- October 14, 2014

These Tech Stars Are Putting Austin’s Lawn Work On Autopilot

Let’s face it: Nobody actually likes doing yard work. Not you, not your kids, not anybody — especially in Texas and particularly during the sweltering summers we get down here. Wouldn’t it be nice to just visit a website, click a few buttons, and put your yard on autopilot?

That’s exactly what the new company LawnStarter is offering to Austinites: Subscription-based lawn care. While they’ve only been in business just over a year, this company is growing fast and it’s easy to see why.

LawnStarter co-founder Steven Corcoran.

LawnStarter co-founder Steven Corcoran.

“Getting reliable lawn care can be a frustrating experience for any customer, so we make it much easier,” Steven Corcoran, co-founder of LawnStarter, told Austin.com. “You can make a correlation between the current state of lawn care and how people used to hire taxis before apps came out. We’ve made it so you can order and manage lawn care services on your Internet-connected device and you’re guaranteed to get the best service providers in the area.”

It’s not just mowing, either: LawnStarter’s contractors will handle everything from fertilizing, edging, trimming, and even mosquito management. “If it happens in your lawn, more than likely, we can take care of it,” Corcoran said.

He was quick to point out that LawnStarter does not engage in lead-generation services, like many similar companies do, because applying that business model to direct services often leads to very negative customer experiences. “We personally vet all our contractors,” Corcoran explained. “We make sure they’ve got reliable equipment, they’re insured, and that their prior customers are happy with their work.”

That’s why LawnStarter’s ratings system is key: If a few bad reviews pile up, that contractor is put on hold. It’s just another way of guaranteeing quality service. “We manage the entire experience for the customer,” Corcoran said. “Contractors know they’re going to get kicked off the service if they don’t do a good job.”

The company started as just two business guys in Washington, D.C. with virtually no programming skills. But they did have a toehold on the lawn care industry because Corcoran, who seems to have entrepreneurship in his bones, provided lawn care services while he was in high school. They soon realized that lawn care is a $71 billion behemoth that’s highly fragmented, so they set about making a scalable business model that could bring thousands of disperate services providers together in one pool.

That may be why they caught the attention of Techstars Austin, one of the nation’s premiere startup incubators. And while they still offer lawn care services in the nation’s capital, Corcoran said that Austin is their ideal testing ground ahead of a much wider rollout because the growing season is longer here than in D.C.

“We’re able to get people who really understand technology in Austin, and we have a long season,” he explained. “That lets us do a lot of tests here, even though the bulk of our contractors and demand is currently in Washington.”

Featured photo: Flickr user aussiegall, creative commons licensed.