⚡ Signal - A $1.7 Billion Industry Ready and Waiting

Also inside: How to start a 700k-subscriber YouTube channel on the side.

Hey Everyone!

Last call for Startup Labs applications. I’ll be getting in touch with everyone this week and kicking things off.

The TL;DR: Startup Labs is about helping you start your own business. It takes you from idea, through validation and gets you on your path to revenue. Think of it as your startup mentor. You don’t need to have a business yet.

Let’s get into this week’s edition!

🚀 Startup Labs

// A business idea, explored

🌿 Indoor Plants

I’m still bullish on the WFH trend. I don’t think it is a ‘trend’ - actually. It’s here to stay. People are going to be working from home.

And they’re changing their work spaces to make that transition. You need a good environment to be productive.

Enter: Indoor plants.

Sources: etsy.com, gardentrading.co.uk, thewonderforest.com, terraplanter.com

Terraplanter just raised over $6 million USD on Kickstarter for a no-soil indoor planter. (See image top right above for product, and below for numbers)

The plant industry is said to be worth over $48 billion USD in the US, with Bloomberg reporting that indoor plants specifically account for $1.7 Billion of this, growing 50% in the last three years alone.

The majority of the market are millenials - less than 34 years old. It’s becoming difficult and expensive to own a garden, so consumers are bringing the garden indoors.

Consider the trends of some of the most common house plant names worldwide:

Data from Mangools.

The thing is, majority of that revenue is generated through brick and mortar stores like Home Depot.

And that’s where there is an opportunity.

⚡ The Opportunity

There are quite a few. Here are some ideas:

  • Plant rental service: Customers get plants in their house for a month at a time, when the company comes around and switches them out with fresh ones.

  • Indoor plant care info: Naturally, I’d start a blog/newsletter. Help people be better at choosing and taking care of their plants.

  • Sell indoor plants online: Make it unique. Have a ‘plant-match-maker’ which asks questions to match customers with their ideal plant. Sell the whole package.

  • Help nurseries make the move online: By only selling during office hours and to people willing to go to a nursery and find the right plant, they’re missing a ton of potential sales. Facilitate the hybrid sales model move.

  • Become a grower: All this demand means supply is going to be under pressure. Couple that with extremely high unemployment levels in the US and a clever model for crowd-sourcing growing you could have a good business model.

  • Sell seeds online: Half the fun is growing the plants. There’s also much less demand for seeds in the consumer space. High margin opportunity.

  • Plant accessories online: Half the aesthetic with an indoor plant is the pretty pot it sits in. And the right growing light. The accessories market is ready for a new player!

Since we went in on how to start an eCommerce business last week, let’s go for the eCommerce plant store option.

💥 Features

To get some inspiration going, look here:

  • The Sill (their website is one of my favourite-looking Shopify stores out there), a well known online plant store, has raised $7.5 million USD in two rounds (Crunchbase). According to SimilarWeb, they get circa 500k monthly unique views.

Here are some features I’d include:

  • Ability to buy seeds version + an eBook on how to germinate/grow the plant.

  • Sell the best plant-growing content there is as eBooks. (Eg: The Complete Guide on How to Grow Indoor Plants from Cuttings)

  • Build a story. Partner with an old age home or something similar and teach the elderly/whoever you partner with how to grow your plants. Give them profit share. Make a story about your brand. A plant becomes much more sentimental when there’s a story attached with it.
    If I were doing this, I’d find a disadvantaged children’s home and partner with them. I’d give them all the tools and resources to grow their own plants, and give them a share in the profit of any sales from their plants. I’d take photos of them growing their plants and include it with the plant delivery.

  • Offer plant rehab, for a fee. If someone is killing their plant, offer an exchange where you deliver another plant and taking the dying one back to be rescued (or tossed).

  • Offer curated subscriptions based on where you live and the amount of space available.

📈 Gameplan

Make sure there is local demand. The trend is evident globally, but you need to make sure it aligns with your culture. One size does not fit all. Check out Google Keyword Planner or you can get a free trail of Mangools for search volume analysis (as above) to get a good idea of whether there are inquiries online in your area.

Product

  1. Figure out what plants you’re going to sell. Do some research on the best indoor species for your area. Go to local nurseries and speak to the sales-people. Buy a few for yourself. Brush up on your knowledge so you can offer the right products.

  2. Even better: Pick a niche. Plants that are impossible to kill or, herbs for cooking that look great in a pot etc.

  3. You don’t have to start big. Pick a few (5-10) and start with those.

  4. Choose some complimentary products. Potting soil, pots, tools etc. Make sure they’re easy to source. If you’re feeling adventurous, find someone who can brand them for you. We’re not talking any old gardening tools here. Think raw wood, pastel colours, copper - fancy!

  5. If you’ve got some space in a backyard with some sun, and a pair of green fingers, you can do this yourself with some off-cuts and seeds. This is super low risk (and fun!). You don’t have to find any supplier - you are the supplier. Getting your hands dirty (literally) will also give you insight on plant care and help you create content around these plants.

  6. If you do go this route… document it! Take pictures, timelapses, videos. Make it personal. People are attached to a story [see note in Features above].

  7. Develop a replenishment schedule for stock. You need to make sure there are plants (ready to ship) becoming available every week. This will probably need to be ramped up as demand and sales increase.

Admin

  1. Come up with a name.

  2. Get a super simple logo.

  3. Build a website. Recommended: Shopify

  4. Setup an email service provider. Recommended: Mailchimp.

See here for more details.

Customers

  1. SEO quick wins. Do some keyword research around the subject of working from home. It doesn’t have to be plant-related. Think about things like “setting up a home office”, “relaxing home office setup” etc.

  2. Leverage distribution of partners.

  3. Friends and family.

  4. Paid ads - if you’re good at them. Because this appealing to a mostly younger generation, and it is such a visually appealing thing, I’d go with mostly Facebook and Instagram ads. Make your ads different - use GIF’s and play on your strategic partnerships.

  5. Find other strategic partners who have a set customer base. What complimentary brands share a similar audience with you? Computer accessories. Lifestyle brands.

  6. Reach out to companies who have remote employee’s. Allow them to send employee’s plants as care packages. Find out employee’s birthday’s and let the company automatically send employee’s birthday presents at home.

  7. Go to your customers. Work with young offices who have employee’s in the office and ask if you can add a few plants to their waiting area (for free) and leave some flyers under the plants.

  8. As you grow, your social element will be big. Make sure you have a memorable brand + nice domain so word of mouth is easy to encourage. Curate a killer Instagram feed.


What did you think of this?

💡 Go More In Depth

👍🏽 Helped Me


🛠️ Skill Builder

// A skill to add to your founder’s toolbox

[3/10] Business Growth

✔️ Productive work.

As a founder, you’re going to have a lot on your plate - especially in the early days. Until you have employee’s to delegate to (and even still then), you are going to bounce around from task to task.

The trick is not to.

Focused work (i.e: one task at a time) is the best way to make real progress.

Whether it’s prospecting for leads, or responding to important emails, making sure you stay on the same task until it’s done (or you’ve made satisfactory progress) is crucial.

Here’s how you can do that:

[1] Have an ‘idea splash’ place.

I use Google Keep.

Whenever an idea pops into my head, it goes into the idea splash note, and I keep going with what I’m doing. I close the tab immediately.

[2] Have a project outline.

I use Notion.

Anything I’m working on has a tab in there and whenever something pops up relating to that, I jot it down in that tab. That’s where projects grow, morph and change.

[3] Have a project tracker.

I use ToDoIst.

The project tracker converts your project definitions in [2] into actionable steps. What are you working on next, and when it should be done by.

[4] Schedule your time.

I use Google Calendar.

When I know what’s next on my plate, I use Google Calendar to set times in my day for working on specific tasks. Being proactive and specific with scheduling your time means you’re reluctant to give it to other people (meetings and emails).

[5] Use a timer.

I use a desktop timer in an open tab.

I work in 50 minute ‘sprints’. In those sprints, my phone is off (or in Focus Mode) and I have a set task for the sprint, as laid out in the schedule in step 4. 10 minute rest and stretch (not looking at my PC). In the mornings I do 4 of these one after the other and then rest for 30 minutes to 45 minutes. In the afternoons (when I’m less productive) I do 2, and then another 2.

[6] Keep distractions out.

Distractions cause mental fatigue. Open tabs, messages, notifications. Remove them. If you’re a tab opener, use Session Buddy to keep track of open windows, and open and close them as you need them.


🎤 From the Founder's Mouth

// A valuable piece of advice from someone who's done it before

Life is short. Here’s how to spend time doing things that matter.

If you ask yourself what you spend your time on that's bullshit, you probably already know the answer. Unnecessary meetings, pointless disputes, bureaucracy, posturing, dealing with other people's mistakes, traffic jams, addictive but unrewarding pastimes.

There are two ways this kind of thing gets into your life: it's either forced on you, or it tricks you. To some extent you have to put up with the bullshit forced on you by circumstances. You need to make money, and making money consists mostly of errands. Indeed, the law of supply and demand insures that: the more rewarding some kind of work is, the cheaper people will do it. It may be that less bullshit is forced on you than you think, though. There has always been a stream of people who opt out of the default grind and go live somewhere where opportunities are fewer in the conventional sense, but life feels more authentic. This could become more common.

Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Ycombinator


🖱️ Clickworthy

// Valuable tidbits from around the interweb

🧠 A tool I’ve been using to keep my focused this week: Brain.fm. It works much better than normal music, and keeps out the sounds of a busy house during the day. Pair it with noise-cancelling head phones and you’ve got a winning productivity combo.

📹 How to start a 700k YouTube channel while studying medicine.

⌨️ An archive of every blog post Marc Andreessen wrote before he took his blog down. Some great content about Startup’s from one of the founders of Andreessen Horowitz.

👐🏽 An updated version of the original 1000 true fans article. This is a must read for any entrepreneur.

🍋 Ever been stuck trying to come up with a catchy headline? Enter: Headlime. “Write headlines like a professional copywriter”

⏩ Making sure your website is as efficient as possible is important. You lose a ton of traffic if it takes too long to load. Run yours through a website grader like this one, to see how you can improve.

The full version of the “From the Founder’s Mouth” quote above. It’s a great essay on helping you decide where to spend your precious time.


👋 The End Notes

// I know, I know. I can almost hear you saying "Don't go, don't go." 

That's it for this week. Hope there was some value in there for you.

How did you find this edition?

👍 YES - I liked it
〰️ MEH - Average
👎 NO - Almost no value

--


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See yah next week, thanks for reading!

- Simon