Some entrepreneurs take matters into their own hands.
That’s what happened to Billy Blackburn, a US Air Force veteran and now founder of EZ-CLONE, a cannabis plant cloning system that he started — rather classically — out of his garage. Here’s the latest scoop on the budding company as it heads to the major industry conference, MJ Biz Con.
1. Can you share your background and your interest in the industry?
I am a US Air Force veteran, singer songwriter/musician and self taught horticulturist. I invented the EZ-CLONE aeroponic plant cloning system in my garage back in 1999 and we have been selling our products into the hydroponic industry since 2000. I have a love for growing all types of plants, but a very special interest in propagating and growing cannabis both hydroponically and aeroponically. I’m also very interested in the history of the cannabis plant, learning about its several uses, going back thousands of years.
2. What was your relationship to MJ Biz Con this year?
This was our fourth year being a part of this specific trade show, and it continues to grow exponentially every year. It’s absolutely amazing seeing the type of growth that is occurring as quickly as it is. I have been attending hydroponic trade shows for two decades now, and it has morphed into what has now become the mainstream cannabis Industry. I absolutely love it, and it has been incredible to witness the evolution of this Industry.
3. Cannabis used to be the black sheep of consumables. What has been most potent in turning around that image?
That’s a funny question I have had many late nights discussing with industry friends. In my opinion it has taken many many years for this image to turn around. I have been saying for decades that when the generation changes, so will the laws and the legality of the plant. You can only lie to the masses for so long before they begin to see the wool has been pulled over their eyes. We’re talking about an incredible plant that should have never been made illegal to begin with. That’s why I say that a generation had to change before the acceptance of the plant would occur. We are now seeing that transition, nearly a hundred years later.
4. There’s appeal around growing your own plants. What got you into that mix?
I initially became a grower simply to put food on my plate and pay my rent. Through the process, I fell in love with the science of it. This lead to me experimenting heavily with creating and building my own hydroponic and aeroponic systems. The EZ-CLONE was only first created to solve a problem for myself. I had troubles with the conventional methods of cloning, so I wanted to make something that would save me time, was automated and would work “for me.” I later discovered that it was also one of the largest problems out there at the time for most growers, so I decided to take the product to market, and here we are nearly 20 years later. It’s been a wild ride.
5. What’s the first question your customers ask you?
We are very fortunate now to have customers in a variety of different areas…Hobbyist, commercial and somewhere in-between, but for the most part, it’s…”How did you get started doing what you do?”
6. Congrats on the acquisition. What’s next?
Thank you so much! This has been one crazy year, and also one of the most fulfilling of my life. I have an incredible new team that I am apart of, and I could not be more proud to be working with my new partners. I am extremely excited about the future. I was very specific in the types of resources I was looking for, and was able to find all of it in the GrowLife Crew. I will continue to run EZ-CLONE, and my new team and I are additionally working on several innovations that will be game changers in the market. We will be bringing new technology to the Industry that has yet to be seen.
7. Can you explain EZ-Clone and what makes it stand out from other products on the market?
EZ-CLONE is an aeroponic propagation system used for cloning plants. It was the first product of its kind on the market that specialized in this specific category, and I am proud to say that we have created the “Cloning Machine Niche”. I have been told several times over the years that EZ-CLONE is like Kleenex or Qtip within our market. People say Kleenex to describe a tissue and QTip to describe a cotton swab. Being told that our brand is so well known, that customers use our name to describe plant cloning machines in general, is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. I think building a reputable brand within your own Industry is every entrepreneurs dream. Our job continues to be staying ahead of our competition and creating the next level of aeroponic propagation systems.
Jordan French is the Executive Editor of Grit Daily. An award-winning journalist, he is on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur.
He is the founder of Notability Partners and the co-founder of BNB Shield, Lisbon Hill Farms, Status Labs, BeeHex, BlockTelegraph, and Grit Daily. A biomedical engineer and intellectual-property attorney, French is the author of upcoming book, The Gritty Entrepreneur.