High-tech ‘Uber for lawn care’ comes to Madison

Lawn Love, a tech startup that provides on-demand lawn-care services, launched in Madison during the first week of May.

Serial entrepreneur Jeremy Yamaguchi wants to upend the traditional lawn-care industry by making things easier for lawn care professionals and customers.

His solution — Lawn Love — was born in 2014 from his own frustrations finding high-quality lawn-care service for his property in San Diego.

“Traditionally, homeowners have to wait for a lawn-care provider to physically come to their property, offer a quote, and then schedule a service,” notes Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love. “It can take weeks to get the job done after the initial contact is made.

“I realized that outsourcing lawn care was a serious hassle for homeowners, and that was because service providers had zero technology to better their operations. So, I decided to build something that makes the entire experience more streamlined for both customers and lawn-care professionals.”

Jeremy Yamaguchi

Yamaguchi’s San Diego-based tech startup arrived in Greater Madison earlier this month having already partnered with more than 5,000 independent lawn-care businesses operating in 120 cities across 43 states. Lawn Love already offers service in the Greater Milwaukee area, including Wauwatosa, West Allis, Brookfield, Shorewood, Greenfield, New Berlin, Oak Creek, Waukesha, Bayside, Whitefish Bay, Elm Grove, and Franklin.

This isn’t Yamaguchi’s first go-round on the startup circuit. He says he’s been an entrepreneur for as long as he can remember.

“When I was nine, I used to go to flea markets with $1, buy something small, and then barter it up for progressively more valuable things,” Yamaguchi recalls. “I remember one Sunday I started with a buck and after 20-ish trades walked out with an electric guitar.”

Yamaguchi admits to never having a “real” job. He finished high school early at 16 and started a small business building websites for friends. He quickly grew that into a full-scale digital agency over the next four years, doing everything from mobile and web development to design, branding, marketing, and more.

“That business was going well, but I was always looking for something more scalable,” says Yamaguchi. “In 2009, I saw an opportunity in the home-services space and started Golden Shine, which was an on-demand marketplace for in-home services like housekeeping, window washing, and carpet cleaning. Three years later, I sold that company to a private equity search fund and started Lawn Love a week later.”

Lawn Love was launched through the Y-Combinator Summer 2014 Batch. It raised funding from notable investors such as Joe Montana, Alexis Ohanian, Barbara Corcoran, Bullpen Capital, and more, and to date the 120-employee company has raised $1.9 million in venture capital.

So long, low-tech

The traditional lawn-care industry is low tech and outdated, explains Yamaguchi, and the majority of lawn-care pros are still hanging door hangers and planning their routes on a whiteboard. “The average lawn-care company in the U.S. has only two employees and lacks the resources to modernize their business models,” says Yamaguchi.

“I saw an opportunity to build a high-tech solution that would improve the customer experience while helping the pros operate 10 times more efficiently. We are trying to democratize software for these small businesses so that they can compete with dominating lawn-care corporations such as TruGreen and BrightView.”

For lawn-care professionals, Lawn Love offers scheduling, job routing, payment, and customer acquisition management solutions that improve their operations, allowing them to better compete and thrive against the huge legacy players in the space.

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For customers, Lawn Love uses satellite-mapping technology to generate instant online quotes, and customers can schedule their services, pay by credit card, and leave reviews all within the online platform. Homeowners can visit lawnlove.com to get a quote for services such as lawn mowing, weeding, aeration, gutter cleaning, and more.

Providers can apply to work with Lawn Love at lawnlove.com/apply. Providers must have at least one year of professional lawn care experience — the average Lawn Love Provider has 10 years — own all their own equipment, and pass a lawn care skill test. Lawn Love also has an internal rating system that tracks pro performance over time, so customers can be confident that they are getting a lawn pro who will do amazing work both today and in the months and years to come, says Yamaguchi.

So far, Lawn Love has already partnered with more than 20 independent providers in the Madison area, such as Badger Lawn Professionals, SCC Maintenance, and MS Lawn Care.

“Lawn Love is great for growing a small business and expanding it to something larger,” says Albert Milam, a Lawn Love provider.

Echoing those sentiments is another Lawn Love provider, Wayne Goodell. “I was looking for ways to find extra customers online when I stumbled across Lawn Love. It’s a great way to receive jobs and updates.”

According to Yamaguchi, Lawn Love has seen lawn-care professionals double the number of customers they service each week shortly after signing up. For its part, Lawn Love takes a small percentage of the job fee, typically 5–10 percent, to cover customer acquisition costs, software development, customer support, credit card processing, and back-office services for its lawn professionals.

“Madison is a relatively big market for us,” says Yamaguchi. “While the lawn-care season here is shorter than some of our more Southern markets, there is definitely still a significant demand for lawn-care services.”

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