Gardening startups like Neverland want to make every day Earth Day for the home gardener – TechCrunch

by Jeremy

Vera Kutsenko and Hayley Leibson have incredible tech pedigrees, but their latest venture involves as much digging in the 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. Everyone needed someone (or something) to talk to.

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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.

That surge in business and the co-founders’ passion for home plants led to the launch of Neverland, they said.

Using customer data, Neverland prompts users 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.

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