500k to north of $50m. With an entrepreneurial mindset focused on team-building, his ethical leadership delivers win-win solutions for his companies and clients.

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Patrick McGuire (00:00)
Hey, it’s Patrick. Before we start, at the time of this recording, we went through a bit of a name rebranding from RIC Centre to Altitude Accelerator. With that in mind, we hope you enjoy the following interview. Welcome to the Startups Transformed Podcast. I’m Patrick McGuire, your host, board member and advisor at Altitude Accelerator, where we help startups scale to new heights. We chat with phenomenal tech business leaders who’ve climb their way to success within their industry. Our guests delve deep into the lessons they’ve learned along the way so that you can get a head start on your next big idea.

Patrick McGuire (00:44)
Got something cool here. I love it. It’s something that really, if you’re not doing now, you should have planned for the future. This is a phenomenal opportunity for people to really understand that they can do so much more with their plants, their products and even their food source going forward in the future. This came from one idea of something that you might not think as a priority, but in Canada, it definitely is top of mind these days. It’s also something that, of course, applies to all agriculture and home growers.

Patrick McGuire (01:15)
And we’ll tell you something cool about some farm opportunity in the future. So I just want to tell you about Mary AG. Mary AG is here. It’s the smart grow box with uncompromising features and benefits. So, David, why don’t you tell me what Mary AG really is all about? And first of all, thank you for joining us.

David Byer (01:32)
Hi, Patrick. Thanks for having me. Well, Mary, we offer an automated growing system that is ideal for anyone who doesn’t know where to start. So what that means is it’s a unit that can stand in your living room, in your dining room or your basement, wherever you want to put it, you plug it into the wall, you add water, hook it up to your WiFi and put your seed in for the plant that you want to grow. After that, the system pretty much takes over. Of course, with plants and anything where you want to consume the crop from, there’s a little bit of plant care involved.

David Byer (02:06)
But for anyone who doesn’t know how to take care of their plant, we have live support right through a mobile app that allows us to help you assess plant health and give you any advice that you need.

Patrick McGuire (02:17)
The fact that you’ve got not just a product you sell and someone can go and put these lights. I call it a column, but you’ve got a box. A beautiful growing box. It’s beautiful, by the way, in case anyone hasn’t checked it out. Go check it out.

Patrick McGuire (02:29)
You’ve got that in there. But you also add on that support, which is to help people like me who like to think that we can grow our foods or grow our cannabis or anything else, and we can’t. So I’m glad you got the support. That’s probably a little bit of a differentiator from you and anyone else just selling a box and some lights. Was that the plan all along to have a proper support system?

David Byer (02:50)
Well, the plan all along, and the vision for what we wanted to do was to teach people how to grow. And as we started looking at the feature set for this product, we started to really notice the thing that’s missing is that critical link between the person who’s interested and the knowledge of how to do it. There’s tonnes of blogs, there’s lots of videos and, heck, you might even get lucky. You might throw a seed in some water and it germinates and away it goes. But for the average person who wants to grow at home or wants to start growing at home for the first time, that knowledge and that luck is a little bit harder to come by.

David Byer (03:26)
It’s not a guarantee. And we want to make this as repeatable and experienced as possible. So by adding in a layer of live support during the day, you can be a new grower, you can connect with our experience team, and that very first plant you grow can be a success. We find that people have good success on the first grow, learn a lot of lessons for the next one and start to become a lot more self sufficient.

Patrick McGuire (03:50)
Being a RIC Centre advisor and board member, I’ve watched you guys grow literally and thought we should do this. My wife and I do some growing at home and, yeah, we have some hits and some failures, some big misses. Let me understand. Where did this come from? Where did the idea come from? How did you guys get your start? What was that like?

David Byer (04:11)
Well, the idea really comes from the main founder and CEO. Frank unfortunately, couldn’t be with us today because he’s taking care of business over in China right now. It all started when Frank had this idea to make a self watering flower pot. I believe it was a birthday gift for a friend. He failed miserably in making this thing, but it really started the wheels turning for him. He’s a computer developer by trade, so it was his first real attempt to look into how to set up an IoT device.

Patrick McGuire (04:43)
So wait, I’m going to jump in. He’s a developer by trade who wanted to make a self watering flower pot.

David Byer (04:49)
That’s correct.

Patrick McGuire (04:50)
There’s a disconnect there, but it’s kind of cool.

David Byer (04:53)
Yeah, I think. Well, to speak for Frank in his absence, he was always interested in gardening, always had plants and flowers at home when he was really young, and that’s something we both share. We love thinking that we’re green thumbs, but we’re not necessarily the experts that a lot of people are. So we need a little help. That’s why we started doing the research. And it was around the time that the date was selected for decriminalization of cannabis. So things really started to click when we thought there’s an opportunity for a product that allows you to grow a plant that’s a much higher value than your typical thyme or basil.

David Byer (05:34)
So we saw that there was a real opportunity to make something that’s a little bit more technology forward and can deliver a higher value to a home grower.

Patrick McGuire (05:42)
Very cool. And I mean, timing is everything for entrepreneurs, and sometimes it’s nothing. But in this situation, it was everything. It was the right time. You guys already had the idea, going from a self watering flower pot to putting some technology in getting some green thumbs involved and then going, oh, wow. This absolutely aligns with the new cannabis movement, and Canada has become really well known for it. If I was to ask you, since we’re talking about the topic, what do you think your buyers are using?

Patrick McGuire (06:12)
Like, is it 80% are buying it for homegrown cannabis or hemp being THC and CBD for the listeners that are listening? I love CBD, and that just helps my joints and pains and all that stuff. We can talk about that for hours. But then how many would be maybe. Is it 80? 20? to I’m growing some vegetables for my family. Or do you know what your customers look like? And how has that changed?

David Byer (06:34)
Yeah, and it has changed. 8020 is a good split. That’s a good estimate. The reason why we only give a pretty rough estimate would be one customer is not one plant. You’re capable of doing quite a few growth cycles. If you’re sticking to just cannabis, you get at least three in a year if you’re going from seed. But we do see a lot of people that primarily bought the models for cannabis, but have branched into other plants. They had a few good harvests, and now they’re growing tomatoes.

David Byer (07:04)
One of my favourite examples is we’ve had somebody from the very beginning who had some really nice cannabis yields. I think, I believe he’s a medical user as well. He’s changed to hot peppers. He’s basically growing, I don’t know if you know, the pepper X seed. It’s the Carolina Reaper but hotter. His plan is to grow one from a seed in his Mary and to keep it alive in there so he can use it to plant seeds outside in his garden. So basically, he has a mother plant that he can control indoors and show off to his friends.

David Byer (07:40)
And his end goal is that he makes his own sauces and salsas, and he wants to make a really good homemade hot sauce. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. It’s Mary powered hot sauce.

Patrick McGuire (07:51)
I love that. Can you get down on the bottle like, seriously. Mary powered Hot sauce?

David Byer (07:58)
Yeah, absolutely.

Patrick McGuire (07:59)
Good, actually, I have a friend that does fire bhut, B-H-U-T from the bhut pepper. So that’s a good idea. Okay, we should get that powered by Mary.

David Byer (08:07)
That sounds dangerous. That stuff. Yeah.

Patrick McGuire (08:10)
Yeah, it’s good. And you have a bit of a farm experience as well. Growing up. Is that right?

David Byer (08:15)
I do. I wouldn’t call myself a farmer, but I did grow up in kind of the farm belt of Ontario. Back when I was growing up. It was all tobacco. So the one thing that taught me was there’s very few jobs that are harder than picking tobacco. So no matter how much work needs to be done, I just think back to those days at 5:30 in the morning, picking cold, half frozen leaves and scorching in the sun by noon, lifting 90 pound bags over and over and over again.

David Byer (08:45)
So I think back to those days every time the entrepreneurial grind gets a little bit intense, and I think, okay, I’m not doing so bad.

Patrick McGuire (08:54)
Yeah. Hey, entrepreneurs. I want to remind you that when the time gets tough, the thing that David can say is you got this because the other option is picking tobacco at five in the morning, freezing your fingers off and then sweating and burning by noon. So when times get tough, you got this.

Patrick McGuire (09:12)
Don’t worry about it.

David Byer (09:13)
That’s right,

Patrick McGuire (09:14)
David. How did you and Frank find each other? How did that come around?

David Byer (09:18)
It’s kind of a funny story. My background was in sporting goods that come from the cycling industry, and I had been working at an established brand for about ten years, just over ten years. One of the things I loved about that brand was I joined when it was a very young company, and I saw it grow and solve a whole bunch of problems that I just never thought I’d be at the forefront of from a business perspective. Once it became a little bit more established after ten years, I thought it’s time to join something new again.

David Byer (09:47)
So I joined another bike company. But as a startup, a smart bike company called Vanhawks in Toronto. And that’s where I met Frank, who’s one of the app developers, the iOS developer for the platform. Frank, shortly after I joined, we kind of hit it off. He left because he had other ideas of his own startup to get going. And we just kind of stayed in touch. And one of the things we stayed in touch over was the self watering flower pot, this idea that morphed into basically a home cultivation system.

David Byer (10:19)
And the more and more we spoke, the more and more obvious it became. I need to be part of this team, and that’s how we got started.

Patrick McGuire (10:27)
It was awesome. Yeah.

David Byer (10:28)
So by the time I joined in 2017, there were some pretty decent rudimentary, but decent prototypes made. The software was fairly sound already because he is a computer developer, and he was making things out of cardboard and two by fours and waterproof seals in his basement. And then we started to put together the idea of a crowdfunding platform approach. So we started an Indiegogo project the next year, and we hit our funding goal in 36 hours which I believe was a record at the time. So that became very real very quickly.

David Byer (11:03)
And then we had to figure out how to bring this thing to market.

Patrick McGuire (11:06)
Yeah, well, and for full disclosure, I actually did see you guys in Indiegogo. I spent a lot of time in there, and I have a whole bunch of products tucked away in different shelves. So I saw you guys and I know I want to grow more stuff and do a better job. And I have clients in the LP category. And so there’s always that cross over there. So I’ve seen you guys grow from the very beginning or what I thought was the beginning, but I didn’t know it was a self watering flower pot before that that brought you together.

Patrick McGuire (11:33)
So it’s really interesting. You said that the timing was right. You were building this amazing growing solution. Benefits in a box that were incredible with great features and kind of. Well, for me, idiot proofs it or Pat proofs it and makes growing easy. But it also aligned with the cannabis industry or the legalization of cannabis. Do you attribute that to a massive amount of your success? Did you see just a spike in influx of sales at that time, or has it just been a consistent growth going along?

David Byer (12:05)
It’s coming in fits and spurts. We definitely couldn’t have had the success that we’ve had so far without the legalization of cannabis. There’s no other plant that would have allowed this application to be as successful as cannabis. The value you can pull out of one growth cycle on a cannabis plant is just high enough to really be worth the investment.

Patrick McGuire (12:26)
Yeah, for sure.

David Byer (12:27)
And we try to make that investment as easy as possible. So the quick napkin math is based on our average of about 65 to 70 grand stride, minimum three cycles a year, the cost of the unit versus buying all of that cannabis at your local dispensary. You’re breaking even in about 14 months.

Patrick McGuire (12:47)
Not bad investment at all.

David Byer (12:49)
The value proposition is a little bit different when you’re growing just tomatoes. Obviously, it takes a while because tomatoes are quite a bit more affordable at your grocery store. So it was kind of the perfect application. We always started with sort of a bigger goal in mind, which is empowering people to grow. So cannabis is a great plant because there are quite a few challenges with the plant that you don’t have with others. For example, there’s smell issues you don’t necessarily want a pervading throughout your house or condo.

David Byer (13:18)
We can help with that. It’s a very sensitive plant to light schedules. If you really want the flowering process to be as fruitful as possible, because that’s where it produces the end product, you need to be very careful about the light schedule and conditions. Not every plant is going to be that picky about environment. So we looked at it as a situation where if we can solve the problems around cannabis, it makes it a lot easier to solve the problems around tomatoes or cucumbers or basil in the future.

Patrick McGuire (13:47)
Yeah, that’s excellent. I read that on your site, too. Of course, this is a great option that allows us to grow year round, and you built in that redundancy or you idiot proof it or Pat proofed it. So I think it’s really wonderful, and it’s great to see guys growing and more of the agro cultural wannabe world. I don’t mean to say that belittling anyone because I’m one of them. It’s great to see them getting into it for other things as well that serves their personal purpose.

Patrick McGuire (14:13)
It’s great to know that you have a product that isn’t just one size. It only does this and nothing else, right. It’s something that more people could use in the general population. And from what I understand at this point, really, you just need a box with lights that you provide with the Mary AG, and I downplay that a lot. But I’m trying to make sure that everybody understands it’s really simple, but there’s a whole lot of complexity in the background to make that work so that people like us can use it.

Patrick McGuire (14:41)
But it sounds like you could use this anywhere in the world that you’ve got a little bit of WiFi and electricity. Is that right?

David Byer (14:47)
Yeah, that’s correct. And we didn’t really approach this as just one product either. The grow box was a great jumping off point for us. It was really allowed us to focus in on refining the growing process. It’s also allowing us to collect quite a bit of plant data as we go from various users around the world. But we always envision this as more of a platform rather than just one product. So what we’re working on right now is actually think of it as I think Frank likes to say, 15,000 grow boxes in a vertical farm.

David Byer (15:20)
The platform we’ve built is powerful enough to run a farm. So we’ve started in a joint venture in China to be one of the few cannabis producing farms. It’s a legal cultivation and production license that we have one few in Yunnan Province. It’s for very low THC, so it’s going to be for only therapeutic topical use. But there’s a big appetite for research over in China, but there’s also been a large resistance to anything that was considered to be a narcotic, right?

Patrick McGuire (15:52)

David Byer (15:53)
So one opportunity that really jumped out to us was the ability to not only bring in growing technology to China, where there’s a huge thirst for it, but also to bring in compliance. We watch the Canadian industry very closely. Compliance is one of our strong suits and traditional farming that’s using Yunnan Province in China is just soil, water, sun and seed. Right. We can do this indoors for them. We can make sure that our technology allows that compliance to take place so it’s starting to solve a lot of problems for new markets and the destigmatization we did for the Canadian home grower, we’re working on doing that for the industrial grower in other markets as well.

Patrick McGuire (16:35)
That’s pretty awesome. And I would imagine the control factor and the consistency of the product comes into play, too, for that consumer in the end.

David Byer (16:43)
Absolutely. For sure. Knowing what you’re getting out of a crop, it’s not just a matter of weight when it comes to a crop like cannabis. It’s a matter of quality as well.

Patrick McGuire (16:53)
Yeah, for sure. I’m going to go back to something you just said because we haven’t talked about it too much. And obviously I love technology, and this is kind of one of those things that we’re into, especially with the RIC Centre and everything we’re doing with Startups Transformed. A lot of the companies we talk to are in the tech, and you guys are in tech as well. You’re not just an agri, you’re agriculture and technology and for the home grower and for the corporate and for the big farms, it’s pretty cool, but platform. You sort of pivoted your business and you started working on the platform a little more.

Patrick McGuire (17:21)
Can you tell us a bit about that? And maybe we’ll elaborate from there.

David Byer (17:25)
Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, when we’re developing the grow box, one of the most interesting things for us in terms of opportunity was we’re going to learn a lot from the sensors that are on all the grow boxes throughout our customer base, so we know how quickly it drinks water, for example, we know how fast it grows because we measure the height of the plant. We can make changes to the recipes when we say recipes, it’s the scheduling of and control of all the growth conditions. So we can actually make tweaks to make specific cultivars produce better in the future.

Patrick McGuire (17:59)
We started looking at this as a real potential on a bigger scale as well. So we have a good start and we know what can happen if you put our grow box in a dry, arid, hot area or a cool, damp area. But that’s not the same as the data we can collect from a farm level. So on one hand, we have kind of this one to one relationship with our home cultivation grower, which is giving us some great feedback to show us what we really need to apply at a farm level.

Patrick McGuire (18:29)
And then, on the other hand, on a farm level, we’ll be gathering data very quickly on multiple plants, which we can then feedback to the home cultivator if the application helps them as well. So it’s kind of like if you have a Mary AG today.

Patrick McGuire (18:43)
Yeah. You can kind of reverse that technology. Yes.

David Byer (18:46)
If you have a Mary today, you’re going to learn from the farmers.

Patrick McGuire (18:49)
You just share it, right?

David Byer (18:51)

Patrick McGuire (18:52)
I like that. I know we had a little crossover there, but I couldn’t hold back because the idea of sharing with the people while sharing their data first with your platform and the farmers potentially and then vice versa on a massive scale, sharing farmer data. And we all understand, let’s be clear about this, folks not sharing personal, private data, but sharing growing data points, correct. And being able to share that information. And like you said, tweak recipes. So that the data, the signal, the information of that recipe is being fed through WiFi.

Patrick McGuire (19:23)
It’s non intrusive, non invasive and, well, it makes the human almost redundant as long as you can plant the seed and fill the water, I think. Is that what I’m getting right?

David Byer (19:32)
Yeah, of course, the human is never redundant, but we can cut down on the amount of humans and hands you need to grow a crop for sure.

Patrick McGuire (19:39)
Yeah, that is really cool. So moving to that platform concept, who made that decision? And I guess it’s kind of like a pivot, but not really. Maybe it is a pivot. It depends how you phrase that. But who made that decision to really focus on making the platform happen?

David Byer (19:53)
Well, to be honest, it was always part of our vision. And it’s kind of funny because we started with what if we could grow tomatoes in the space station type dreaming when we were talking about the opportunities for an automated growth system and we refined it down to the opportunity that was in front of us for the home cultivation, cannabis consumer and the opportunity to get a licence and start this joint venture in China just arose very quickly. It was something we’re always building towards. We thought it was on our three to five year roadmap.

David Byer (20:28)
And then once the opportunity and one of the last opportunities in China arose, then we had to change. We had to make that pivot happen very quickly. And that was Frank realised the opportunity when he was over in China, previously working with some of our manufacturing suppliers. He just happened to meet the right person at the right time and where we went. So it’s one of those opportunities that you can’t take advantage of unless you’re thinking ahead to begin with, I guess, like I said, if you talk to us in 2018, we never thought by 2021 we’d be working on our first prototypes for a farm.

David Byer (21:05)
We would have put that probably closer to 24. But that prototype is in testing right now. And, yeah, it’s just been a very rapid change.

Patrick McGuire (21:16)
That is a very welcome surprise when that happens. But you got to be ready to roll with it. Whether it’s a full pivot or a partial pivot, or just a rapid execution of your long term plan, you got to be ready. David and Frank were ready. They answered the call with Mary AG. I think it’s super cool the position of the company being able to just make sure that you work with the right suppliers, the right partners. You found one in China that they raised their hands.

Patrick McGuire (21:42)
They said, hey, guys, we want to do this. This is great. Who really made that decision to work with that larger scale farm opportunity? Was it you, Frank was a board of advisers, partners, friends, or was it a joint venture of decision makers?

David Byer (21:57)
Frank made the decision. He absolutely jumped on it. When he broke the news to me, it was hard to say anything, but yes. Anyway, I wouldn’t have wanted them to say anything else but anything other than yes, but at the same time, it seemed a little bit surreal at the time that we had this opportunity. So like I said, it’s something you have to stay ready for rather than get ready for. So it was definitely a decision made by Frank and one that we all got behind really quickly.

Patrick McGuire (22:26)
Awesome. That’s good to know. I mean, sometimes it takes someone to just start the lead and be that tipping point, stealing from Malcolm Gladwell, of course. But if you got that tipping point and you got an opportunity to take it, the team agrees with it. Go full out. I mean, full on sprint. I know Usain Bolt’s past tense now because he’s just been beaten as a junior record. But I would say, when you’re going, you got to go. And you guys clearly made the decision to go together once Frank gave you that tipping point opportunity.

Patrick McGuire (22:51)
So really impressed. Very proud of you guys. It’s awesome. Your growth has been. I mean, it’s been like a brand new cannabis plant growing inside of one of your Mary AG’s. It’s been big.

David Byer (23:03)
Yeah. And it’s fun to see it from the seed all the way to fruition to follow that line.

Patrick McGuire (23:08)
Personally, there’s nothing I love more than that. I love seeing our hot peppers and our tomatoes and cucumbers and squash and all these other things we do at home ourselves. And we’re just gambling. We’re gambling. I mean, I bought the organic heirlooms. I got those seeds. We soak them, we scar them, we put them in the dirt, we put them under the lights. I probably should put a heat source into them. But you know what? I should probably just use a Mary AG.

David Byer (23:32)
We have a recipe for heirlooms. I’m sure we could get you started with that.

Patrick McGuire (23:36)
I’m going to have to learn. But it is so nice to see that growth, and it is satisfying. Like you said, to go from seed to actual finished product, no matter what that product is, if it’s cucumber or if it’s cannabis, depending on what your desires are. I love that you’re helping out everybody with these new recipes and timings recipes, folks. Reminder that’s the nutrients, the water, the timing of things, the light, all that stuff. That’s a recipe. I mean, it’s just like cooking something. It’s just you’re cooking it from the seed.

Patrick McGuire (24:03)
So let’s sort of double back I’m going to ask you some hindsight the 2020 questions here. What are three things that you wish you would have told your younger self?

David Byer (24:16)
Well, COVID is going to happen is definitely one of them. I think everyone wanted to be aware that was coming in. We probably could have avoided it. I guess not specifically that’s, Colby, but people say it’s a once in a generation issue that we have to face, but there’s a lot of once in generation issues. So I’d say every generation has something like this. It’s hard to say exactly what you need to know to be ready for something like this. But I wish we had built a little more redundancy into our original supply chain because we did scramble quite a bit.

David Byer (24:53)
We did see some interruptions to our inventory coming in in early 21. Fortunately, we were able to scrap and fight and claw our way past that as a company. But I know there’s a lot of companies that just weren’t as fortunate as us, so I think being ready to jump on things quickly and having a little bit of redundancy that you don’t think you need, if you have it and don’t need it, then that’s great. Talking about Frank making the decision for the pivot. The reason why we make a good team, I think, is you need an entrepreneur who has no doubt in their mind of what they’re doing, and it is really good if you can surround that people with a healthy amount of doubt.

David Byer (25:33)
So I personally have always been the doubtful one. That healthy amount of doubt the sceptic. So I was going back telling myself a little bit younger, it’s going to work out. If you work and you focus if you clear out some of the noise or as much of the noise as possible that things will work out or it may not be what you’re working on now, but something will. So I could do with a little less doubt.

Patrick McGuire (25:57)
Yeah, absolutely.

David Byer (25:58)
Fortunately, I have a founding partner who has no doubt whatsoever, which is great.

Patrick McGuire (26:03)
Yeah, absolutely. That helps. Curious, being that Startups Transformed, how did you come together with RIC Centre?

Patrick McGuire (26:12)
Oh, Jeez, I actually don’t know the story because I think it was something Frank was setting up in the background. To be honest with you.

Patrick McGuire (26:19)
That may be a good thing. I’m going to segue that one because let’s be honest, we can’t all be Masters in everything we do in our business. And if you have the right business partner, as you’ve actually said a couple of times through this conversation, the right business partner making the right decisions and presenting that opportunity to the other partner to say yes or no is a great thing. So I can’t wait to talk to Frank, get him on the session and be able to chat with him later on in the future.

Patrick McGuire (26:42)
We’ve got another plan for that, but I love the fact that you guys work so well with each other and you trust each other. But you also have that sounding board, that litmus test, putting that seed, the water and see if she sprouts kind of idea between the two of you. So I actually really do appreciate you saying I wasn’t the guy that drove the conversation with RIC Centre.

David Byer (27:02)
It’s always worked out that I get involved a little bit after if its how to do it. Frank’s got a great intuition for what to do. And like I said, he doesn’t have the doubt. And then the doubtful person comes in and says, okay, now how are we actually going to pull this off?

Patrick McGuire (27:16)
Is that doubt or is that reality?

David Byer (27:18)
Yeah. I guess it’s a little bit of both. Right. I think you need a little bit of skepticism to stay realistic. But if you get mired down in skepticism, then you’re going to miss those opportunities that are dangling in front of you for sure, for sure.

Patrick McGuire (27:31)
All right. So obviously, Startups Transformed podcast with RIC Centre. We know that we want to help entrepreneurs, and we love seeing you guys doing it yourselves. Most entrepreneurs are self starters anyways, and they’re just going to keep on going. And in your case, growing. I love that. I do have a question going back to the younger you. Maybe the pre entrepreneurial. It may be way back to before you took that job with that well known, Canadian bike brand thinking of that younger you, and it could have been a day ago, it could be years ago, it could be when you were a kid. If you got the chance to be an entrepreneur all over again, would you do it?

David Byer (28:12)
Wow. It depends on what time of day you ask me that. But I’d say the answer isn’t just yes. It’s I don’t know what else I could do. Some people are just wired for it. Some people aren’t. And I think if you’re more wired for following a script, then go get a good nine to five job. But if you’re like me and you’re not, then you’ll find things to do for sure. You’ll find ideas to pursue. And I think it’s one of those you don’t choose, it chooses you kind of thing, I guess, to be right, but yeah, I don’t know what else I would have done.

Patrick McGuire (28:53)
Well, it is 11:47 on a Friday after- well, not afternoon yet, I guess almost. And he still would be an entrepreneur. Ask him at 03:00 today.

David Byer (29:03)
Maybe ask me at 930 tonight if I’m on another call and I might pause a little more before saying yes.

Patrick McGuire (29:14)
Yeah, for sure. But I do like your answer. And I agree the same way. I like to remind people that I’m absolutely unemployable. It’s just the way we are. We’re entrepreneurs. It’s a disease and it’s a DNA, and it’s a culture. And I love the fact that you are very clear in saying, hey, I don’t know what else I would want to do. Being an entrepreneur is pretty cool.

David Byer (29:33)
That’s great. If you like solving problems, I mean, you better make sure you have a lot of problems to solve in front of you.

Patrick McGuire (29:40)
Absolutely. So I do appreciate all your time you’re giving us. And obviously you’ve got a lot of work to do and keep on growing the business. Keep on growing plants and other people’s businesses, which is very exciting. I can’t wait to see the vertical walls and the farms that you guys are building out there to take this to a larger scale and cultivate more plant growing data. It’s so exciting to see it. For anyone that’s looking at or thinking about growing anything. And I mean anything. Check out, Mary.

Patrick McGuire (30:07)
Just like the lady’s name. Ag. Mary AG. Check it out and see what’s going on. If people wanted to reach out to you, get in touch with you or the company, how do we go about doing that?

David Byer (30:19)
The best thing to do is just visit our website. Like you said, Mary.AG, we’ll have somebody ready to chat with you or drop us an email. Hi@Mary.AG.

Patrick McGuire (30:29)
All right, folks, that is great. I’ve had a great time with you, David. Thank you so much. On behalf of RIC Centre Startups Transformed podcast, I just want to say a great, big, massive thank you very much, David.

David Byer (30:40)
My pleasure, Patrick. It was great.

Patrick McGuire (30:42)
As an entrepreneur, don’t forget. Like David said, you can do it. It’s better than picking tobacco plants and leaves at 530 in the morning, in the freezing cold and sweating by the afternoon. I’m Patrick McGuire. Have a great day. Enjoy and continue to grow your business on your entrepreneurial journey.

Patrick McGuire (31:02)
Thank you for joining us on Startups Transformed podcast. You can subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. If you enjoyed the conversation, a rating or review goes a long way, recommend the show to a friend. Find us altitudeaccelerator.com where we can help you begin your startup journey with access to our workshops, advisors, and mentorship opportunities. Be sure to tune in for our next episode.


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