Joshua Mezher, Founder of Hydrogarden Industry Innovations (Hii Inc.), has always had an interest in cannabis cultivation. However, when he finished college and began working as a bookkeeper, that’s when the proverbial light bulb went on over his head. Joshua realized that the majority of his growing time was dedicated to trimming plants, so he set out to create a product that could help people all over the world spend less time trimming and more time enjoying the fruits of their labor.
The result of Joshua’s efforts is Hii Inc., a company that invents and markets technologically advanced equipment for precision horticulture. The company’s first invention, Turbo Trimmerz, is a power tool that improves upon the functionality of hand-activated scissors by allowing the user to cut at a faster rate and reduced physical stress: while still allowing for the same dexterity and control as traditional scissors. Joshua’s patent-pending technology is one of the first inventions directly out of the cannabis industry to provide this many direct horticultural applications.
What was the deciding factor for you to join the cannabis industry?
When I moved from the UK to California in order attend college at UC Santa Cruz, I immediately became aware of the very friendly cannabis laws – so friendly that, in Santa Cruz, recreational cannabis offenses committed by adults are given the lowest priority by local law enforcement, and the city clerk sends annual letters to federal and state legislators petitioning for cannabis law reform.
For me, the decision stemmed from being a lover of the plant and the need to make some money in order to help pay for college. Like a lot of other people who were getting into growing at the time, I quickly went from a hobbyist grower to a full-time professional. Seven years ago the industry was very different; I have had the privilege of growing with the industry and watching it mature.
Holy smokes! The people in this room are literally laying the foundations of the cannabis industry by building their empires.
I realized the green rush was truly upon us a few years ago, when I was fortunate enough to attend an ArcView Group meeting in New York as a presenting company. This experience was unbelievable on so many levels. First, it was somewhat surreal to attend a meeting about capitalizing on a Schedule 1 banned substance. Secondly, the room was filled with press from all four corners of the earth and those in attendance believed that the best way to legalization was to build a legitimate cannabis economy. At the after party I remember looking up at the Empire State Building and thinking, “Holy smokes! The people in this room are literally laying the foundations of the cannabis industry by building their empires.”
Did you have any previous career experiences helped you in your endeavor?
Being a grower has provided me with a unique perspective on the cannabis industry. If you have not been hands-on with the plant, it is very hard to fully appreciate the amount of work and attention to detail that goes into producing high quality medicinal cannabis.
I knew that if I could come up with a product that would make the trimming process more efficient and easier for the worker, I could help a lot of people.
As far as my job history, after school I worked as a bookkeeper, which really allowed me to track my numbers and run an efficient operation. I eventually found that over half my labor costs were attributed to trimming. That opened my eyes as to prospect of optimizing the harvesting and trimming process. I knew that if I could come up with a product that would make the trimming process more efficient and easier for the worker, I could help a lot of people. We tested out all the available solutions, and what stood out to us was that no one had really invented a product that mimics the functionality of handheld scissors, not even in the textile industry.
Explain what you are doing to impact the cannabis industry.
I can’t wait to make a painfully slow job more fun for the entire cannabis community. That’s the idea behind our flagship product – to maintain the culture and practice of applying hand trimmers to cannabis cultivation.
It would be a big hit to local cannabis economies if thousands of laborers were laid off and replaced by the ‘drum-style’ trimming machines. We aim to provide the industry with another option what will make laborious lives easier, while at the same time saving cultivators money and preserving the quality of their harvests.
From where did you draw inspiration to create your product?
Truthfully, Turbo Trimmerz is not a novel dream. It was spawned simply by spending way too many hours with a pair of scissors in my hands, and like everyone else who has undergone this arcane cannabis ritual, we have all dreamed of ways to make our lives easier. The concept itself is pretty simple: We wanted to design a power tool that worked like a pair of scissors. While others may have thought up similar ideas, I was stubborn enough to keep pushing that envelope in hopes to find a viable solution. We did just that when we put a touchpad on top of the device what controls the blades action just like traditional scissors. Ironically, that idea came to me while being elevated at the trimming table while using my iPhone.
Turbo Trimmerz Alpha Prototype
What kind of company achievements are you excited about right now?
We recently completed the development of our latest prototype and we’re coming to the end of our alpha testing on that version of the product. It has long been a dream of mine to see Turbo Trimmerz come to fruition. The reality that this was once just an idea in my head gives me an awesome sense of accomplishment, especially since developing a piece of hardware is such a complex challenge. Like many other entrepreneurs, when I first embarked on this journey, I had no realistic idea of all the facets necessary to make something like this happen, from what needs to be considered when developing a custom PCB (printed circuit board), to creating a product that is a joy to use and something that can be manufactured in the tens of thousands.
A lot of people think they missed the boat on the ‘green rush,’ but that’s not true at all. The boat is still being built.
A few weeks ago, we came out of the closet and started our social media accounts. The feedback we have had on the different platforms has been overwhelming positive. Seeing our customers’ excitement puts a huge smile on my face.
Who do you consider your entrepreneurial role model?
There have been so many people I have drawn inspiration from over the years, but if I had to dial it down to one person, it would have to be Richard Branson. I was lucky enough to meet him when I was younger on one of his early Virgin flights. Branson’s autobiography, “Losing My Virginity,” has left a lasting impression on me. His philosophy has a good balance of capitalism, environmentalism and innovation, while also promoting social mobility.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this industry?
A lot of people think they missed the boat on the ‘green rush,’ but that’s not true at all. The boat is still being built. If you want to be a part of it, the sooner you jump onboard, the better. All you need to do is work hard at it and have a quality product or service to offer the industry. There is plenty of room in the cannabis industry for more competition and new ideas. So what are you waiting for? Go get after it before the boat departs.
What’s most important to you as a cannabis industry professional?
I firmly believe that this should be a space built for the people, by the people. We aim to actively contribute towards cannabis legalization that favors the many, not just the few. I am saddened when I see how some states have erected huge barriers of entry to the roots of this industry. Special interest groups are literally pulling the rug out from under the feet of people who built the industry.
For example, in California AB 266 was recently passed. In my opinion, this is a bill which favors only those who have deep pockets coming into the industry, leaving the roots of the industry out to dry. I personally know far too many “small time” farmers whose livelihoods now hang in the balance.
How will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ will be going this time next year?
One thing’s for sure, the green rush will still be going on, although I doubt we are going to see any cultivators producing over 5% of the total US production. The industry will continue to mature and refine itself as new services and technologies come online.
However, until federal legalization and regulation comes into effect the industry is going to hit a “green ceiling.” The government has a habit of dragging its feet and they have spent too much money fighting cannabis legalization to give it up easily. The cannabis industry can be a model for social capitalism, and if we want to maintain a strong market for the cannabis community, we need to band together and contribute. Otherwise, 10 years from now we are going to be kicking ourselves.
What do you think we will be talking about a year from now in regards to the ‘Green Rush’? Do you think the lack of federal legalization will cap the cannabis industry’s growth? Join the conversation by commenting below!