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How Willow is helping Aussies kill less plants with their new, innovative solution

Dec 15, 2021

James Shamim and Jared Carlin, co-founders behind Willow, have been working on a solution to help aspiring place parents in keeping their plants alive. “We’ve always loved plants, but admittingly had no idea how to actually care for them.” They shared. “All attempts at building an urban jungle within our homes were slowly but surely thwarted by sad dead plants. We tried the existing solutions out there to no avail.”

“We talked to family, friends, Spacecubed members, and strangers, and the problem resonated with all. It was at this point; we took it upon ourselves to develop something that could actually help the aspiring plant parent keep plants alive.“

As part of the BetterLabs team, James and Jared have been able to tap into unmatched support, sharing that having a framework and network available to validate their assumptions has been invaluable. “We were able to work with Horticulturists to really understand plants and built our own database and plant health algorithm. We built an app, rebuilt an app, used off-the-shelf hardware to develop a prototype and tested it in a wide range of situations, as well as designed from scratch our own tech. The result: Willow.“

With plant sensors to measure your plants soil moisture, light intensity, ambient temperature and humidity, users will get an alert when an action is required to keep your plant happy, so there’s no more guesswork! It’s plant care, made easy.

“2020 has truly been a great time to be in the houseplant market.” They shared when asked about the current challenges and opportunities in building Willow from the ground up. “Globally there has been a boom in the sale of plants and associated products and this is only expected to continue to grow. Seven in 10 millennials consider themselves ‘plant parents’, with just under half of those planning to add to their collection.” 

“Fun fact, 18 million Australians purchased a plant last year, which is amazing. Unfortunately, in the same period, us Aussies managed to kill an estimated 72 million plants. And that’s why we’re here.” 

“However, on the flip side, for us the major challenge is in the supply of sensors and navigating the ever-changing COVID-19 interrupted supply chain. Anyone integrating electronics into their product will tell you that the current semiconductor supply shortage is a major challenge for them. Fortunately, we identified this in our initial feasibility plan and have chosen parts that both serve our needs and are readily available.” 

But all great founders know that it takes a village to grow a successful business, and that’s where the Spacecubed community has come in. “Being part of the community has been a massive help to us.” The team began. “We’ve been able to find user testers who’ve given us amazing feedback with the prototyping of our sensors and app. Even getting general feedback, either over happy hour drinks on Wednesday and Friday or having a chat at the coffee machine. It’s been amazing to see the positivity from everyone in the Spacecubed community. “

Now, the duo are at the point where they’re ready to commercialise Willow, and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to prepare for the first large manufacturing order. “Our Kickstarter is currently live, and we are close to achieving our funding goal, so if you are a serial plant killer, or if you just want a little more help to keep your plants thriving, you can back us there. We’d love to keep the momentum going so any social media posts, shares, texts and/or emails to family and friends would also be incredibly helpful. Outside of that, feedback on the app, or Willow is always appreciated!” 

And of course, if anyone is keen to chat about plants, internet of things, hardware or BetterLabs, reach out to your Community Coordinator today for an introduction to co-founders, James and Jared.

To find out more about the Spacecubed community, and our incredible range of businesses who call our spaces home, speak to our team today. We have a range of membership options suitable for startups, through to corporates. And the best part? Spacecubed members will get exclusive access to applications for our 2022 Plus Eight Accelerator Program, giving you the chance to scale your business rapidly. Get started here!