New Innovator: Quickcrop
Lots of people dream about leaving the rat race behind and moving to the country. What usually gets in the way is the small matter of still needing to earn a living.
Sligo-based Andrew Davidson and Niall McAllister have managed to do both by setting up Quickcrop, a web-based vegetable growing company with a difference.
Unlike existing grow-your-own systems that typically focus on a narrow range of crops, Quickcrop helps vegetable enthusiasts grow any crops they want.
The brains behind the system is a newly developed bespoke software programme (called Gromatic) that sends customers tailored information about growing their chosen crops.
Gromatic is free to use but the company is likely to start charging a small user fee from next year.
Quickcrop makes its money from supplying everything an aspiring vegetable grower needs from Irish-made timber raised beds and bulk bags of soil mix to seedlings and tools.
The company is anticipating a turnover €350,000 this year and sees the UK as its prime short-term target market.
“Most people starting this type of enterprise would come at it from a horticultural point of view. We developed it from the perspective of potential customers and how to make the whole experience of vegetable growing as easy and as successful as possible, whether this is in a private setting or a school or nursing home,” Davidson says.
The partners started Quickcrop with an investment of €25,000 when their previous businesses (in graphic design and office supplies respectively) were wiped out by the recession. Trawling for a new business idea they hit on turning their veg growing hobby into a business.
Davidson says the project would never have flown without the support of the Sligo Enterprise Board which has nominated the company for this year’s National Enterprise Awards.
“We also got help through the Job Bridge scheme which allowed us hire an intern to focus specifically on getting us right up the Google rankings,” he says.
“What makes us different is that we use easy to navigate drag-and-drop technology on the site and basically hand-hold people with no experience of growing veg. Most other sites assume a level of knowledge,” Davidson adds.
“Developing our own software means we can support people throughout the whole growing season with regular emails telling them when to feed a crop or to thin it out, etc.
“Our aim was to give people high quality information and we have detailed videos on the site for around 35 different crops with guidance from organic vegetable expert Klaus Laitenberger. We want customers to succeed.
“If their growing experience is a disaster they won’t do it again. In a nutshell it’s project management for vegetables.”