Introducing Class 1: Sprinklr
Words by Kristina Foster
Photos by Marie Wanders
This week in our Introducing Class 1 series, we catch up with our old friend Suzanne van Straaten from Sprinklr. Since she last spoke to Let it Grow, she’s been busy growing her amazing plant box delivery service into a sustainable business.
Since hitting the market in April 2016, Sprinklr has become a godsend for first-time plant owners who are lacking in the plant-care knowledge department. After creating a customised selection of plants for the conditions of your apartment, Sprinklr sends a plant-filled box to your door, along with advice on how to keep its contents green. It’s a business built upon founder Suzanne’s van Straaten’s passion for getting green into people’s homes. As she seeks to grow Sprinklr within Let it Grow Lab’s Incubation Programme, she faces the challenge of fulfilling her other passion, sustainability, and finding a planet-friendly way of sprinkling green from city to city.
We last caught up with you in June – tell us what you have been doing over the summer?
In June we had just finished our crowdfunding campaign so the first thing on the list was to send plants out to all the people that supported us which was quite a big operation, but an extremely fulfilling one! The goal of the campaign was to see if there was potential and a market for what we’re doing. Afterwards we immediately started building our web shop and started designing our summer and autumn collections. So yes, we’ve been very busy with building, improving and growing.
Wow, that sounds like a busy summer! Obviously you saw that there was a real market for Sprinklr. How are you trying to change the traditional plant retail experience?
At Sprinklr, we try and remove all the barriers for people to buy and keep plants for indoors and outdoors. The first barrier is that people don’t know which plants to buy, so we help them by making a customised selection. The second barrier is that many consumers don’t want to go to far away garden centres, so we solve that problem by delivering the plants to your home. The third barrier is, now that they have the plants, how are they going to keep them green? We remove that barrier by giving you advice and updates via our app.
For me sustainability is so important and so is the urgency to grow towards a healthier planet.
You previously told us that you had worked at the 1%Club, a crowdfunding platform for social entrepreneurs. How do you feel to be an entrepreneur now yourself?
In hindsight, I now admire those people that I worked with at the 1%Club even more. Being an entrepreneur is such a challenging and strengthening experience. You learn so much in such a short amount of time. It makes you grow personally because you have to rise to the challenge yourself; you can’t just push it it away. It’s also really special to be able to do things your own way. For me sustainability is so important and so is the urgency to grow towards a healthier planet. Everyone in the Sprinklr team shares that same vision and drive. Each step of the way we think: how will this impact our planet? How can we stimulate the industry to become more sustainability-minded? The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you can do everything on your own terms, and for us these terms are: “as green as possible”.
Is it difficult to balance this wish to be a sustainable business whilst also trying to grow commercially?
It’s a constant challenge. We’ve had things getting in the way of expanding Sprinklr throughout the Netherlands because we weren’t able to find a distributor that could deliver our products with a CO2 neutral process. You have to search and search until you find an ally, someone who also has the same mission as you and then together you can overcome that problem. Our commitment to sustainability definitely makes growing a bit more challenging because you impose all these standards for yourself, but you need people who understand your mission and want to grow in a similar way. I see more and more players in the horticulture industry that are becoming aware of that. With those players, you have an instant click. You operate from the same point of view and share the same values. So yes, it makes things harder but it also makes things easier by finding the right partners that fit.
You have to search and search until you find an ally, someone who also has the same mission as you.
It’s one month into the Incubation Programme, what have you already learnt?
I’m really happy with the structure that the programme has given us. We’re really learning about how to get to know our customers better and really dive into what it is they like about our products and how to make the most of those features. Knowing all that, we can reach out to a lot more people. I’m really happy with all the training and support that the programme is giving us, and the way that they have us constantly working on our business proposal and making our products market fit.
What are you going to focus on these next months?
We really want to work on our market approach, how we’re going to get a bigger market share and how we’re going to reach everyone in the Netherlands. Another important aspect is funding and how we’re going to get the means to really grow Sprinklr into a first national and then an international business. That is our vision: to be a sustainable supplier of green in big cities all over the world.