Lawn Love - Making the Grass a Little Bit Greener

Have a lawn? A Garden? A potted herb planter? Lawn Love is helps you hire a talented lawn pro.

Deep down, there’s at least a small part of each of us that lusts for the spacious, verdant, impeccably manicured lawns from 70’s sitcoms and Coca Cola commercials. There’s probably also a bigger piece that balks at the thought of waking up with the sun on a Saturday to mow that behemoth green monster before it turns into untamed wilderness. That’s why, whether you’re a homeowner or not, you’ll probably immediately understand the appeal of Lawn Love.

Starting in 2014, Jeremy Yamaguchi and his “nest of quiet killers" have been building a massive network of lawn care professionals that’s now germinated in 90 different cities across the United States. Whether you’re in need of a mow, a clipping, or even a snow shoveling, Lawn Love connects you with nearby certified lawn professionals and dispatches them in super-efficient routes to take care of lawn work reliably, efficiently, and affordably.

We spoke to Jeremy to ask him about Lawn Love and the future of our yards.

What’s the Lawn Love Origin Story?

Years ago, I started a home services company called Golden Shine. I ran that for four years before selling it. It started in the typical way: I went to book a maid and realized that the only options were these huge overpriced franchise chains or providers on Craigslist who were very low tech and often unreliable. It was an unpleasant experience across the board. At that time I was running a software consulting firm and had a lot of depth on product and marketing. So I built a marketplace in the space that was a lot like a Handy, but we started 3 years prior, and we bootstrapped the whole thing.

How did that lead to Lawn Love?

Well I built Golden Shine and ran it for a few years. But after exiting that company I knew I wanted to build something really big in the home services market. It’s a great industry to work in because, first, it's huge, somewhere around a half a trillion dollars a year in the US. I’m talking lawn care, pool cleaning, home cleaning, things like that.

It's also massively fragmented and low tech. I was particularly drawn to lawn care because it's one of the largest verticals and the service all happens outside the house. There was a lot of pain in Golden Shine because the customer has to be present to open the door and that makes for a lot of logistics headaches. But for lawn care, we can have the pro show up any time that day. That makes it a lot easier to organize these complex home marketplaces that operate across 90+ cities.

There's something good and special about the lawn care space that uniquely lends itself to this marketplace type solution. Lawn pros were this last bastion of pens and paper. We sell two main things at Lawn Love. For the consumer, we make it way easier to find, book and manage lawn services. They get a better consumer buying experience and a fundamentally better end product. That's the customer value prop.

Lawn pros were this last bastion of pens and paper.

For the pros, the value is totally different. We stream a huge pipe of demand straight to their door, freeing them to focus on mowing more lawns and earning more each week. We also handle the meta work around running their business: the accounting, the marketing, the payments. We also run job routing and clustering algorithms which help pros build much denser routes. This allows them to do more jobs each day and spend less time driving around town burning fuel. Essentially, we're democratizing technology that has previously only been available to the huge players in the space, and are giving it away to small lawn companies so they can better compete and grow their businesses. We're building the substrate for the American Dream. 

Tell us about Lawn love’s earliest days.

I spent the first six months building the first version of the software. After I was accepted into Y Combinator, I immediately hired an operations manager. Marketplaces are very painful, and local service marketplaces are even tougher because you have these chicken and egg problems replicated across every individual geo you operate in. You have to balance supply/demand liquidity across 90+ markets, and that's naturally challenging. Even though were were just in one market at the time, I knew there was no way I'd be able to go through YC as a solo founder, write all the code and build all the product, do all the marketing, and handle all the customer and pro support on my own. So I hired a friend who joined the team as employee #1 and we've been running really fast ever since.

You founded Lawn Love as a solo founder, which is pretty uncommon nowadays. What would you say have been the pros and cons of that move?

I don't have any religion about being a solo founder, but I do think it starts off as a disadvantage in that early-stage startups are just a tremendous amount of work. It turns out it's easier to do hard things when you have a team of smart people throwing themselves at a problem, rather than just one person. But that risk is totally front-loaded. Once you get to a scale where you can hire more talented people, you reach escape velocity and you just hire the people to do the things that you, as a single founder, can't. 

Once you get to a scale where you can hire more talented people, you reach escape velocity and you just hire the people to be the things that you, as a single founder, can't.

What was the biggest thing you learned by going through Y Combinator?

The biggest thing I learned is that there is no silver bullet. Even if you have an amazing network and incredible access to capital, you still have to do all the little things that make a company successful. Going through YC disabused me of the common fallacy that access trumped hustle. Access, intelligence, luck, and lots of other things matter; but raw unadulterated hustle is the biggest denominator in success or failure.

What led to your decision to found start Lawn love in San Diego rather than other big startup cities?

Part of the answer is inertia. I was already here!  

But, seriously, I started in San Diego and moved up to SF for YC and the month of fundraising. Afterwards, and many times since, I’ve asked myself if San Diego is the right place to build this company. The answer has been overwhelmingly yes.

San Diego has a much lower cost of living compared to markets like SF or NYC, so it's much more efficient to operate on that front. San Diego has a strong talent pool, and it's also fairly easy to get people to move here from elsewhere in the U.S. We've actually sourced a meaningful number of our team from markets like SF, NYC, and the Midwest. Turns out, it's not very hard to convince people to move to San Diego.

Turns out, it's not very hard to convince them to move out to San Diego.

While San Diego isn't known for being a hotbed of software startups, it actually has a rich technical history in areas like biotech, aerospace, and defense. We also have amazing team members in places like India and the Philippines, and have something of a hybrid local/distributed workforce.

What’s next for Lawn love?

Unsurprisingly, the single biggest challenge we face is the question of how we can balance hyper-growth with a consistent, high-quality experience for our customers and lawn pros. It's relatively easy to either deliver high-quality in a slow-growth environment, but that gets orders of magnitude harder at speed and at scale. Or challenge is balancing this without cannibalizing the quality of the experience.

As far as new initiatives go, we're focused on a ton of stuff. Better software for lawn pros, self-driving lawn mowers, and 1,000 other things.

Lastly What’s something that makes the Lawn Love team unique?

I believe that only the paranoid survive, and a big part of my job as CEO is to focus on existential risks. That can weigh on a person, but when I come in in the morning and feel the thrum and hum of the office, and look around and see the people that I'm working (both local and remote!), I immediately feel great. These guys are crushers. They are powerfully good at their jobs, and they execute in a way that is equal parts amazing and understated. While they aren't loud about their exploits and don't tend to blow too many horns, they are uniquely excellent in their roles. There's not much more I can say, other than that it's an honor and a privilege to work among them. 

Adam Griffith

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