A new tech startup aims to open up gardening to a new generation of people after raising £6.5 million led by Index Ventures.
Sproutl’s curated online marketplace includes gardening products and plants from the country’s leading independent garden centres, nurseries and shops.
The platform also offers inspiration and advice, making gardening accessible to everyone.
The seeds for Sproutl were sown back in 2016 when former VP Trading and Strategy, Marketing at Farfetch, Anni Noel-Johnson, wanted to plant her small London garden. Working full time, she looked for an online option but found that they typically catered for an informed, mature audience and had huge variations in availability and delivery lead times.
After leaving Farfetch, over a coffee with former colleague Andy Done – previously been Director of Data Engineering at Farfetch and headed up data analytics at King, makers of the hit game Candy Crush – Sproutl was launched.
Hollie Newton, who swapped from being an award-winning creative director to become a bestselling gardening author, was brought on board to be the chief creative officer.
Sproutl manages not only logistics, packaging sourcing, and delivery but also online marketing and customer services, allowing local garden centres, shops and nurseries to develop their online presence and reach new national audiences.
Horticultural launch partners include Rosebourne, Polhill and Millbrook garden centres, as well as specialist nurseries such as Middleton and indoor plant specialist Bellr. Peat-free pioneers Fertile Fibre and living wall specialist Horticus have also come on board.
“We built Sproutl to invite a new audience to take up gardening and give them the world-class eCommerce experience that digital natives expect,” said Noel-Johnson and Done.
“Our mission is to demystify growing plants and remove the barriers to getting started.”
Newton added: “You don’t need a ten-acre plot in the countryside to start gardening. To be honest, you don’t even need a garden.
“A terrace, a balcony, a small sunny windowsill – the modern garden is a brilliant place and one that thousands of people rediscovered in lockdown. Who cares if you’ve never picked up a trowel before? This is gardening made easy.
“The best plants and products, sitting alongside advice, inspiration, easy-to-shop edits, and high-profile limited-edition collections. It’s gardening for a new generation.”
The funding round was joined by Ada Ventures and C-Suite angel investors from leading global tech companies, including Farfetch, Airbnb, Made.com and Slack.
Danny Rimer, Partner at Index Ventures, commented: “The notion of who is a gardener, and what it means to be a grower, has been transformed in the past few years, with a whole new generation of young people breaking the long-held stereotypes.
“More than anyone we’ve met, Anni and Andy have understood this cultural change and built Sproutl, a gardening destination that’s like no other.”
Check Warner, Partner at Ada Ventures, commented, “At Ada, we are looking to invest in dynamic founders with bold ideas. The Sproutl team is reinventing and reshaping the online gardening landscape in the UK, making gardening more accessible and inclusive.
“The depth of experience of the team and their passion for celebrating independent garden retailers made us really excited to partner with them on this ambitious mission.”