Urban dwellers typically don’t have access to as much greenery as their suburban counterparts, who have yards and trees lining every street. But Welltended, a startup conceived from a student at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, could help city inhabitants’ homes and offices blossom.
The company specializes in matching consumers with potted plants suited for their home or office, and delivers it to them directly. Even after customers receive their plants, they can stay in touch with Welltended representatives, who will educate them on how to best care for it.
Carolyn Snider, founder and CEO of Welltended and a recent graduate of the Kellogg program, studied environmental studies as an undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles. But she thought of the idea for Welltended after moving to Chicago in 2016.
“Since I’m from California, I’m used to having a little bit of outdoor space,” Snider said. “Once I moved to Chicago, I found that I didn’t have any outdoor space whatsoever, and I was just eager to bring some green into my apartment, especially after my first winter here.”
Snider now has 70-80 plants in her two-bedroom townhome in Lincoln Park, and hopes to help others create their own indoor gardens.
When customers visit Welltended’s website, they can either shop for plants right away or take a quiz to find the right plant for their needs. The quiz asks about the environment the plant would live in, how much light it would receive in that space and how often owners want to tend to it, among other questions. Welltended sells a variety of plants, sourced from Illinois-based wholesalers, including succulents, Golden Pothos and rubber plants.
Currently, one of the simplest options for people looking for succulents or cacti is to hit up their local florist or other, more corporate home improvement stores, like Home Depot and Lowe’s. But Snider says there’s a market for her service because consumers will appreciate Welltended’s commitment to a convenient and useful customer service experience.
“We want to offer an exceptional customer service experience, and that’s something that we haven’t seen,” Snider said. “We can make it really easy.”
In August, Snider’s startup was the winner of the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows “Battle Royale,” a student startup competition between Kellogg and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Snider was awarded $50,000 to help expand her business, and she says she’s using the funds to add a marketing employee to the team and launch a new website.
Right now, Welltended has only three employees and they’ve been working out of the tech incubator 1871. Since they launched in February, they’ve sold more than 200 plants, Snider said.
“There’s data and studies that have shown how many health benefits they have,” she said. “Having plants in your home is an opportunity to create a healthy and happy space that you’re really proud of.”