Skye Durrant and Brandon Bertrang have been in their business a long time. They started out small, working landscaping jobs as teens. Now in their 20s, they are working to scale a startup, LawnGuru, that could fundamentally change how the landscaping business works.
“Brandon and I started cutting lawns together in high school,” Durrant says. “We turned a tiny lawncare company into a multi-million-dollar business.”
They have bigger aspirations today. The partners are making the jump from landscaping small business owners to startup co-founders with LawnGuru.
The Wixom-based startup’s mobile platform enables users to hire landscapers to mow lawns in much the same way Uber does with rides. The mobile app connects an independent contractor with someone who needs a job done. This way contractors can choose jobs close to where they have an established workload, maximizing the efficiency and earning potential of a workday. Property owners, on the other hand, are able to find reliable contractors at competitive prices.
Most landscaping companies are owner-operated. That means these mom-and-pop businesses cut the lawns, manage employees, file paperwork, recruit new clients, and handle all of the other problems that come with running a company. LawnGuru gives them a chance to grow their clientele and handle some of the backend of the business with little extra work.
LawnGuru launched in May covering the metro Detroit area. It now has a couple thousand users across Michigan, mostly in southeast Michigan. It recently added snowplowing services to its offerings and is working to grow across the state.
“We will be pretty well positioned in Michigan by the end of this month,” Durrant says.
Growing that fast is anything but easy. The initial plan was to spread across the Michigan, then the Midwest, then North America. That has changed.
LawnGuru was selected to 500 Startups, an early stage venture capital firm and startup accelerator. LawnGuru and its team of eight people are currently wrapping up the 500 Startups accelerator program in Silicon Valley. Its biggest takeaway so far is that it needs to find better ways to scale its growth. The startup is raising a seed capital round (it won $25,000 at last fall’s Accelerate Michigan innovation Competition) and taking copious notes on how best to enter a new market, how much it will cost, where to find the right contractors, and how to organize it all so it works smoothly for the customer. The team is feeling confident enough in it now that it’s looking at expanding to the Chicago, Cleveland, and Indianapolis areas later this year and next.
“Now we have a strong playbook of how to enter a new market,” Durrant says.
– Written by Jon Zemke