A new British start-up connecting frustrated and time-restricted gardeners with vetted professionals to look after their green areas with a range of garden services is to launch a crowdfunding campaign to attract investment and achieve growth.
The venture, called fastgardener, is the brainchild of a quartet of people from a variety of backgrounds (finance, technology and gardening itself) who found it hard to get hold of a gardener and saw an opening in the market. Much in the way other tech-based newcomers who shook up their respective industries operate (Uber, Airbnb and others), fastgardener is based around a mobile app or website and, in essence, facilitates a service with technology.
One of the founders, Khaled McGonnell, has said he had the idea for the company when he had a young family and a daily commute to London. He did not want his precious weekend time at home used up tending to his garden instead of spending time with his wife and toddler daughter. “Our mission is to use technology to make garden maintenance as easy as possible”, he said.
Many people may have the notion of gardening as a relatively sedate pastime and the preserve of the elderly with lots of time on their hands. But the reality is far different. In fact, gardening is big business in both the private and commercial sector (office buildings). While it is true that the British have always had a love affair with their gardens, the frenetic pace of modern life and the pressures of work and family mean growing numbers of people just don't have the time to look after their gardens.
This has given rise to a garden services sector in the UK that is now worth around £1 billion a year, according to official figures. Fastgardener estimates there are about 68,000 professional gardeners around the UK — and it has already signed up 82 of them to provide its garden services. The company also says there are around two billion square metres of private gardens in Britain — and it is aiming to tap into many of them. Other notable figures from fastgardener are a 285% increase in turnover from April to May this year as its profile started to rise, and that the firm estimates the lifetime value of customers at £317.
Easy Garden Services
Fastgardener is hoping to attract would-be gardeners with either little time, knowledge or inclination to use its garden services that come with an affordable hourly rate. All the gardening essentials are covered, such as lawn-mowing, hedge and shrub trimming, leaf and debris clearance and pruning and weeding. Customers can also get help with their vegetable gardens, as long as there is a gardener specialising in horticulture available in their area. Once the work is done, customers have 24 hours to review it before agreeing it's a job done well — or there's no fee.
For gardeners (those who are suitably qualified and have the necessary experience), there's a chance to earn a substantial amount of extra cash: up to £800 or more a week, fastgardener says. Sign-up is free and, if they're accepted, gardeners get free leads and the company only gets paid when they do.
The crowdfunding campaign is due to go live on Seedrs on June 26 and the four budding entrepreneurs are hoping to raise an initial £80,000. If they reach their target, McGonnell says the money will be used “to fund an aggressive marketing plan that will build the business up to £1million annual turnover, grow our gardener network so we have deep coverage in every major UK city and, if we overfund, we will also build a new online garden design service”.