Our solution's stage of development:Research
Plantmatch, LLC, is a social venture to bring more plants into urbanites’ lives. With a mobile application, digital marketplace and companion smart stick, plant lovers can learn what a plant is and then where to adopt, swap or buy it locally – both from neighbors and small businesses.
Today's urbanites are challenged to have consistent and meaningful relationships with plants. Cities have low plant density and plant knowledge among urbanites is also limited. Compared to ruralists, urbanites struggle to know what a plant is, how to care for it, and where to find one. They also move more often, and upon arriving in a city, may not know where to find their first few plants or who to ask for plant-sitting when away. Residents of cities worldwide want plants though -- they add protection against increasingly polluted air in our homes, workplaces and schools.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
In an informal survey (57 respondents in Beijing), 93% said they would like to adopt a plant via a peer-to-peer mobile application. 90% said they would like to swap a plant, and 50% said they would like to sell a plant. Research on biophilic experience shows that interactions with plants have a positive impact, from reducing stress and anxiety, to improving workplace productivity. With our tech solution, plant lovers can easily learn what a plant is and then where to adopt, swap or buy it locally -– quickly increasing the plant density in their lives.
Our target outcomes:
We create value for consumers by helping them learn what a plant is and where they can get one. For plant owners who travel frequently or relocate, we provide an easy way to find plant sitters or permanent new homes for plants.
For employers, Plantmatch provides a sustainable way to give employees a healthy and productive workplace environment, via the “Healthy Workplace” plant subscription program.
For mid-size and small businesses in the floriculture industry, we provide an additional means to reach new customers by listing their plants on our app or becoming suppliers for the plant subscription programs.
How we will measure our progress:
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
Some visual recognition systems are available for trees and for flowers, but not yet for tropical plants (e.g., houseplants) and those common for urban agriculture (vegetables, herbs). These are the plants we tend to interact with and can attach to psychologically. None of the available plant recognition systems are currently paired with a marketplace platform in the same application -- our pairing will be unique and actionable. Once a plant is identified, you can immediately learn where you can get one.
Why our solution is human-centered:
Urbanites in underserved communities may not have access to transportation to go to shops to buy plants or to carry larger plants back to an apartment. By identifying plants available within a 50-meter range, the buyers/adopters are more likely to go and meet the seller in-person. This brief but significant interaction affirms the significance of any single plant, and the new owner is more likely to bond to it. If sold by any individual, the seller is happy to get a little extra cash, and the buyer is happy to know the plant has already been well cared for.
How people will access our solution:
The plant marketplace will be available as a download from app stores either for free during our pilot and growth periods, and then for just $.99. Add-on functionality of visual recognition will be available for $1.99. The companion smart sticks are not required but will be available as sets of 10 for $20. Plant sellers will want to use the smart sticks to enable geolocation of available plants.
Technology-Readiness Level:0 (Concept)
How we will sustain our team financially:
Currently the project is self-funded by the Founder. We are applying to accelerator and incubator programs in the US and China to seek seed funding and to gain mentorship and coaching. Participating in an accelerator program would ensure our development of a minimum viable product to launch to consumers in Spring 2018. Upon completing an accelerator, we would also seek to do a U.S. Kickstarter campaign for our "Smart Sticks" to raise further funds and get the sticks into wider usage.
The factors limiting our success:
We are a very early-stage team and are still forming our plan. As a team based in multiple time zones (U.S., Sudan, China) our current challenge is establishing an operational rhythm by phone calls and virtual collaboration tools. We formed while all having full-time jobs or being full-time students. Ruth (Founder), however, recently left full-time work to focus primarily on this start-up.
How long we have been working on our solution:1 year
How long it will take to develop a pilot:6-12 months
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:12-18 months
Our expected annual budget:
How much of our budget we've secured to date:
Our promotional materials:
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
Our long-term goal is to become a profitable "B Corp" (Benefit Corporation) registered in both the U.S. and China. The steps to become a B Corp are quite rigorous and require visibility of how we use funds and other resources throughout our company's growth phases. We are seeking to hash out as many tough questions as we can from our earliest stage and to get input on our business model and strategies so we create products that can be used by urban consumers, businesses and schools for measurable impact to their food supply, indoor air quality, morale and productivity.
Our current partners:
We have identified and reached out to some universities that have completed relevant research but have not yet received any direct support for collaboration or partnerships. Microsoft Asia Research (in Beijing) is interested in reviewing our visual recognition product once we are further along in its design.
- Ruth Becke Founder, Plantmatch, LLC