Robotic lawn care service utilizing autonomous lawn mower technology.
Raised to Date: Raised: $92,798
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Amount raised as of October 31st, 2018: $31,044
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Air pollution is an environmental issue that is also recognized as one of the biggest threats to public health around the world. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency recognizes the extensive evidence of exhaust emissions and other fine particulates resulting in adverse health effects such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, premature death, and effects on prenatal development.
However, while the adverse impacts of air pollution are somewhat obvious and widely known, the role of gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment (GLGE) in contributing to air pollution is often overlooked.
Yet, GLGE are an important source of toxic and carcinogenic exhaust and fine particulate matter, with garden equipment engines contributing up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution.
Meanwhile, garden equipment can also be cumbersome and inconvenient to use. Homeowners want to keep up with their lawns to increase their pride in and the property value of their homes, but lawn maintenance requires them to constantly mow lawns and create disruptive noise.
Robin Autopilot offers a convenient solution to customers who want easy, environmentally friendly lawn care through a robotic lawn service that combines autonomous lawn mower technology with human crews to provide residential customers with comprehensive lawn care. The company’s fully electronic robotic lawn care service has the potential to reduce as much pollution every week as replacing two family cars with electric cars.
Robin Autopilot installs robotic mowers at the customer’s home, and their robots handle the mowing, while human crews come out periodically to handle the edging, trimming, weeding and other yard care needs.
Customers pay a set monthly fee based on their level of service and size of property. Because of the robots, the price is actually less than they’d pay traditional landscaping services while receiving a higher-quality and more reliable service.
Company & Founder Background
In 2015, the company began with an “Uber-for-lawns” on-demand business model, completing more than 195,000 lawn care jobs over its first two years. It was in this time that founders Justin Crandall and Bart Lomont experienced many of the challenges present in the lawn care industry.
After appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank in November 2017, the founders decided to fully commit to the future with a robotic mowing-as-a-service franchise business. They sold off the “Uber-for-lawns” portion of the business to Porch.com, but retained the rights to the company’s brand, intellectual property, and the robotic mowing business.
Today, the two co-founders of the company are still working together to grow the Robin Autopilot franchise. Justin Crandall currently serves as CEO and has gained experience in entrepreneurship through working with several computer software startups in Texas since he graduated from Harvard Business School in 2005.
Bart Lomont, COO, served in the U.S. Airforce from 2003-2013, after which he started a financial services company called Silvr, a payment platform that allows consumers to pay for goods or services with no person or hardware necessary on the merchant end.
Details on the product/service
Although prices may vary based on the location and services provided by the franchisee, they will typically fall into the following ranges:
- The Silver package which consists of robot mower maintenance, repairs and insurance costs $95 to $125 per month for lawns up to 1/3 acre.
- The Gold package, which adds biweekly edging/trimming to the Silver plan, costs $135 to $165 per month for lawns up to 1/3 acre.
- The Platinum package, which adds 2 hours of bed weeding and shrub trimming to the Gold plan, costs $165 to $199 per month for lawns up to 1/3 acre.
The company has also partnered with the Modern Tool and Die Company (MTD) and their affiliate, Robomow, to supply the robotic mowers and associated devices to franchisees across the country. These partners have the ability to support distribution of Robin Autopilot robots to the 20 sites that the company aims to operate across the nation by the end of 2018.
The robotic lawn mower market was valued at $861.6 million in 2016 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.14% to reach $2.2 billion by 2022. The expected drivers of this growth will come from an increase in professional landscaping services, an increased adoption of green spaces and green roofs, and the adoption of smart home concepts.
The company’s customers are primarily residential homes in suburban areas with yards ranging from 2,000-to-50,000 SQ FT of grass. This wide range encompasses a broad customer segment of homeowners, as the average American has a one-fifth of an acre (or 8,712 SQ FT) sized yard.
Once customers sign up for Robin Autopilot’s services, the company can continue to generate revenue from their monthly subscription payments. The company offers services to commercial clients as well, but its primary focus is on the fragmented residential market.
The Robin Autopilot mission is to make lawn care Eco-friendly, Reliable, and Affordable using the power of technology harnessed by entrepreneurs. The company is positioned as a low cost solution based on its price competitiveness compared to traditional landscaping services and on the convenience that a monthly subscription model provides.
There are only a few competitors that deliver a similar service to customers, and even fewer competitors are positioned as eco-friendly, which sets Robin Autopilot apart. As the market is still mainly untapped, pricing models remain unclear across the industry.
Similar to Robin Autopilot, Mowbot’s value proposition is centered around providing a green, clean, and quiet lawn-care service to customers.
Although there is no exact pricing information provided by the company, the company states that “Mowbot typically costs the same or less than other professional lawn care services.”
While Autmow cites similar environmental statistics about lawn-mower emissions, the company is differentiated by the fact that it sells robotic mowers rather as a good rather than as a service.
A robotic mower typically costs from $1K to $3.5K, with monthly financing options ranging from around $45-75/mo. or weekly leasing options at $19/wk.
No funding raised
The Ground Guys offer residential landscaping services from lawn maintenance to irrigation. The company does not use any robotic lawn-care technology, but does follow a franchise model to provide lawn services to homes across the nation.
Although there are no pricing details listed on the company’s website, The Grounds Guys provides free precision estimates on all jobs inquiries.
Neighborly, formerly Dwyer Group, one of the world’s largest franchising companies of trade service brands, has acquired The Grounds Guys of Canada. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Source: KingsCrowd Research
Business Model Validity
Business Model Validity
Currently, the company has acquired 200+ robot customers and has sold its first 6 franchises in 2018 in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin areas, reaching a monthly revenue of $90,000+ in May 2018. The total investment required to begin a typical Robin Autopilot franchise ranges from $49,850 to $111,600.
This is inclusive of an initial franchise fee of $29,000 that is paid directly to the company and is required to execute a new franchise agreement. Additionally, a fee of $1,400 is assessed to set up a website landing page, and to provide access to Robin Autopilot’s cloud-based business management software, Robin Aviator.
The initial robot package fee—consisting of 12 robotic mowers with a $150 deposit on each—costs franchisees $1,800. However, franchisees are expected to scale up their volume of customers and robots to more than 100 units within the first year of business.
In addition to the initial franchise license fees, franchisees pay 6% of their gross revenue as a royalty fee to Robin Autopilot, and there is a monthly technology fee of $300. The company also earns a portion of the transaction from the sale of robotic mowers and interest fees on the financing of the robots.
In a typical installation, the franchisee will set up a mower unit and its docking station at a customer’s residence and will return to maintain the edging, trimming, weeding, and other lawn care needs on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for a total of $95 to 199 per month.
The Recommendation: Top Deal
Robin Autopilot may be working in somewhat unchartered territory, but the company seems to have gone through many iterations, from Uber-for-lawn-care to servicing robotic mowers, that vision has become much more clear since they company’s inception in 2015.
The key to Robin Autopilot’s business model is driving a quality experience for all customers through their franchisees. Maintaining quality and rolling out a high level of service can prove challenging when scaling through franchises.
However, the cost savings this will drive for customers looking for lawn care and increasing comfort with smart home solutions should help to make Robin Autopilot a highly successful business.
Robin Autopilot is well positioned to capture market share as an early entrant to a fast growing multi-billion dollar market opportunity with its affordable and convenient lawn mowing solution.
At the current $10M valuation with a founding team that has proven success before and plans for national scale in place, we think this is a Top Deal worth consideration in your investment portfolio.