Our startup: Grow So Simple

Dan Robson's Grow So Simple won £80k of investment on Dragons' Den. So what's his plan?
BizAge Interview Team
Dan Robson and his brother Joe, the founders of Grow So Simple
Dan Robson and his brother Joe

Hi Dan! What is Grow So Simple?

Our objective is simple; to get dirt under the fingernails of every household and we aim to do this through our innovative, easy-to-use gardening kits. We strongly believe that people should have access to growing their own fruit and vegetables and eating plant-to-plate regardless of age, experience or whether you’re working with a third-story balcony or an allotment garden. 

Why does the market need it?

While our business idea might sound very simple, there are so many people who feel like they aren’t able to get involved. People feel ill-equipped, unprepared and uninformed when it comes to growing-your-own. So there’s definitely a market for selling a product that is all about making gardening as easy and seamless as possible. 

People’s passion for sustainable products is also a key driver. One of the core beliefs driving the product design at Grow Sow Simple is our products’ environmental impact. The ethos is simple, growing from seeds is a natural process which should never create any negative impact on the environment as a by-product. This is why our entire range is made of bespoke moulded fibre by Glasgow-based Cullen Eco Packaging, which means that our products are waste free, biodegradable and compostable. As a result, our products have little to no negative environmental impact.

The Dragons' Den pitch was a hit with Sara Davies, founder of Crafter's Companion

Where is the business today?

Recently, we’ve been heavily involved in a number of other transactions and trade shows, making deliveries to a huge US customer, while also being in the final stages of launching Peppa Pig themed products. 

We also pitched Grow Sow Simple on Dragons’ Den, which has been a great boost for our brand. Since going on the show, we’ve extended our deal with Asda and new products will be going on sale in even more major superstores very soon. These new deals mean that we’re now on track to turnover £1m, which is a big jump from the £315,000 we were doing at the time we went on Dragons’ Den.

Again, having a manufacturing partner that can scale and grow with us, while allowing us to make little to no negative environmental impact -regardless of how big we mission critical. And that’s why a partner like Cullen Eco Packaging is so important; they’re already making 1 billion products a year for 34 markets so they can more than keep up with us as we expand globally. 

We were lucky to find Cullen, who has been there for us from the start. They have helped us to develop the concept from the very beginning. As with any start-up, we have experienced challenges and their fantastic sales, and management team were very supportive, allowing the business to continue trading and make it through the tough times. This is what we look for in our suppliers and we are very grateful. 

What made you think there was money in this?

I first launched Grow Sow Simple in 2014 after getting the idea for the seed boxes while studying at Northumbria University. I was studying design and researched guerrilla gardening, the concept of finding disused and neglected urban areas and planting them up, to ultimately improve the community.  

Although we launched in 2014, demand for the boxes really took off during the ‘grow your own’ lockdown trend, which was the moment we knew that we could be making some serious money here. 

I think what really sets us apart from our competitors is the ease and accessibility of our products - As our company name suggests, they are so simple to use, affordable and there’s something for everyone and every space. We’re also a resolutely eco-conscious brand, which can’t be said for some of our competitors. I think that our customers truly value that. After all, gardening should have a positive impact on the environment!

What funding do you have? Is it enough?

Our Dragons’ Den pitch was very successful, securing an £80,000 deal with Sara Davies, founder of Crafter's Companion. We’ve also landed a huge US contract, which has helped us to reach £1m in sales for the first time – and this happened before the deal with Sara Davies had even been completed. 

What is the future vision?

On the back of our new contracts, Grow Sow Simple now has a team of 10 staff in production and warehouse staff, we predict that the workforce will grow extensively in the near future.

Our future growth will be dominated by new product design. At this point in time, our seed boxes have really fun themes, such as pizza topper, herb garden and cocktail botanicals but we are constantly testing new and exciting additions to include in our ever-growing product range.

In fact, we have some fantastic ideas ready for launch in June, at shows in Birmingham and Europe, and we’ve secured a licence agreement with an Austrian company Gusta Garden for their innovative pots, so we’ll be distributing those.

The most exciting thing is our range of 3D puzzle gardens under the Peppa Pig brand - we’re designing them now. So we’ve got a lot going on and a lot to look forward to.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
February 15, 2023
Written by
February 15, 2023