A Q&A with LawnStarter co-founder Steven Corcoran. The Austin-based startup, which offers a lawn care booking platform for consumers, announced last week that it has landed $1 million in new Seed funding. Investors include Gary Vaynerchuk, Rob Taylor, Cotter Cunningham and Rony Kahan. The company was founded in 2013 by Corcoran, Jonas Weigert, and Ryan Farley, and is a past participant in the Techstars accelerator.
SUB: Please describe LawnStarter and your primary innovation.
Corcoran: LawnStarter allows homeowners to order all lawn care services online, pre-priced and guaranteed. We work with hundreds of lawn care providers to make sure our customers get the highest level of service on their lawn, in addition to providing an unmatched level of customer support. Many say the technology that allows our customers to manage their lawn care is the primary innovation, but frankly it is the internal operations that guarantee a consistently high level of service.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Corcoran: Lawn care and landscaping is a $71 billion market annually in the U.S. We are focused on creating the best experience within the residential maintenance segment. Our users are homeowners and typically we see about 50 percent male, 50 percent female.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates LawnStarter from the competition?
Corcoran: Frankly, the primary competition is the current way things are done. There are tens-of-millions of lawns being serviced by existing companies, and if we are to be successful we need to show homeowners there is a better way of doing things and it starts with technology and customer support.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $1 million in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Corcoran: It allows us to take momentum into the season and really grow our provider and consumer userbase. We feel we are ready to really expand our operations, and this money enables us to do that much more quickly.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds, and do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Corcoran: We are going to use the funds to gain deeper penetration in our existing markets such as Fairfax, Virginia, in addition to expanding to new markets such as Austin and Orlando. Additional funding is always an option, but for now we are entirely focused on reaching our goals for this season.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for LawnStarter? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Corcoran: Frankly we started LawnStarter after one of my best friends from high school—I actually owned a lawn care company with him—decided he was quitting his job as an accountant and doing lawn care full-time. It got us really thinking about the industry, and after turning over dozens of rocks we knew there was an opportunity to really help make it better on both sides.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Corcoran: I think in any service industry it is absolutely crucial to understand the problems facing the providers. We spent the first six months really understanding how we could help lawn care companies. I think it has proven incredibly valuable thus far.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Corcoran: We wanted a name that brought about a feeling of a mix between the old school industry and newer technology—hence, ‘LawnStarter’ was born.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Corcoran: There are always challenges, but the one I am most proud of is building out our team. We have seven rock solid people working every day to make our vision a reality, and I love every minute of it.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Corcoran: We are able to make money by getting homeowners onto our platform.
SUB: What are your goals for LawnStarter over the next year or so?
Corcoran: We want to bring homeowners a truly ‘wow’ experience and expand our presence in multiple cities.