Just Started – The Relentless Gardener: Matthew Adams

The grass really is greener for Matthew Adams, aka. The Relentless Gardener, whose lawn feed and grass seed yearly kits to provide tailored solutions for lawn management.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Name of founder(s): Matthew Adams
Age(s) of the founder(s): 35
Location: Manchester
Date launched: 12 May 2021
Number of employees: 1

What does your business do?

We sell lawn feed and grass seed online, in a brand-new way. The customer tells us how much area of lawn they want to cover and which product they need for the right time of year. We then calculate, label up, package and send out the correct weights depending on the product they need. All packaging is also degradable. To my understanding, no-one else sells the same products in this way. Worse, they only sell it in 5kg-20kg bags but the average lawn needs less than 3kg. The idea was also to sell yearly kits, so the customer receives the right products with a calendar telling them when and how to apply – again, weighed for the exact m2 of lawn for each customer. This will be the next initiative for the company.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I was keen to move out of my current role so was searching for new ideas for an ecommerce website. I’ve been interested in looking after my lawn since I created my own from scratch in 2017. However, there were many things I didn’t realise about lawn care and I felt it was difficult to get just the amount I needed for each application I needed to do. I was even willing to pay a bit more just so I didn’t have any wastage of fertiliser or lawn feed left in my shed, unused. Now I have tons of it!

How did you know there was a market for it?

I knew there was a market for the products themselves but was unsure if people wanted to buy them in this way. So, I built a simple prototype website (myself) that captured the m2 of each customer lawn for each product. I also allocated a couple of hundred pounds to Google Ads. Within a day, I was generating sales and after a couple of months, a few 5-star reviews came in telling me it was really easy to do. I’ve also had people calling to say that their friend recommended my website.

What were you doing before launching your business?

Running a digital marketing agency. I’ve worked with websites for 10 years and mainly worked for other clients.

Have you always dreamed of starting a business?

Yes! I’ve made several attempts at building a successful business. My first business was in greeting cards in 2009-2014. I made lots of mistakes with that business and so started freelancing for other companies. Since selling the greeting card website, I always wanted to get back into having my own website (rather than doing it for others)

How did you finance your business?

Using my monthly income via my agency business and a bounce back loan scheme. Other than that just savings. The investment was minimal because I only really needed products. I’m running it from my bedroom and garden so there’s no need for a premises right now.

Explain your business model and how you make money.

Everything is online. The customer purchases via our website and we have a strict process for the printing, packaging, weighing, checking, labelling and shipping. I take the orders to the depot every day because it’s the cheapest option. We use next day delivery and aim to have all orders there within 1-3 working days of receipt

What are the main challenges you have faced? And how did you overcome them?

Running out of stock, working outside and stock getting wet. I built a shelter to work under and bought white buckets with lids so we could store the stock better and with less chance of moisture getting to it – worked a treat. We now review stock levels once a week and place any orders way before we run out. We also use sales by product reports to predict based on what we’ve already sold. Although predictions are very difficult in the first year of business. Some products can only be packaged and sold under certification, so it sort of messes up the concept for some products. We will look at certifications over the coming years.

What has your experience been of starting a business during a pandemic?

I don’t feel the pandemic has affected this business because it’s all online. It was also founded after the pandemic and it seems more people have gotten into gardening since the outbreak.

Describe your first breakthrough.

I think the first breakthrough will be a new product just about to launch – 100% Organic Autumn Lawn Feed. There’s nothing else like it on the market.

How has Brexit impacted your business? Do you think it will in the future?

It seems Brexit has created much longer lead times of stock, meaning if we don’t keep a close eye on the levels we could run out during prime season. But much of our stock is manufactured in the UK. That helps, I think.

What advice would you give to other aspiring business owners?

Find a way to sell something that’s different to how it’s sold right now and that you can add value as a middle person. Then, prototype the idea. In my first business I spent far too much on technicalities of the setup and not enough on promotion and marketing. With this business I was selling products before I even invested any money into stock etc. Of course, I had planned out which products and costed everything but that was also done as minimally as possible.

What is one resolution you have for your business this year?

Take a salary that matches or comes close to what I get from the agency business.

How do you see your business developing in the next three years?

I think it will blow up! We have budget for ad spend which is already giving us a great ROI after just two months. We’ll allocate more to social media ads and be intensely growing the Organic Google rankings over the next couple of years. We also have a mailing list, which in our first two months generated nearly 500 subscribers.

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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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