Here’s what you need to know
Are London businesses shunning traditional investor sources and taking their capital pitches directly to the public? If the example of a new start-up is any example, then the answer is yes.
It’s fastgardener, another instance of technology bringing supply and demand together for mutual benefit, in this case, frustrated or time-poor gardeners with vetted professionals who are up to the task of getting any green space into shape.
Like tech-disruptors Uber and Airbnb, fastgardener operates via an app and website platform connecting both sides. But, you may say, is there any such tech need for gardeners? Aren’t we able to mow our own lawns, trim our hedges and brush away all that mounting debris?
No, according to one of the founders of fastgardener, Khalid McGonnell. While we may be capable of doing all that and more, many of us either don’t have the time or the inclination to do so.
An idea taking root
That was exactly the experience McGonnell found himself in a short while back. He had a toddler daughter, a wife who worked full-time and he himself endured a daily commute into London. Maintaining his garden at the weekends was the last thing on his mind, he said in a recent interview. So he, along with a trio of friends, set about filling an obvious and growing opportunity in the market.
“I hated having to take time off or eat into my weekend to get a gardener in to provide a quote, let alone actually do the gardening. I figured there must be a better way. When I saw that gardening hadn’t moved with the times, I saw a gap in the market and fastgardener was born,” he said.
And so, fastgardener is now up and running and looking for funds to grow and expand. The destination of choice is the Seedrs start-up crowdfunding platform, with the funding drive set to go live on 26 June. But why crowdfunding?
“There are so many benefits to crowdfunding and we always knew that this would be our first step after bootstrapping,” McGonnell explained.
“Conventional loans are hard to come by for start-ups and, whilst we expect to work with private or angel investors in the future, we know the crowdfunding process will produce collateral and credibility which will aid us in future funding rounds.”
A blooming business
For those who don’t know, gardening services in the UK is big business £1bn a-year big business, according to official figures. As part of its investor information presentation, fastgardener, which focuses heavily on London gardening services, has unearthed some interesting statistics.
According to the company, there are 68,000 professional gardeners around the UK (82 of them have signed up to the service so far, where they stand to make up to £800 or more a week) and two billion square metres of private gardens. That’s apart from the many commercial premises (office buildings, manufacturing sites and others) that need professional gardening services to keep them looking pristine.
All the gardening essentials are included in fastgardener’s maintenance services, including lawn mowing, debris clearance, hedge and shrub trimming, pruning, weeding and planting. When the work is done, customers get 24 hours to appraise it before agreeing it has been completed to their satisfaction, before payment is taken. The company charges what it says is an affordable hourly rate that works out between £15 to £27 an hour. It operates a “no-fee guarantee” that means if customers are not happy with the work done, they don’t pay.
Fastgardener is hoping to raise a modest £80,000 from the Seedr campaign. McGonnell says this money will be used “to fund an aggressive marketing plan that will build the business up to £1m 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.”
Now it’s up to the wisdom of the crowdfunding masses to see if this is one idea that will germinate and eventually flower.