The inspiration to start a lawn care company came from Coulter Lewis while one day buying lawn care products. The entrepreneur, who previously worked as a designer and co-founder of a snack company, said the stink of pesticides and herbicides was too strong to ignore.
Lewis began looking for safer alternatives to manure his back yard. His research showed he wasn't alone: a typical farmed lawn in the US contains five times more pesticides per acre than the average industrial farm. A lack of options in the market inspired him to create his own.
Founded in 2019, Sunday is a direct customer company that aims to sell bespoke, eco-friendly lawn care products to approximately 90 million Americans who have lawn. To date, it has fertilized more than 10,000 hectares of lawn.
"We sell Agtech for your garden," said Lewis. It's a catchy way of describing the more complicated process of creating custom lawn plans. The company hired Cornell PhD Chief Science Officer Frank Rossi to develop its core product, which requires a mix of technology and science to function.
Sunday Start by providing a customer's home address and their location will help you find out what types of floors they'll be working with. Using machine learning, satellite imagery, and trait data, Sunday creates a custom plan of nutrients to address problem areas such as grass health in various bioenvironmental situations. The end product contains ingredients that are difficult to find in commercial solutions, such as algae extract and soy protein.
The kits include instructions, a sachet of pre-measured nutrients to attach to a hose and spray, and a soil test. While each kit is customized, lawn care products are strictly regulated and require state approval. Sunday has now released 24 iterations of its core product that meet this approval.
Once the solution is in place, customers will have to pay for a full season or year to get home installments. With customers using Sunday's lawn care products, the startup also uses aerial photographs to check the status of users' lawns throughout the experience.
Sunday sells at different prices and depends on the size of the lawn. However, Lewis claims that this is "a lot cheaper" than hiring a professional to fertilize your lawn. "If you look at a lot of the more modern (consumer) businesses, there's more of a millennial focus on the coast," he said. "While we think more of 90 million Americans, the median income per household is $ 65,000."
Interestingly, Sunday says its clients are younger, between 30 and 40 years old, and are focused on Central American states (where turf is more of a reality). The age range makes sense as it includes new families moving to the suburbs and first time homeowners. Most customers have smaller suburban lawns.
When asked why they don't sell to golf courses or go the B2B route, Lewis said, "It's certainly something we think about a lot." The company is currently working with parks to remove toxic pesticides from public spaces. However, the talks are still at an early stage.
The lack of innovation in lawn care could also indicate a lack of consumer demand. One of the biggest hurdles on Sunday when it launched in 2019 was convincing consumers to mind one of the biggest crops in the backyard – their backyards.
The coronavirus has also accelerated the migration of new families from cities to suburbs, Lewis says. Home ownership has hit a 12-year high, according to the census. This year, the Sunday as in 2019 should achieve 8 times the turnover, with "millions in revenue". Lewis declined to share profitability metrics or respond on whether Sunday was profitable.
Even so, venture capitalists seem optimistic about a startup offering an alternative to lawn maintenance.
Today, Sunday, it was announced that it had raised $ 19 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital. with the participation of Tusk Ventures and Forerunner Ventures. The increase brings Stephanie Zhan, partner at Sequoia Capital, to the board.
In an email to TechCrunch, Zhan compared Sunday to other Sequoia portfolio companies like Glossier, DoorDash, Instacart and Noom. ”
With the new money, Sunday can expand its 40 employees with 30 new hires. There is currently only one female executive on the Sunday team, although Lewis says they commit to hiring a more diverse team.
It takes capital to feed the average American household, and with the new funding, Sunday has a total of $ 28 million in known venture funding to at least help your yard.