Vera Kutsenko and Hayley Leibson have incredible tech pedigrees, but their latest venture involves as much digging in dirt as it does digging through lines of code.
The two women have founded Neverland, a startup for the home gardener that aims to be a marketplace connecting mom and pop gardening shops with the explosion of amateur horticulturalists that have sprung up since the pandemic began and everyone needed someone (or something) to talk to.
Gardening businesses were among the big winners during the pandemic, with sales at home and lawn care and gardening businesses shooting up 9% in 2020, according to data from the 200 year-old flower retailer, Breck’s.
It’s that surge in business, and the co-founders’ passion for home plants, that led to the launch of Neverland, they said.
Using customer data, Neverland prompts users on how to optimize their gardens and horticulture activities based on their geographies and what plants customers would want to grow. The company also looks to connect would-be green-thumbed growers with companies in their regions.
“The educational piece we’re pulling from is the USDA agricultural APIs,” said Kutsenko. “We take and translate the super science-y terms into language that [customers] would understand. We’re pulling this from existing government resources and aggregating it and making it accessible to folks.”
For the founders, Neverland is a change of pace. Kutsenko studied computer science at Cornell, worked at Facebook on the Internet.org initiative and led teams working on the mobile app at Uber. Meanwhile, Leibson founded LunchClub and served as that company’s chief operating officer.
Kutsenko and Leibson first connected through a women’s tech networking group in San Francisco and bonded over a shared love of plants. Leibson has roughly 24 plants in her apartment while Kutsenko had a plant nursery that she tended to herself.
“We really view the opportunity for Neverland to be the sustainability focused marketplace,” said Leibson. “The power of what we’re doing is we’re able to create a really consistent support network for the consumer.”
It’s an immense market. Kutsenko said that universally plant and cultivating spending is generally $52 billion and $28 billion of that market is indoor and outside cultivating.
It was both the CVs of the originators and the general size of the market that persuaded financial backers to toss their monetary load behind the organization — and it’s an amazing list of buyer centered and manageability disapproved of financial backers including: Obvious Ventures, Maveron, Kimbal Musk, and Y Combinator, which had Neverland in its latest companion. Altogether, Neverland figured out how to acquire $3 million for its commercial center and planting local area.
Also, since everything begins with local area, the organization has figured out how to hoard a solid after on Instagram even before its booked dispatch this mid year. Effectively 140,000 individuals follow Neverland’s posts. What’s more, the organization has endorsed on 50 venders in the Bay Area and past.