Sproutl raises USD9m in funding round led by Index ventures

Sproutl, a UK gardening tech start-up that aims to open up gardening to a whole new generation of gardeners and get everyone to plant something, has today launched a curated online marketplace that celebrates the best brands and businesses in the gardening industry, having raised USD9 million in a seed funding round led by Index Ventures with participation from Ada Ventures.

Sproutl allows consumers from across the UK can access some of the best gardening products and plants from the country’s leading independent garden centres, nurseries and shops in an online curated marketplace, with more to be added over the coming months. In addition, the platform offers inspiration and straightforward advice, making gardening accessible to everyone.
 
Sproutl is not just an online gardening marketplace. It’s a platform that provides inspiration and advice to a new generation of growers, demystifying gardening, making it accessible and fun to fresh new audiences who may never have grown anything before, bringing plants and products seamlessly from phone to door.
 
Gardening in the UK is experiencing a renaissance. According to the Horticultural Trade Association, the number of gardeners rose by three million last year, with nearly half of these aged under forty-five. During the lockdown, searches for plants rivalled those for dresses. And Google searches related to gardening have doubled from May 2020 to May 2021.

GlobalData estimates that the green-fingered boom shows no sign of abating this year, with spending estimated to rise by seven per cent.
 
From plants, pots and planters to outdoor living and gardening essentials, the site celebrates the best that gardening has to offer for the UK consumer.
 
The platform is designed to make shopping hassle-free for consumers and take the pain out of online selling for horticultural suppliers and integrate with their systems. 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, generating incremental sales.
 
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. Sproutl is already in discussions with many more partners who will join the marketplace in the coming months.
 
The seed and need 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 (who had 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.
 
Anni Noel-Johnson, CEO, & Andy Done, CTO, says: "We built Sproutl to invite a new audience to take up gardening and give them the world-class eCommerce experience that digital natives expect. Our mission is to demystify growing plants and remove the barriers to getting started." They continued, "We want to celebrate the UK's brilliant horticultural industry and the network of family-owned and independent businesses, bringing their plants and products together in one place, generating incremental sales to new nationwide audiences."
 
Hollie Newton, CCO, adds: "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 launch of the platform and its expansion are supported by a $9m seed investment which will allow Sproutl to move a step closer to its ambition of changing the online gardening landscape in the UK.  The funding is led by Index Ventures (backers of Dropbox, Etsy, Farfetch, Patreon and Deliveroo). This is complemented by investment from Ada Ventures (backers of Bubble and Huboo) and C-Suite angel investors from leading global tech companies, including Farfetch, Airbnb, Made.com, and Slack.
 
The funds will be used to expand its strong, industry-leading team of veterans of the gardening industry and senior talent from leading consumer brands, including Soho House Group, ASOS, Selfridges, King and Habitat.
 
Danny Rimer, Partner at Index Ventures, says: “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, says: "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."