Dec. 3, 2014, Vancouver – Grow food anywhere, with no experience required.
That’s the tagline of a new startup that took Startup Weekend Vancouver by storm, and is making headlines in a city that has vowed to be the greenest in the world.
My Green Space is a digital garden planner that helps individuals create their very own garden in any space – be it in an urban community garden plot, on a table in a downtown loft or on the window ledge of a 20-storey highrise.
It’s an app that provides a step-by-step how-to for urban gardening, from mapping a garden online and identifying which plants can grow in your space, to how to care for them and where to buy the supplies to do so (locally, of course).
From there, seeds or full pre-made starter kits are shipped straight to the gardener’s door. The app also offers daily guidance from a master gardener who reminds users when to plant, water and harvest all-year round.
With a second-place win at the fast-paced weekend, My Green Space has big plans for the future, including a massive mission to cover 100,000 acres of urban space by the end of 2016, one garden box at a time.
“We gained a lot of traction with the idea, and I’m excited to see where that takes us,” said Harpreet Bains, a member of the My Green Space team. “The outpour of support and encouragement from the community has been humbling, and shows there is a clear need for this concept to come to fruition. But it takes a village.”
Bains graduated from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) with a bachelor of arts in psychology, currently serves as chair of the university’s alumni association and sits on the university senate.
In addition to her passion for sustainability, she says the skills she learned at KPU – which itself boasts two research institutes dedicated to sustainability – allowed her to contribute to the project’s growing success.
“My experiences at KPU have prepared me for this initiative – I gained increased awareness of my community’s needs, and the understanding of how to meet them. I also learned the importance of maintaining a long-term, future-orientation outlook, and that’s precisely the basis of this tech initiative,” Bains said.
“I was instantly drawn to this idea, as there is no greater feat than empowering individuals with the basic tools for survival.”
Startup Weekend Vancouver is busy. It starts with fifty 30-second pitches, the top 15 of which form teams. From there, groups have 54 hours to launch their winning idea, before making a five-minute presentation to a panel of expert judges.
My Green Space ranked second, earning its way into office space at Vancouver’s Launch Academy, plus free legal fees, incorporation and the chance to submit their idea to Global Startup Battle.
The concept started with Michael Moll, who is well-versed in the benefits of growing his own food. While he says healthy veggies, fresh air, activity and community engagement are fairly well-known gardening perks, he noticed there existed a barrier to entry.
“I saw that friends and strangers alike wanted to get started themselves, but it’s not easy going from no knowledge, to setting your own garden up. Lots of people fear failure so they don’t try,” he explained.
“I believe in the power of technology to improve people’s lives, and having started other startups in the past I saw an opportunity here for a social commerce application built for people and profits. I talked to hundreds of people about the idea over the last year and finally pitched it. The response was amazing.”
My Green Space, like ConceptKicker, will represent Vancouver in the Global Startup Battle, which wraps up today (Dec. 3).
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