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Product Overview- Beej - A Gardening App

Updated: Nov 13, 2022


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1. Introduction


The importance of hobbies can’t be understated, especially at a time, when everyone is burdened with their work and family responsibilities. Pursuing a hobby not only serves as an incredible stress buster, but helps you develop confidence, new skill sets, and at times, even a passive source of income.


Gardening often features as one of the most pursued hobbies across the country. One can pursue Gardening for a multitude of reasons, be it feeling closer to mother nature, growing own organic food, meeting new people through community gardening, or simply de-stressing the mind. Moreover, in the last few years, it has become massively popular amongst the corporate crowd, who had to stay put in their homes, following the Covid-19 pandemic.


However, there are many issues that budding or even experienced gardeners face, and this deters them from continuing on their gardening journey.


This PRD addresses some of these issues, by proposing an app that simplifies the process of getting gardening advisory for both novice and experienced gardeners alike, and in the process, making them better gardeners.



2. Hypothesis


Despite growing in popularity as one of the most pursued hobbies, Gardening remains a daunting task for many.


Many have a tough time navigating the complexities of nurturing a plant, understanding soil profiles, deciding on optimizing the fertilizer mix, or simply following a watering schedule.

Often, certain unfavorable experiences such as the untimely demise of plants, discourage novices and even experienced gardeners from continuing their journey.


Though there are many gardening blogs, and videos scattered across the web, there is a dearth of platforms that provide gardening advice based on specific constraints (such as space, sunlight, wind, etc.) for budding gardeners or solutions to maintenance-related problems (such as pest control, etc.).


The gap in the market allows us to curate a space for gardening advisory and nurture the habit of gardening.



3. Scoping of the Problem


The target group was mostly people from Tier-1 cities, who have very little time to go through elaborate gardening tutorials on their own. These can either be corporate employees, entrepreneurs, or housewives, who are fully occupied with their daily routines. We went with the assumption that these people won’t be able to spend more than 5 hours a week on their gardening pursuits.


We also hypothesized that gardeners face problems irrespective of the garden area that they have. Therefore, the problem wasn’t just limited to container gardening on small or medium-sized balconies but also involved roof-top gardening and full-scale ground gardening.


Based on the above hypothesis, we conducted elaborate focus group interviews with 14 people, and then surveyed 61 individuals with specific questions related to: -


a) Current experience in gardening


b) Motivations for growing a plant


c) Challenges/constraints while nurturing a plant


d) Initial diagnostic steps taken by the gardeners to arrest the spread of diseases in plants and/or ward off pests/insects


e) Most used sources for learning about gardening


f) Time availability (weekly) for gardening pursuits.


g) Solution-specific questions such as

  1. For inexperienced gardeners, willingness to opt for gardening advisory for a monthly fee

  2. For experienced gardeners, willingness to use timely notifications for watering plants, tilling soils, and spraying pesticides


4. Data Analysis: Observations


The collected data can be roughly categorized into six areas: -


4.1. Current Gardening Experience


Almost 78% of the respondents had some experience with gardening, and could potentially be our target customers. Additionally, 18% of the respondents do not have a garden, but were eager to start gardening with some assistance.




There were about 13% respondents, who do not currently have a garden, but had a garden in the past.


4.2. Preferred sources for buying plants


Almost 83% of the respondents preferred buying from Nurseries. There was also a sizable population (48%), who preferred growing plants from seeds/stems along with buying potted plants from nurseries.


4.3. Motivations/Considerations for growing a plant


One of the major considerations while growing a plant is the availability of space and sunlight.

Aesthetics and Decorations were the major motivation for growing a plant followed by growing of own food.



4.4. Challenges faced by Gardeners


4.4.1 Problems faced by Active Gardeners


A) The major problems faced by the gardeners are:-


  • Lack of knowledge w.r.t soil profile, nutrients, pot dimensions

  • Following a watering schedule

  • Pests and other infections

  • Wrong placement of plants, whereby the plant doesn’t receive proper sunlight and air


B) A multivariate analysis of the issues faced by gardeners as a function of Gardening experience and weekly gardening hours indicates:-


  1. People in the gardening experience range 2-5 years and are willing to spend less than 2 hours weekly on gardening: More than 90% of the gardeners in this cluster face issues related to pest infection. They also lack knowledge about nutrients and soil profile.

  2. People in the gardening experience range of less than a year and willing to spend less than 2 hours weekly on gardening: More than 90% of the gardeners in this cluster face issues related to following a watering schedule, along with a lack of knowledge about nutrients, and soil profile.


4.4.2 Survey of People who left Gardening


60% of the respondents who left gardening had a gardening experience of less than a year. 80% of this cluster felt that lack of knowledge about nutrients, soil profile, and pot dimensions and not following a watering schedule made them do so.





4.5. Diagnostic steps taken to solve the issues


Almost 67% of the respondents preferred looking up videos, and blogs on the internet to resolve issues with their plants. A sizable portion (38%) also sought help from their parents and friends to resolve their issues.


Most of these respondents could devote less than 2 hours weekly, on gardening


4.6. Receptiveness for our solution


Online Video Tutorials remained a popular option for respondents interested in Gardening, with 70% of the respondents opting for it.


Interestingly, gardeners who had quit gardening preferred gamification as a mode of learning.



5. Insights

Major Observations

Implications

Space availability was a major criterion for people in the gardening experience range (0-3 years)

The app should have a recommendation engine to suggest plants that meet certain criteria, as specified by the users

Gardeners had problems following a watering schedule

Prepare a curated Watering Schedule, and send daily reminders through the app

Most people lacked knowledge about soil quality, nutrients, pot dimensions, etc

Create an Easy to understand Fact sheet, for each plant grown by the Gardener. At a later stage, create Videos that would start at level 1 (Introduction to Gardening), and slowly increase the complexity involving topics like nutrients, and soil profile

Community Discussions are also popular

Create a moderated community on specific topics, moderators can be experienced gardeners

Most people can only devote less than 2 hours per week for gardening

Online Videos should be short and crisp

People who left gardening, preferred gamification as a mode of learning

Introduce a Gamified Platform that rewards people for purchasing a plant, watering it daily, and recording its growth

Majority of the people preferred buying from Nursery

Tie up with the major Nurseries, and deliver plants

On Demand Online Consulting

App should have a feature for 1:1 Video/Chat consulting

6. User Personas





7. Final Problem Statement and Hypothesized Solution


A platform that understands gardeners’ preferences in terms of their gardening motivations, constraints and challenges, thereby helping them in choosing the right kind of plants to buy, nurture and maintain.


Proposed Solution: A mobile app that interacts with the user to understand preferences, constraints and problems the user has, to support, guide and motivate them to confidently pursue gardening as a hobby.


Multiple apps today work in this space to provide support in urban gardening. These involve apps to set reminders for schedules (watering, compost, pruning etc), apps for community discussions, apps to journal your gardening routine, Apps that read images to provide information on the specific plant. However, there is no single app that offers end-end gardening support and guidance.


8. Product Design & Features


Based on the insights obtained from the survey, Beej was designed with features to address needs, issues and expectations of the user base (new and experienced). The features envisaged include


A) For all users:


Feature 1 Personalized dashboard: This feature allows users to create their space on the app where the existing plants can be logged or their pictures can be uploaded. For users interested in gardening but with no plants this may act as the final trigger to go that extra mile to start growing a plant and build their profile.


B) For users new to gardening:


Feature 2 Plant recommendations: This feature involves collecting input from users on

Potted plants or seeds

The area available for gardening

Intensity of sunlight in area

Availability of adequate water supply

GPS location

User’s time constraints

Amount of effort user is willing to make


Based on the input, the app suggests the plants that can grow in the given conditions and the time and effort the user is willing to invest. These tailor-made suggestions will allow users to commit to a task that they are confident in. It also ensures continuity as the plants are likely to grow well thus motivating the user.


Feature 3 List of nurseries: Since most of the responders in the survey preferred nurseries, this feature will add value to the user. Following the selection of plants from suggestions provided through Feature1, a list of nurseries will be displayed for the user that sell these plants. The list will be curated based on his/her location (collected via GPS). Further, information about each nursery; eg: Precise location, website address/contact details, reviews etc will be provided when a specific nursery is selected.


Feature 4 Top 3: Once purchased, the user can log the plants on his dashboard. With a single tap/click the user gets information on the space required to grow, sunlight and water needs, the plants flowering cycle etc. Most importantly, the top 3 points to remember/consider in taking care of the specific plants will be displayed.


Feature 5 Video Assistance: The user will be provided with short snippets and videos of eg: how to till the soil, how to add manure/fertilizer, how to identify unhealthy leaves, how to prune etc.


Feature 6 Calendar sync: Based on the calendar availability of the user and plant needs, the app can directly block time for activities like watering, pruning, adding fertilizer etc thus helping the user to take good care of the plants purchased. This can be done with the help of notifications.


Feature 7 Expert Connect: This is a possible space where the user will be connected with an expert gardener (gardeners with +8yrs experience) who will be available to answer questions, follow-up on how the plants are, resolve issues and collectively have an enriched gardening experience.


C) For users experienced in gardening:


Feature 8 Top 3+ : For experienced users in-depth information specific to their plants is provided like methods of pollination, flowering cycles, common pests, making the right manure at home, need/schedule for changing pots etc. Most importantly, top 3 points will include the ones that will enhance the understanding of their plants to make them healthier and also to reap benefits out of them.


Feature 9 Identification of issues: This feature will allow users to:

  • upload a picture of their plant that is having issues (withering leaves, pest, insect infestations, discoloration etc) The app will provide the identification of the problem using Deep Learning.

  • The users can provide descriptive information of the issues they are facing


Feature 10 Video support: Based on the problem identified, users are recommended short videos on how to address the issue.


Feature 11 Community support: Based on the description provided by the user, the app provides links to community discussion happening on similar issues.


Feature 12 Expert Advice: The users get a list of experts (gardeners with +8yrs experience) that have previously handled/ know how to handle this specific issue. They can connect 1:1 to seek help.


Feature 13 Calendar planner & tracker: This feature allows users to plan their schedules for each plant, set reminders and track their plant cycles and growth. With many plants to take care of and with different watering schedules, this feature will benefit experienced gardeners to track each plant's schedules and stay on top of the tasks.


Feature 14 Weather alert: Based on the location of the user (captured via GPS) the app sends alerts of upcoming weather forecasts (heavy rains, excess heat, cloudy, increased humidity etc.) that will impact the plants. It will also provide suggestions on how to ensure the impact of this weather change is minimal.


Since not every proposed implication can be implemented, the idea is to rank these features under implementation effort and user impact and design only the ones that score high on both the parameters.


D) Ranking of all the Features based on Impact and Effort:

Features

Impact

Effort

Feature 1

High

Medium

Feature 2

High

Medium

Feature 3

High

Low

Feature 4

High

​Medium

Feature 5

Medium

​High

Feature 6

High

Low

Feature 7

​Medium

High

Feature 8

​High

Medium

Feature 9A

High

High

Feature 9B

High

Low

Feature 10

Medium

High

Feature 11

Medium

Medium

Feature 12

Medium

High

Feature 13

High

Medium

Feature 14

Medium

Medium



E) Final feature list for MVP:

Features

Impact

Effort

Feature 1 Personalized dashboard

High

​Medium

Feature 2 Plant recommendations

High

Medium

Feature 3 List of nurseries

High

Low

Feature 4 Top 3

High

Medium

Feature 6 Calendar sync

High

Low

Feature 8 Top 3+

High

Medium

Feature 9b Identification of issues

High

Low

Feature 11 Community Support

Medium

Medium

​Feature 13 Calendar planner & tracker

High

Medium

Feature 14 Weather Alert

Medium

Medium

F) Impact of few Selected features:

Feature

Description

Feature 1 Personalized dashboard

27% responders wanted to have an interactive experience while receiving support

​Feature 2 Plant recommendations

Most responders considered factors like space, sunlight, effort needed etc as factors for choosing the plant

Feature 3 List of nurseries

83% responders purchased plants from nearby nursery

Feature 4 Top 3

30% responders prefered to read to find solutions to their issues

Feature 6 Calendar sync

47.9% responders could not track or did not know when to water plants

Feature 8 Top 3+

30% responders prefered to read to find solutions to their issues

Feature 9b Identification of issues

45.8% experienced gardeners lack information required to identify and resolve issues

Feature 11 Community Support

32.2% responders prefered to reach out to community to resolve issues

Feature 13 Calendar planner & tracker

47.9% responders could not track or did not know when to water plants

Feature 14 Weather alert

Additional feature


9. User Flows


9.1 New User Flow:



9.2 Experienced User Flow:



10. UI Mockups:


10.1. No Prior Experience - New User


10.1.1. Signup and Post Signup Screens


10.1.2. Landing Page - My Garden


10.1.3. Recommendation Screen (Only for New Users)



10.1.4 Nearby Nurseries Screen



10.2. Experienced User


10.2.1. Signup and Post Signup Screens


10.1.2. Landing Page - My Garden


10.1.3. Landing Page - My Garden (After user uploading their plant photos)


10.1.4. Community Discussions and Nearby Nurseries Screen


11. Important Metrics


11.1. Features Metrics


In the MVP stage, we would mostly focus on features that drive Acquisition and Engagement.


At a macro level, we would mostly look for:

  • Weekly Active Usage: Most of the users of this app would involve hobbyist/amateur gardeners, and therefore, won’t be gardening daily. It’s, therefore, important to look at weekly active usage to monitor retention.

  • Second Month Retention: As with any hobby, consistency is important. Many start a new hobby but quit after a few weeks. This metric is to measure how many gardeners are still using the app in the second month. This metric is particularly important for New Gardeners.

  • Churn Rate: Many experienced users would also be using this app, and they might stop using it after a few weeks. This metric would help us understand the reasons for dropping off, and accordingly, add new features in the next release.


11.2 Success Metrics


11.2.1. Primary Metrics:


A) Onboarding Completion: Number of users, who actually complete the entire onboarding procedure post-sign-up, and look up the details of at least one plant or upload a photo of at least one plant


11.2.2. Secondary Metrics:


A) Kind of Plants searched for: This would help us understand what kind of plants(houseplants, vegetables, outdoor) the users are most interested in. This would help us create more personalized content in subsequent releases.


B) Tagged Issues: This would help us understand what specific kind of issues a gardener is facing, and accordingly prepare content, build DL Models to identify the issues, and offer diagnosis in subsequent releases.


12. Conclusion


This app mainly focuses on hobbyist/amateur gardeners and helps them in overcoming the inhibitions associated with developing it as a hobby. The app comes with a recommendation system for plants based on information obtained during the onboarding stage.


Information such as goals, time commitment, space, and climate constraints are taken into consideration to suggest plants to grow and nurture.


This app also features content on some of the most important know how for a plant and also comes with a reminder feature to keep track of watering, tilling, and adding manure.


The metrics are designed in a way that would provide feedback to add more sophisticated features and advanced content in subsequent releases.



Meet The Thought Leaders



Kshitij Maheshwari is a growth and user experience-focused product manager. He has worked with some of the most innovative startups and technology companies in the bay area like Tesla, Roofstock and now is working on product lead growth for Invoice2go. Outside of work, you can find him enjoying deep discussions about the future of the Marvel universe and finding great new places to satisfy his sweet tooth.



Meet The Authors (GGI Fellows)


Shubham Gupta is an engineering graduate from KIIT Deemed to be University, currently working as a Product Manager with HighLevel. He is passionate about product, technology, user experience and works at their intersection to build products at scale.

Outside of work, you can find him having conversations about startups and products, sweating it out in the gym, or making travel plans for his next workation.


Anjanakshi is an Architect turned Entrepreneur currently running a design-led, product-based lifestyle startup called Wallistry. She recognised she had a deep passion for entrepreneurship in during her college days (U.G) at School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University. She believes she can impart her creative learning into problem-solving. The journey of running her venture for the last 5 years has made her look further inward, making her self-aware of her strengths (Leadership, empathetic yet effective decision-making) and identifying potential areas to be sharpened. She loves to write, paint and read.


With a PhD in LifeSciences and experience heading a product-based startup, Akhila is currently helping European companies bring their products to market. She loves books, pets, and nature.






Swapna Samir Shukla is an experienced Data Scientist with a demonstrated history of working across diverse Sectors ranging from Banking Services(Cards, Payments, Capital Markets) to Healthcare and Supply Chain Management. He has an undergrad degree in Engineering from NIT Rourkela and an MS in Analytics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). He is passionate about technology in general and Data Science in particular. Outside work, You can find him sketching superheroes, cooking, or sweating it out in the gym.

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