Greenzie just raised $4 million to deploy more robotic workers in the field for their customers.
Why We Invested in Greenzie
By Jon Birdsong
When Charles Brian Quinn (CBQ) started Greenzie back in 2018, he sat in the Atlanta Ventures office and made hundreds of phone calls in a booth. Each day he uncovered new clues in a nascent market. The findings were simple, yet profound. First, building another Roomba for your yard is interesting but not different. Two, competing with the brand names that have home-made autonomous tractors for large-scale farms is not a good strategy. However, the middle market: commercial lawn maintenance (52’-72’ zero turn mowers) was wide open for innovation and disruption. Fast forward to today, CBQ’s instincts were right.
Reducing labor costs is one of the core challenges every lawn maintenance company faces.
Validation was confirmed when Greenzie’s website went live and requests all over the country inundated the inbox. As market demand pulled CBQ and his team towards the problem, they had to figure out an economical solution. Building an autonomous lawnmower is not easy. If one is able to “lean startup” an autonomous lawn mower company, the Greenzie team has written the playbook. They first retro-fitted existing lawn mowers -- electric and gas-powered. Below is a great example of an early, autonomous mower where Greenzie added $8k of bells and whistles (sensors, cameras) required to power it with just software. Greenzie proved an autonomous mower could be built with existing hardware, knowing so much of the magic was in the software.
Yet, CBQ wanted to play to his team’s strengths which was not in hardware. About that time, a foretelling, inbound email found the Contact Us form.
Hi, I just finished binge watching your youtube channel last night. I had independently arrived at the conviction that this is primarily a vision based software challenge and that the open architecture of ROS was the tool of choice. It was affirming to see very smart people articulate this approach...
….I believe there is a good possibility that we could collaborate together in a way where we can create a robotic friendly platform and market your systems, accelerating the adoption of your solution.
Ed Wright of Wright Manufacturing, one of the leading minds in the lawn maintenance industry, saw two years ago what is occurring today. A partnership formed between Wright Manufacturing and Greenzie that will be studied by scholars for generations. Ed and the Wright team focused on what they specialize in: building preeminent and industry leading lawnmowers, while CBQ and the team specialized in their superpower: software. Today, Wright Manufacturing makes “Robotic Ready™” lawn mowers powered by Greenzie’s software. Below is a video demonstrating the fruits from that email.
My personal favorite Youtube comment:
“I was just wondering if my man Ed and Wright were getting left in the dust. I should of known better... Ed out here living in 2040. Awesome stuff. I can’t wait. I have been running wrights since 05." - Michael Candillo
Greenzie’s partnership with Wright Manufacturing confirmed several assumptions. Leading manufacturers can make “Robotic Ready™” mowers. The powerful organ of public opinion in the green industry is craving the solution Greenzie offers. Some of the industry’s largest customers, including publicly traded BrightView, have purchased millions in pre-orders in mowers!
CBQ and team, including recently added COO, Steve Bush, performed the remarkable: turned an autonomous lawn mower company into a pure software company while letting the natural order of operations maintain harmony from a supply-chain and distribution perspective. Greenzie powers Wright manufactured mowers, Wright Manufacturing sells the mowers to lawn maintenance companies like BrightView, they, in turn, pay Greenzie a recurring fee for the software...all while going through the ever important dealer network for repairs, maintenance, and distribution.
Below is a simple diagram.
The sunny peaks of a startup are not without several valleys. Supply chain management is still a major hurdle. Demand for the product significantly outweighs Greenzie and the manufacturer’s ability to supply it. Edge cases in the green grass portfolio of lawn maintenance companies are plentiful. But all of these roadblocks can and will be overcome by CBQ, Steve, and the talented team at Greenzie.
Greenzie has grown tremendously from those first few months of calls in the phone booth. Cold calling lawn maintenance companies who wouldn’t pick up the phone to now filling millions of dollars in pre-orders is an accomplishment for the history books. Atlanta Ventures knows we’re just getting into the scale stage which is why we are investing in the next phase of Greenzie’s industry changing trajectory.