Jonathan sits down with serial entrepreneur, Coulter Lewis, founder of Sunday, a DTC non toxic lawn care brand. Sunday uses data, soil, and local climate to provide customers with what they need for their yard care without harmful pesticides.
Coulter starts off talking about the opportunity he saw in lawncare and how grass is one of the largest crops in the country and gets 5x more pesticides than any other crop. Early on, they started working with Frank Rossie, a professor at Cornell, and leader in turf science who has been pushing for environmental change in the space. Lewis found him through Rossi’s podcast and has been a big part of the business.
As Coulter began digging into the business idea for Sunday, he realized through his research and surveys that most people don’t know anything about lawn care. He learned from people that they were feeling incompetent, alone and unable which helped him realize that if he’s going to deliver value to customers, this is the area he needs to help. So he changed the business approach from product forward to service and experience forward.
When you think about your little lawn as a subset of the bigger picture of land, it feels inconsequential. So Coulter has focused on talking about the importance of how the product helps customer lawns, family and the big picture that it can still drive change by reducing toxic chemicals on the planet. If you think about the impact on better environmental practices on a backyard, as a whole, that has an enormous impact across the world
Because of the heavy science and service aspect of the business, such as translating all the data they collect into real time trend learnings for customers, their customer service team does a lot of training so they can be experts. They think through everything they can do to make this person confident and empowered to fix their lawns. Coulter talks about what they’re selling isn’t products, but an experiential solution.
The two talk about their recent Series B round of funding and how they have a lot to build. They need to build out technology and the creative side; expanding the offering of what Sunday can do outside of the home.
“We’re in a market that hasn’t seen change in half a century; and it’s a huge consumer facing market with the same old brands, for the most part. The amount of reinvention we want to be able to do – it’s not that we don’t have the ideas, we have too many,” said Coulter.
Home and farm pesticides are regulated in exactly the same way. Fertilizers are regulated at state level, which means every product needs to be approved in every state so there’s been a lot of regulatory learning. Anything in the pesticide category, even organic, is managed by the EPA. It’s expensive and slow.
As members of 1% For The Planet, they allocate most donations toward preservation of tall grass prairie in the US which only has about 4% remaining. As the episode closes, Coulter and Jonathan talk about the emotional toil of being an entrepreneur. It’s challenging and so exciting to start. “You ride every high and low all the way to top and bottom,” said Coulter.
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