Founder Profile: Léon & George

 
Léon & George on Wefunder

A new way to shop for plants

Summary

The gardening industry is a large $48B industry with sales in the home plants sector growing at 50% over the last three years. The gardening industry is an old industry that is due for some modernization. In fact, less than 10% of the sales happened online in this industry. The diversity of plants and the maintenance required for the different varieties can intimidate first-time plant owners. Additionally, going to a brick-and-mortar location can be a rather inconvenient method to find and purchase plants. The Léon & George team is bringing a new-age shopping experience for individuals looking to brighten their living spaces with greenery. The team offers curated selections of premium plants, ceramics, pre- and post-purchase support, and delivery directly to individuals’ doors. The team has created a white-glove experience and service that prioritizes convenience, quality, and service. We had the opportunity to interview with one of the founders, Ron Radu, so we could learn more about Léon & George.


Kingscrowd
Can you tell us the origins of léon & george?
Ron

The company started following our realization that everyone likes plants, and there’s an innate human connection to greenery. But there are some very clear pain points to finding, buying, transporting, and taking care of indoor plants. So Nico and I started the company to help make a pleasant experience out of this, and bring change to an industry that hadn’t really seen any innovation in the last 30 years. We named the company after our respective pets, Léon the cat and George the bird, and today the project we started three years ago out of our homes has turned out to be bigger than we ever expected. The good we do for our customers and the potential we see ahead is what’s driving us every day to keep growing the business.

Kingscrowd
How would you describe how you’re different from competitors like the sill and bloomscape?
Ron

Compared to other online plant retailers our focus is on providing an elevated experience. We source better-quality plants, higher-end pots, and offer superior customer service. We’re the option for the discerning consumer.

But really when we think about competition, we’re looking at existing consumer behavior, and places where 90%+ of people are currently buying plants: big box hardware stores and local nurseries. These are low information, low convenience, and low service experiences with a significant number of paint points. So when we consider our competition, the white whale we’re going after is this segment of the market, rather than other small retailers, as it represents our biggest opportunity.

Kingscrowd
As you guys have a relatively simple business model, can you talk about your secret sauce? is it the supply chain logistics you guys have developed for household plants?
Ron

The perceived simplicity of what we do is a big part of why we’ve been successful. We’ve abstracted away all the pain points of buying, transporting and taking care of indoor plants – particularly large plants. Behind the scenes, there’s a robust supply chain and logistics network we’ve developed over the last few years that enables us to prepare and deliver these plant and pot sets. We’ve found and developed tight relationships with suppliers on both the plant and the pot side, so we can ensure all the difficulties customers would normally have with fragile, heavy, and perishable products are addressed. Our secret sauce is ultimately that we’re able to do this at scale, and any new entrant would have a tough time getting to this point.

Kingscrowd
How do you see léon & george evolving over the next 3-5 years?
Ron

The company will likely evolve into being more of a home goods provider, with a focus on living greenery. As we’ve expanded our product offering and have moved to introducing accessories like art prints and side tables, we’ve seen the consumer appetite increase for these other elements of the home. Plants and pots will always be our core offering, but we won’t be limiting ourselves to that product category over the long term.

Kingscrowd
Can you talk about the potential product roadmap in the near term?
Ron

We already have a variety of plants available, but have plans to further expand our catalog with options for each possible home and office environment, including outdoor spaces. We’re also aiming to have pot options that appeal to diverse personal aesthetics, ensuring everyone can find what they’re looking for. 

 

Most importantly, we’ll be continuing what we started in 2019: making more of our plants available to more people across the country. Last year we expanded focus from just our local delivery markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and launched our large plants for nationwide shipping. Growth for non-California sales has been very remarkably fast, and we see a direct path to 10x our revenue just by expanding to new cities.

Kingscrowd
What are the biggest risks associated with your business?
Ron

We deal in perishable products that are grown outdoors, many in Florida, and could be affected by severe weather events like hurricanes. Additionally, our ceramic pots are sourced in China so ongoing tensions in international relations put some risk on pricing and availability of this element of our product. But we’ve worked hard to strengthen the supply chain over the last few years and have successfully mitigated any fragility, so we feel confident in our ability to overcome any risks.

Kingscrowd
How do you plan on expanding your corporate customer sales?
Ron

Nearly all our B2B sales are inbound, and we do minimal outreach to bring in corporate sales. Even so, businesses represent 20% of our revenue. With a sales team, focused entirely on securing deals with small to medium-sized companies, we can increase corporate revenue by orders of magnitude. Businesses have much deeper pockets than consumers and are looking to invest in their employees’ welfare and office aesthetics, so there’s an existing need and desire for our product in this space. Our goal is to build a small sales team dedicated to growing this portion of our sales over the next year.

Kingscrowd
Who is on your team today and what hires are necessary for léon & george to take the next step?
Ron

We have a talented team of 10 full-time people, and a handful of other part-time folks in our warehouses/greenhouses. We hire with a bias towards passion and adaptability in an ever-changing environment, which is a strategy that has served us well. Our planned hires for 2020 include salespeople, a software engineer, and additional help on our logistics team.

Kingscrowd
Why have you decided to crowdfund your current raise and how will the capital be utilized?
Ron

Our crowdfunding campaign serves not only as a way to raise capital, but also as a marketing tactic to raise awareness and create a community of investors that can become our advocates. This is an inherent advantage we’re proud to now have. 

 

The funds we raise this quarter through Wefunder will be used towards marketing and selling more plants, and also towards sustaining the operations side so we can fulfil all the new orders the marketing efforts bring in. There are pieces that fall into each of those buckets, like partnerships, brick-and-mortar retail, and new fulfilment centers.

Kingscrowd
It may be a few years down the road, but what do you see as potential exit opportunities?
Ron

Our most likely exit opportunity is an acquisition by a larger company in the home goods space. The growing market for plants as a staple of interior design, and the inherent operational difficulty in developing this supply chain internally, will require home goods retailers interested in adding this service to seek third parties that are successful with this type of offering. We are well-positioned to be a target of such an acquisition, and at that point all our investors would get a return on their money.


The KingsCrowd team is excited to see where Ron and his team are taking the company. We rated Léon & George as a Top Deal early in December and for good reason! We wish the team the best as they continue to grow. 

 

Léon & George is currently raising funds on Wefunder and is offering a SAFE with a minimum investment of $100 and a valuation cap of $9M.


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About: Olivia strobl

Olivia holds a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College with a minor in English. Previously, she spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture capital firm in Boston, where she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of startup companies.

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