Hobnobbing with Mike Wong from fastgardener

posted by 5 years ago in Hobnobbing
Hobnobbing with Mike Wong from fastgardener

So, what do fastgardener do?

fastgardener is a web and mobile app that allows users to book a professional gardener from our national network of vetted gardeners.

People who want their garden maintained but don’t have the time or inclination to do so can use fastgardener to book an appointment.

When a booking is made, gardeners in the local area are alerted through our app, and they can accept the booking if they’re available.

What’s behind the business idea?

There’s a lot of friction in the search and selection process; during peak season gardeners are at full capacity, and customers spend a lot of time searching for an available gardener. Gardeners, in turn, spend a lot of time fielding enquiries.

By centralising the consumers and gardeners onto our platform, it’s easy for the two parties to be matched based on location, date and availability.

Essentially we use technology to internalise the friction in the search and selection process in booking a garden service professional.

Was it hard becoming a business owner?

Being in business is hard, and starting up is even harder.

Having an opportunity to become part of a start-up business is an adventure; there’s a lot of hard work and uncertainty that goes with it, but in equal measures, there’s a lot of excitement and satisfaction too.

How did you recruit your employees?

Recruiting good garden service professionals is the life blood of our business, and I’m sure every business faces the same challenge; recruiting the very best.

My role is to recruit gardeners and manage the relationships with them. Without these ongoing relationships and feedback it’s hard to gauge the true value and benefits in what we’re offering them.

Right now we check a number of sources and databases to vet prospective gardeners in any new area we’re expanding to, followed by an outbound sales programme.

As the company and brand matures, it’ll become easier to demonstrate the value and benefits we provide gardeners and will therefore need to focus more on managing the inbound applications.

Was there a breakthrough moment?

The success of the crowdfunding campaign has a real boost and breakthrough.

For me, however, I think the long term success with fastgardener will come from achieving many, many small goals over a long period of time rather than a single breakthrough moment.

How is the company doing?

Super. This year we’ve grown our gardener network and coverage significantly. In the financial year (to July) we’ve grown turnover by 9x compared to last year.

We’re over 130% of our funding target, with over 120 backers onboard with our business and concept. Completing this crowdfunding campaign will mark the next stage of fastgardeners growth and development.

Do you have any regrets?

They say you shouldn’t have regrets – but it’s hard not to when you’ve made mistakes!

I think the regret I have in this business is that there’s been times when I’ve become so focused (and stressed) with the work I’m doing and operating the business that I’ve completely forgotten to enjoy myself.

If so how did you over come them?

It’s no biggie. There’s plenty more work for me to do, and plenty of time for me to enjoy it.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

We face competition on a number of fronts, some direct competitors, others indirect.

To compete with our direct competitors we’ve focused on recruiting and building relationships with the best service providers in each area we’ve expanded to. Our network is now over 100 gardeners strong and we’ve a larger geographical coverage and density of service providers.

What is your definition of a positive customer experience?

In any business, there’s rarely a ‘perfect’ customer experience, but a positive one for us is characterised by a quick & easy booking process, good communication from the gardener and satisfaction with the quality of the work done.

I suppose true definition of a positive customer experience is a repeat booking.

You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?

We’ve been overwhelmed by the response from our investors and the early backing and support they’ve shown us.

The funds we’re raising has two core uses; to improve our customer experience with platform and technology upgrades, and to market our brand.

If you could help a business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?

There’s a lot of business advice written out there in books and on the internet, but is something that’s been told to me by someone else;

Treat an opportunity as a liability. If you’re unprepared to take act on it, it’s no longer an opportunity – it’s a loss.

Finally, Mike what is your favourite biscuit?!

It’s got to be a Rich Tea – 100%.