Sisu in Action: A Year in Review

Sisu is the Finnish concept of enduring strength, resilience, and perseverance in the face of challenges with insurmountable odds against you. It’s looking inward to find the grit to move forward in situations that others might see as hopeless. This piece of Finnish culture is something we find in each ecoation team member. Without leaning into this concept and drawing inspiration from our Nordic brothers and sisters, it’s likely that we would not be set up for the success in 2021 we are seeing in front of us today. Before this year comes to an end, the team has come together to share what it means to have SISU in our DNA, how we've leaned into this value to push forward, and as a result, what we are most proud of when looking back.

Read more here on the significance of Sisu in Finnish culture and history.


Remaining Focused:

Advancing Horticulture from 6-Feet Apart

A capture from one of the earlier ZOOM meeting days.

ecoation’s team grew by over 20+ new engineers, plant experts, and business professionals since March of 2020, who all onboarded online and came together to rethink and design a completely new product from the ground up. The truth is: You can’t build robots from home. This is a special nod to those who came into the office every day to engineer a better way and also those who stepped aside, made room for team members in the office to stay safe, and found new ways to deliver in their role from home. What does it take to make the necessary sacrifices to push forward in the face of immense resistance? When asked how the team remained focused and determined to succeed this year, their answers illustrated two recurring themes: the value in the work we do and the people that we get to do it with.

“I really identify with the goals and values of ecoation, so between that and our great team, I’ve been able to focus despite the uncertainty of everything in 2020.” - Kevin, Team Lead, Embedded Systems

“We are a tight knit-team at ecoation and everyone steps up when the project requires it. As soon as we are able to identify any issue felt anywhere in the business, we are able to pull together the experts and stakeholders and identify our options or additional information needed to solve the problem fast and effectively. With this approach, it feels like nothing can phase us. I have seen us solve problems that looked like they would cause a project delay in just a few hours to keep the project on track.” - Steve, Product Design Manager.

“I believe in the product and the company. I think we have a great team who have all worked hard to make sure we succeed in 2021.” - Tara, IPM Specialist

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, tours ecoation HQ via ZOOM in Oct. 2020.

It is no small endeavour to feed nations. We acknowledge the immense pressure and challenges that come with being a farmer and if our growers are continuing to work to put food on our tables during these difficult times, we are most certainly going to work to support them. As a testament to this, ecoation did not shut down our operations for even one day.

Saber, CEO (Left), Sven, COO (Middle), Tara, IPM Specialist (Right)

Pride in Our Work During a Difficult Year

Looking back, we have a lot to be proud of. When asked about what they are most proud of, personally and as a team, our citizens reflected on a difficult, yet successful year, where the challenge was daunting but there were no compromises made.

“I joined ecoation in February and was tasked with designing the details and bringing the ecoation product roadmap to life. One year later, I am very proud to say that we have launched a new product that is a complete ground up redesign with brand new technology offering real user benefits. We made no compromises and yet this is the fastest I have ever achieved a new product launch.” - Steve, Product Design Manager.

“This was my first year as a member of the ecoation team. I came here from another product design and development company with a much larger team. We had a reputation there for getting hardware products out the door quickly and efficiently, which by industry standards meant 10-14 months depending on the complexity. Here, I’ll have been involved in two product launches in that same time span, with an even more complex product. I’d call that an impossible task, but we’re on track to do it.” - Chris, Mechanical Engineer.

“The work we have done to get Tantalus ready. It involved a lot of work, a lot of new territory for everybody, and a demanding deadline. From what I saw, everyone took this challenge with great commitment.” - Lino, Computer Vision Engineer.

"ecoation leans into sisu by setting ambitious targets. We learned a lot from the product that we launched and deployed in 2019 and managed to use these insights to redesign and build a new product." - Maryam, Founder & CTO.

“Keep working on a problem until the issue is found and can be fixed! Don’t give up if it does not work after the first couple of tries, keep at it, do not give up! This applies to the development of technology as well as resolving customer issues in the field.” - Ron, Lead Embedded Engineer


A word from Saber:

“2020 was a special year for ecoation. In 2019, we had deployed several machines in various countries only to discover in February of this year that a major component of the device had failed across the board. Consequently, we had customers who were unhappy (for all the right reasons) because we failed to deliver what we promised.

And then COVID happened. As a company we had two choices: we could have sulked in our tears, declared defeat, put our tails between our legs, faded away, and blamed COVID -OR- muster the extraordinary courage to regroup, rethink, and rebuild in the light of a massive disappointment (and a life-threatening global pandemic). I’m confident that our immense progress and accomplishments in the last year makes it clear what option we chose! The top accomplishments of 2020 in my eyes are:

1. A renewed sense of camaraderie, self-awareness, and energy in a team that faced massive technological challenges, customer dissatisfaction, and a global pandemic. I asked my team to search for courage and surprise themselves by achieving the unthinkable. Each and every single one of them exceeded my expectations. Gathering this fantastic team and convincing them to stay at ecoation was our biggest accomplishment of the year.

2. We designed a completely new device from the ground up and went from concept-to-prototype-to-product-to-manufacturing in an unimaginable record time. We poured the lessons learned from our first 18-months in the field into a product that has unlocked new possibilities for the company.

3. Making the business decision to opt for cart-independence so the OKO solution can be easily mounted on existing greenhouse fleets was a productive, necessary, and wonderful change. This has made the adoption of the technology exponentially easier.

4. We took a step back from our technical components to think strategically about what our customers need. Given the labour shortage, we introduced the Immersive+ program which combines the OKO platform with certified ecoation operators and scouts. This package is currently available for Canadian greenhouses.

5. We forged important and strategic partnerships with amazing companies and organizations (some you’ve heard about already and some you will hear about soon) that will help us to ensure a solid experience and perfect service offering globally.

6. We filed 8 new patents as foundations for groundbreaking, world-first technological AI advances, including a 3D climate map with live broadcasting and immersive ‘Virtual Walk’ 8K 360 views of greenhouse operations to facilitate true remote crop management.

Riley, Agronomist (Left) and Daniel, IPM Scout at West Coast Vegetables (Right)

I am very proud of our team, or as we call them in ecoation nation, our citizens, who against all odds, where there was no hope, completely redesigned the entire stack of the company fresh from the ground up, kept their eyes on the prize, and marched towards the mission that has never changed: empowering growers through real-time analytics, remote crop management, and AI-powered assistance.”

- Dr. Saber Miresmailli, ecoation Founder & CEO.

Founder and CEO, Saber, before leaving the office to personally deliver gifts to team members.

We want to thank our customers for taking the time and energy to give us the feedback and insights we needed to step into 2021 with our new and improved next generation of OKO.

We wish all of our team members, our growers, and their families a very warm, safe, and happy holiday. We will see you all in the new year, with a new solution, and something to prove.