As momentum grows among innovators in the home/indoor gardening space, the focus has been on all-in-one home-grow kits. Such companies as NutriTower, Sprouts IO and Aerogarden are taking an approach in which their product’s value proposition is based on simplicity. The common formula of these visionaries includes hydroponic, tech-infused pot, built-in LED lights, seeds, and water. The goal is a home gardening solution without getting and dirt under your fingernails.
Vermont-based Seedsheet seems to believe that gardening, without touching the soil, takes the soul out of the experience. The company’s kit includes a weed-blocking fabric with pockets of non-GMO seeds (from High Mowing Seed Company) embedded in a growing medium, a cloth bag which acts as the planter, and stakes to hold the sheet in place. The process is simple enough to entice even the laziest gardeners, yet just tactile enough to appeal to traditionalists.
Featured on the April 7 episode of Shark Tank, Seedsheet grew out of a successful Kickstarter campaign which led to the product being available at Home Depot. The concept is the brainchild of Vermont’s Cam MacKugler, an architect with a passion for sustainable design. According to a company press release, the idea took root when he was housesitting for a co-worker and was allowed to tinker in the garden.
“I was spending my days in AutoCAD designing buildings, and one evening while harvesting dinner I noticed the spacing of the garden, the relationships between plants, and I saw a blueprint. I wondered why we weren’t approaching agriculture with the same precision as architecture,” MacKluger says.
“Food transparency and availability are critical issues in the country, and the world, right now. People want to know the story behind their food, whether pesticides and herbicides were used on the plants, and want to feel confident that they’re feeding themselves and their family safe and healthy food. Our goal is to make it ridiculously easy to grow your own, so you know exactly where your food comes from.”
With the able assistance of $500,000 from the “Queen of QVC,” Lori Greiner, MacKugler’s idea grew in new directions. As demonstrated in his first appearance on QVC, not only did Seedsheet provide its original sheet, it branched out to offer a fully equipped kit that included a seedsheet and cloth growing bag. Going beyond herbs and veggies, the company now has packages for those wanting to add flowers to their home or garden. Just add soil, and you are good to go.
Seedsheet’s marketing approach differs from competitors in the home-grow space as the product is sold based on the vision of what consumers can do with the end results of their labor. Kits are cleverly designed with eye-catching packaging for creating herbs, salads, and Caprese (although cheese is not included). Each kit sold for $24.96 on QVC in early April.
The indoor gardening/desk gardening/home grow space is simultaneously moving in many directions. While Seedsheet’s concept is novel, the idea is more about packaging than a market disruptor. The internet is loaded with companies such as Bloomin’ who make “seed sheets” that can be put in a planter or a readily available cloth bag similar to the one with Seedsheet. In fact, inexperienced home gardeners can plant herbs or microgreens in a folded-over paper towel and achieve the same results as Seedsheet.
The vast range of startups hoping to dominate this interesting opportunity hopes to take advantage of millennials who want a food experience that focuses on healthy eating and convenience. The million-dollar (or more) question is whether the young post-digital, short-attention-span literati want to make the effort—as slight as it is—to tend to their techy gardens on a regular basis. What we will learn over the next year or so is whether this is a breakthrough idea or a solution in search of a market.