This week, JAB Ventures, an investment firm with stakes in consumers brands such as Keurig Dr. Pepper, Peet’s coffee, Pret A Manger, and others in the food and beverage space, announced a $5 million investment in Gardyn, bringing the company’s capital raise this year to $15 million.
With the expanding global focus on healthy eating, climate change, and sustainable resources, companies such as Gardyn, which entered the market in 2020, are hoping to level the playing field in the home gardening space. The goal for players looking to make successful inroads into this consumer space is by offering scalable products with appeal to black and green thumbs alike. Those ahead of the pack have harnessed and simplified technologies, such as AI, to provide choice and convenience, resulting in ongoing yields of chemical-free fruits and vegetables.
“Gardyn, built on remarkable technology and a radically novel customer experience, is shaping the future of food at home,” said Joachim Creus, Senior Partner at JAB, in a company press release. “Gardyn is the clear leader in the fast-growing segment of homegrown food, as evidenced by the brand’s strong growth and high adoption and retention rates, even beyond COVID. JAB Ventures is proud to support Gardyn’s development and bring to market credible alternatives to the industrial paradigm of the past, in a way that is better for the planet, better for health, and brings natural art to your home.”
In a phone interview with The Spoon, FX Rouxel, founder and CEO of Gardyn, describes his company’s approach to the home produce-growing world as “hybrid-ponics,” which takes advantage of the tried-and-tested hydroponics approach to gardening with an overlay of Artificial Intelligence. The result for Gardyn is a vertical tower that takes up a small space making it suitable for even small spaces in apartments. Even though it offers a small footprint, Rouxel explains Gardyn offers a large yield. That abundance is governed by technology that provides a continuous supply of healthy greens, vegetables, fruits, and even flowers. The constant supply is critical as fresh produce—especially plants grown without pesticides– is highly perishable.
“Our vision is simple,” Rouxel says. “We want to control such elements as time, pest problems, germinating seeds, and efficiently using such resources as energy and water while creating a beautiful piece of natural gardening.”
Elements such as water and light are controlled using AI and a “Kelby” technology, which is billed as a gardening assistant. Kelby keeps an eye on the individual seed containers called yPods to ensure they are experiencing optimal growing conditions. At this point, Gardyn has 750 seed varieties.
Rouxel says that the JAB investment will partially support future growth in such areas as AI. As indoor home gardeners evolve from using company-supplied yPod seed packets to experimenting with their own seed choices, tweaks to the AI will be needed to recognize these independent plantings and determine the best growing conditions. The financing also will be used to continue to grow the Gardyn community which is an essential part of the company’s popularity. The community is a vital source for individual Gardyn-ers to share growing tips and healthy recipes, particularly for those more exotics greens and veggies.
Gardyn is one of a growing cohort of companies in the indoor gardening segment. Other players include AeroGarden (owned by Scotts Miracle-Gro), The Smart Garden, Rise Garden, Lettuce Grow The Farmstand, Tower Garden FLEX, and other niche products. While indoor gardening isn’t likely to be a zero-sum game, a handful will survive based on price, ease of use, scalability (in both add-ons and seed varieties), and channel partners in the next few years.