Bryan Clayton is CEO and cofounder of GreenPal an online marketplace that connects homeowners with Local lawn care professionals. GreenPal has been called the “Uber for lawn care” by Entrepreneur magazine and has over 200,000 active users completing thousands of transactions per day.
Before starting GreenPal Bryan Clayton founded Peachtree Inc. one of the largest landscaping companies in the state of Tennessee growing it to over $10 million a year in annual revenue before it was acquired by Lusa holdings in 2013.
Bryan’s interest and expertise are related to entrepreneurialism, small business growth, marketing and bootstrapping businesses from zero revenue to profitability and exit.
Most passionate about
- I am the co-founder and CEO of a company called GreenPal, which, in one sentence, is kind of like the Uber of lawn mowing.
- We have over 300,000 people using the app and we’re doing $20 million a year in revenue. So, we’re kind of an eight-year overnight success.
- Our business has doubled year over year for the past six years. That’s the cadence we want to continue until the numbers just get too big.
Bryan’s career and story
- I started mowing grass as a way to make extra cash, to put myself through college. When I graduated college, I had to make a decision. Was I going to stick with this little lawn mowing business, or go into the job market? Luckily, I decided to stay with the lawn mowing business. I didn’t really want to be a grass-cutting guy my whole life, but I was making good money. I was earning a good living and I kind of liked it.
- In 2013, that business was acquired by one of the largest landscaping companies in the United States. By growing that business, with just me and a push mower to 150 people, I learned a lot through trial and error about how to grow a business, how to get a business to profitability, and how to get a business sold.
- I realized that about myself and I thought, ‘Okay, well, it’s time to start the next thing.’
- The idea for GreenPal was a straightforward one for me. I addressed the things I saw over the previous 15 years of growing a landscaping business. I thought, ‘Okay, an app needs to exist to make this easier, kind of like Airbnb and Uber and Lyft.’
- I recruited two co-founders and we went to work. We really didn’t know the first thing about any of that stuff. We just didn’t give up. We stuck with it. We focused on little goals and got those done, then kept making the app better and better.
- One thing that got us through those early hard years was that we would make it extremely easy for anybody to talk to us. We would always talk to our users and our customers to get their feedback, to understand what it was we needed to work on. We stuck at it and kept applying that feedback and improving the app. Here we are, eight years later, and we have a profitable business that’s growing.
Best advice for entrepreneurs
- If you’re just getting started, my best advice is to get as many loyal customers as you can, whether it be six, a dozen, twenty, a hundred.
- Don’t focus on big goals and big revenue goals. Just focus on little goals, making those people’s lives better.
The biggest, most critical failure with customers
- We thought that the value proposition was going to be to deliver the cheapest way to get your grass cut. We thought, ‘If we can just be $5 or $10 cheaper than the other way, people will use the app.’ That was a mistake.
- Also, in talking to people on both sides of the transaction for a long time, we kind of ignored the supplier side, the vendor side. That came at a cost because we didn’t really understand that if these guys and gals weren’t really happy with the product, they weren’t going to use it.
Biggest success with customers
- So, once we started to understand our value proposition and really understand, “This is how we compete in the marketplace and this is how we deliver a solution,” that’s 10 times better than the status quo.
- We began to acquire a lot of homeowners and consumers using the app. We began to understand that we offer a nice convenience to homeowners.
Bryan’s recommendation of a tool
- Semrush – Online Visibility Management Platform
- If you’re going to bet the company on SEO, you have to measure what you’re doing.
- It’s not cheap. We spent a lot of money on it but it’s something that helped us put our company on the map and get it to multiple eight figures in revenue.
Bryan’s one key success factor
- It has been managing my own psychology and understanding that you’re always going to be working on your best idea. That’s it.
- There’s no going backward, there’s no giving up, there’s no switching to something else. You’re always going to be working on your best idea.
Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, I want to ask you: Is there a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed?
- I was on a trip to Mexico, just exploring the country this summer, and I booked a tour to go on a hike. I had no intentions of climbing a mountain. I thought this was a hike. The guy picks me up and says, “So, how long have you been mountaineering?” I said, “I’ve never been mountaineering.” He goes, “What do you mean?” I said, “I’ve never climbed a mountain in my life.”
- Long story short, we get up there and it’s about a seven-hour drive outside of Mexico City. We get there and it’s about four hours in an off-road vehicle to the starting point. The air is very thin. I could barely breathe. We stayed the night in this little hut and at about 1 o’clock in the morning, we begin climbing this mountain.
- I started to understand some things as it relates to climbing a mountain and, really, even the journey of starting a business. I noticed that this guy, my guide, was fanatical. He looked back at me and said, “Brother, thank you so much for booking this tour because it was only when you booked this tour that I got to be on the mountain. And it’s only when I’m on the mountain that I feel alive.”
- I realized, “Wow, that’s leadership. This guy is fanatical about the goal of getting to the pinnacle.” His fanaticism enthused me and got me through it.
The best ways to connect with Bryan