So, what does Gartenzwerg do?
The three main reasons why people don’t grow their own food is lack of space, lack of time and lack of knowledge. Yet, many people love to eat fresh food but they fail terribly to even just keep their basil plant alive.
Gartenzwerg which is the German word for “garden gnome”, is the little garden helper who makes it possible to grow small fruit, vegetable and herbs anytime, anywhere from your home on the push of a button.
What’s behind the business idea?
We develop smart and beautifully designed personal indoor gardens. As an IoT solution, the garden controls water level, Ph Level, temperature, humidity and light intensity and adjusts itself according to the environment and the plants you are growing. In case the plants need anything, Gartenzwerg communicates with you over an app to let you know exactly what to do. We want to build a fun and engaging experience, so people will wonder why they didn’t grow they own food before. Gartenzwerg is the one communicating with you and you receive notifications like “Hey, I’m thirsty give me some water” or “I’m grown up now, it’s cropping time”.
Our goal is to make cities and people more self-sufficient and to bring them the experience of “grow your own” to their homes. There is nothing quite like the sensation you feel when you try food you have grown yourself the first time.
Was it hard becoming a business owner?
The decision wasn’t hard, I always wanted to have my own business. I prepared my whole life for it, to be ready when I would know what I was going to do. It was important for me to have a solution that I felt could have a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment.
I guess the transition can be hard. From the first time I had the idea in China and partnered with my co-founder Andre, it took another year until we both could go fulltime. For over 8 months, we both worked fulltime as freelancers and in the evenings and weekends we worked on Gartenzwerg. That of course was hard, but if you know for what you do it for and you have the vision in front of you, you find ways and solutions to make it happen. It all depends on how much you want it.
How did you recruit your employees?
A mix really. We hired our fulltime engineer through our own job posting on Indeed (he is great by the way). Then we have our senior embedded systems engineer, who works with us on a part-time/ consultant basis. Andre literally head-hunted him through LinkedIn. For us it is not so important that people know everything, but that they get it what we want to achieve. They must share our passion and be able to find solutions and alternatives to everchanging challenges and environments.
That skill is crucial in a start-up.
Was there a breakthrough moment?
Well we are not trading yet. 2018 is going to be huge for us as we are planning to launch Gartenzwerg towards the end of the year. We are now at a point where people see that we don’t just talk but also do the walk. So it does make things easier, but my personal breakthrough will be when I see the first Gartenzwerg in someone’s home and a happy home-grower.
How is the company doing?
The year has kicked-off great. Developing a physical tech-product is tough because you have so much more upfront development time and costs. But our work from the last year now starts to show its results: We are overfunding on Seedrs, are in the process of building 30 beta units, have a great response from people who want to have a Gartenzwerg and test it and we are growing our team.
So no time to relax, but to give it all to keep the momentum and make 2018 a success!
Do you have any regrets?
No regrets. My life motto is take the opportunity when you see it. To me there is nothing worse than the question of “what if I would have…”. Because that would mean I did want to do it, but maybe I was just too lazy to go through the hassle or afraid of not being able to do it. The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t work out, but at least you know you have tried it and gave it your all. More than often you find surprising yourself of what you are capable off.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
To see the opportunity where others see the limit.
What is your definition of a positive customer experience?
A solution that solves complex needs with simplicity.
You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?
Hiring a plants specialist and app developer, build 30 units for beta testing, run a Kickstarter campaign and get the product ready for mass production.
If you could help a business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?
Choose wisely from the advice you get. You get a lot of it, take your time and validate if it is good advice that can actually bring you forward or not.
Finally, Sabrina what is your favourite biscuit?!
Toughest question of all. Ha! I don’t have a favourite. The world of biscuits is simply too great to limit myself on only one. However, I do know what I don’t like and on the very top are those biscuits that have a soft cake, chocolate and orange jelly filling. The orange-chocolate combo doesn’t really excite my taste buds.