Tag: Lawnstarter

LawnStarter Raises $1 Million in Seed Financing

images (13)LawnStarter announced Wednesday that it has landed $1 million in seed round financing.

The Austin-based online lawn care company raised the money to expand into new markets.

The funds came from several angel investors including Rob Taylor, Cotter Cunningham, Pat Matthews as well as venture fund Vayner RSE, headed up by Gary Vaynerchuk.

LawnStarter, founded in 2013, created a platform to easily connect homeowners with lawn care companies online or through a mobile app.

“It’s easy to create a lawn care app, and quite frankly, it doesn’t solve the big problems,” CEO and co-founder Steve Corcoran said in a news release. “The lawn care industry is broken and complex, so it’s important to focus on the operations, industry knowledge, and customer experience as well.”

LawnStarter, founded in the Washington, D.C. area, relocated to Austin last year for the Techstars Austin program. They decided to stay here after the program ended. The company currently operates in the Washington, D.C. area, Austin and Orlando, Florida. They plans to expand throughout the Southwest region by next year, said Ryan Farley, co-founder.

“The demand actually exceeds what we expected, so we’re happy about that,” he said. “This capital will help us acquire additional resources and rock star employees in order to scale our operations while maintaining the amazing service that customers love.”

Silicon Hills News did this story on LawnStarter last year when it launched in Austin.

LawnStarter Launches in Austin to Simplify Lawn Care for Consumers

Ryan Farley, co-founder of LawnStarter, a Techstars company in Austin

Ryan Farley, co-founder of LawnStarter, a Techstars company in Austin

When the temperatures hit triple digits in Austin, many homeowners don’t want to mow the lawn.

A new startup, part of Techstars in Austin, has a solution.

LawnStarter, founded in August of 2013, wants to take the pain out of lawn maintenance by hooking up homeowners with lawn care crews. The company officially launched this week and provides service to all of Austin and many outlying areas from Marbles Falls to San Marcos and Round Rock.

LawnStarter is taking a “highly fragmented, old school industry” and bringing it into the digital age, said Ryan Farley, one of the founders.

“The bar for the customer experience is extremely low,” Farley said.

That’s why it’s ripe for disruption, he said. Farley and Steve Corcoran founded the company originally in the Washington, D.C. area with $110,000 in seed stage capital they raised from a group of angel investors. This summer, they relocated to Austin for the Techstars accelerator.

“Texas is one of the biggest markets for lawn care,” Farley said.

A few guys have become millionaires doing lawn care but that that’s a small fraction of the market, Farley said. In fact, the top 50 lawn care companies account for just 15 percent of the market, he said.

“There’s lots of small companies out there that need help,” Farley said.

While Farley didn’t grow up mowing lawns, he did work on grounds maintenance during the summertime and for a golf course. His co-founder, Corcoran ran a lawn mowing business.

In studying the industry, they found some lawn service companies are completely offline and don’t even have a website. They typically are one to two person companies, Farley said.

“They are at a point in their business where managing the business is becoming hectic,” he said.

LawnStarter wants to take the pain and paperwork out of the process, Farley said. The company takes 15 percent to 20 percent on each transaction, depending on the job. The average price for lawn service is $48 for half-acre lots, Farley said. And typically, homeowners get their lawns mowed every few weeks.

LawnStarter’s platform matches consumers with lawn care providers and lets them get an estimate for any yard work with a few clicks.

LawnStarter is working on developing partnerships with national chains. The company wants to scale to provide service to the entire Southwest region of the U.S. by next summer, Farley said.

“The shared economy is doing well right now,” said Brandon Marker, analyst with Techstars in Austin.

Companies like HomeJoy have found success matching cleaners with consumers.

“But this does not exist for lawn care,” Marker said. “People have tried to make this work for lawn care but they haven’t succeeded so far. I don’t believe that’s because there isn’t a need or a market for it. It’s just difficult to do.”

But the LawnStarter team has got all the ingredients to make it work, Marker said. And now people are more comfortable with the shared economy.

The LawnStarter founders taught themselves how to code and gave up good jobs on Wall Street to do LawnStarter.

“They turned a great deal of financial experience into coding experience,” Marker said. “They found out how to do this successfully in the Washington, D.C. market. And now they’re replicating that success in the Austin market.”

Techstars Austin Unveils its Second Class

logo@2xA Longhorn Startup company, Burpy, is among the latest crop of Techstars Austin companies selected to participate in its three month long accelerator.

Burpy, founded by a group of UT undergraduates and led by Aseem Ali, is an online grocery delivery business available in Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.

The other team from Austin is Experiment Engine, which runs split tests for companies by a panel of experts. The rest of the teams come from New York City, Brooklyn, Birmingham, Blacksburg, Phoenix, Marina del Rey, San Diego, Belfast and London. The 11 Techstars Austin teams are an electric group ranging from Brewbot, a beer brewing robot to Pivot Freight, a rate comparison engine for freight shipping. Techstars selected them from more than 1,500 applicants.

Smart Host, the team from New York, won the 2014 Startup Bus competition at Rackspace just before SXSW. The company created an app that aggregates and analyzes the short-term rental market from sites like HomeAway and AirBnB so a person renting out their place can price it correctly.

The program kicked off Monday and will run through Sept. 3rd when it will host its demo day, according to Jason Seats, the program’s managing director.

“Heading into the second program in Austin, we’re fortunate to have many of our 2013 Austin alumni on the ground as well as almost 100 incredible mentors,” Seats wrote in a blog post announcing the latest class on the Techstars website.

Each of the companies selected gets $18,000 in seed funding and are offered a $100,000 convertible note. They also get perks such as free website hosting and office space. When the program ends, many of the companies go on to raise money from angel investors and venture capitalists.

The Techstars Summer 2014 Austin class:

Brewbot – A beer brewing robot controlled and monitored by your smartphone.

Burpy – Delivering same-day groceries and home essentials from a variety of local stores.

Cloud66 – Deploy and manage Ruby apps on any cloud.

Common Form – Do your taxes in 5 minutes from your pc or mobile device.

Experiment Engine – A/B testing with a marketplace of conversion experts.

Fashion Metric – Using big data to enhance fit and sizing for apparel retailers and brands.

Free Textbooks – Equips student influencers with software to replace their bookstore.

LawnStarter – The easiest way to order and manage lawn care.

NMRKT – Powering eCommerce for blogs, online magazines, and content creators.

Pivot Freight – Rate comparison engine and discount broker for freight shipping.

Smart Host – Intelligently price your short-term and vacation rental.

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