Q&A With Mattias Lepp - Founder and CEO of Click & Grow
Click and Grow is turning 8 next week!
Yep, almost a decade of home gardens and farms around the world, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate with you all. While next week is going to be full of surprises (a new plant launch for starters!), we wanted to take this time to have a quick Q & A with our Founder and CEO Mattias Lepp about the defining moments of Click and Grow.
Q: It is going to be Click and Grow’s 8th birthday next week! What was going through your mind when you first launched Click and Grow on Kickstarter for funding? Do you remember that moment?
Mattias Lepp: The first campaign was in 2013, it was actually 4 years after I started the company, but I remember exactly the moment we launched. If I’m correct, we collected more than $20,000 in the first hour, and no one actually believed that was possible at the time. We made bets in the office and people we're hoping to get $10,000 in the first week.
We reached our goal within 24hrs and I remember the first two hours everyone was screaming and cheering every time somebody backed us. It was kind of surreal, we didn’t believe what was going on!
Kickstarter funding for the first campaign. 10,477 backers!!
Q: In many ways Click and Grow is known for its sleek design, what made you choose this design for the Smart Garden?
ML: The first Smart Garden was designed in Denmark, and the second one was designed in Finland. The first design idea came from myself, I built the prototype out of cardboard.
First prototype of the Smart Herb Garden.
Obviously, like for many other companies at that time, Apple was our design inspiration. We sure had some struggles back in the day - especially with the light for the Smart Herb Garden. It was almost like this Alien object that we were trying to force somewhere because it was absolutely crucial to the technology. We even seriously discussed a floating or a levitating light [laughs]. When it finally got designed in Denmark and we saw the initial designs, we were satisfied with how it turned out. The alien had found its place.
Q: What have been the biggest lessons or challenges that you faced during the 8 years of Click and Grow?
ML: So many different lessons, nothing goes as expected [laughs]. Actually, the biggest lesson has been to truly understand our customers and how they use our products. What problems do our products solve for Click & Growers? We had to listen and understand more of what our community thinks, how they grow, how they spend their time at home, and what they value in produce.
Q: What are the moments or accomplishments that you know you’ll remember forever?
ML: Our Kickstarter launches, getting accepted to the Y Combinator, launching farms, understanding that our technology actually is far more superior to alternatives on the market in terms of growing capacity, cost and sustainability. There have been so many moments that have made me proud and happy. The biggest moments of accomplishments are yet to come though! We've just started a huge project that I can't talk about just yet, but this is definitely one of the most exciting things to ever happen to us!
A photo from the Y Combinator. We got accepted!
One of the things I also always said that we'll truly be accomplished once we'll see knock-off's of our product emerge on the market. That happened in the first few weeks!
This smartpot knock-off appeared on Alibaba.com a few weeks after the launch of our first product.
Q: With home garden’s gaining popularity, what is something that you think helps Click & Grow stand out amongst competitors?
ML: I truly believe It’s our mission, we really believe that one day food can be grown hyper-locally and without any additional cost, maybe even for free. At the moment, this is the main reason why we're in business. We believe that the most essential food can be free, and with so many mission driven people at Click and Grow I truly believe we can achieve a break-through in food production with our technology.
Our technology is easier to use and maintain, yet produced more yield while using less energy and water than many competing technologies on the market. Many people don't know this, but we’re actually moving towards our goal of building large, self-sustainable farms to locations where they are needed the most thanks to the funding from the indoor gardens and food growing systems that we sell today.
Q: Any advice that you have to any budding entrepreneurs?
ML: The most important thing is to survive and do whatever it takes. What we have seen with Click and Grow is that the first 5 years you don’t see much of anything, in regards to profit, and the next 2-3 years you really start to grow within that field, so to survive that period is extremely important. You just have to survive the first 5 years, it can be cruel, but until those 5 years are up you can’t really tell if your product is right or what to really change.
Q: It has to be asked, what is your favorite plant to grow using the Smart Garden?
ML: Rosemary for sure!
Q: Last question, where do you see Click and Grow being in the next 8 years?
ML: I think very soon we will be seen as one of the leading urban farming companies, and especially with our big farms. We want to bring our vision to life: the freshest nutrient-dense foods should be free for everyone on this plant. Especially for those living in poverty stricken areas, who often need fresh food the most. I believe that within the next 8 years we will figure it out and we will accomplish.
To follow along with all of the birthday celebrations next week, make sure to attend our Facebook event, and invite your friends to take part of the Click and Grow celebration!