From private equity to gardening, there is only one step. Quentin Lanthier gave proof of this by leaving his position as a financier at Rothschild to found in November 2021 Bleen, a start-up specializing in lawn care. An unlikely journey? Before the Covid, we would certainly have said so. Since then, the vagaries of the epidemic have prompted aspiring entrepreneurs to leave comfortable salaried jobs without looking back.
His business idea was born during a lockdown. His lawn, like that of many French people, was yellow and peeling. And in garden centres, the fertilizer offer is difficult to read and attractive. “The customer finds himself in shelves filled with huge plastic canisters that all look alike”, testifies the entrepreneur. How to choose ? The head of the department warns him against the toxicity of the products for children and animals. The concept of Bleen is born: pre-dosed natural nutrients to provide the lawn with the fertilizer it needs at the right time of the year. All accompanied by personalized support.
“I have been interested in the gardening sector for a long time. It’s pretty old school. Unlike hygiene and beauty, there are few start-ups on the web,” he says. The entrepreneur wants to found a DNVB, a brand present only on the internet, which markets in the form of an annual subscription of three personalized boxes, depending on the geographical location of the customer.
Surround yourself to grow
To develop the offer, Quentin Lanthier approaches gardeners specializing in lawns, such as the company Natural Grass, agronomists and laboratories.
To finance R&D, he contacts investors via LinkedIn. “I was very lucky because they responded positively to my request and then introduced me to other business angles,” he says. He brings together around his project profiles as varied as Jean-Philippe Darnault, former general manager of Truffaut, Antoine Martin and Alexis Bonillofounders of Zenly or even Martin Balas, co-founder of Blissim . And raises, in July 2021, 1.5 million euros. “These funds allowed me to avoid the phase where the company is struggling. We were able to develop the formula, hire and launch a line of bulbs and plants.”
Talk about your brand
Because the brand launched last February intends to become a garden center in its own right to reach the 88% of French households who have a space to green, even if only a pocket handkerchief on their balcony. In the meantime, he must make himself known to the 12 million French people who own a lawn. “We are targeting 30-50 year olds who don’t want to spend their weekends gardening but who want to have a pleasant place to have a barbecue”. The entrepreneur relies for this on advertisements on social networks, partnerships with sites “like them”. And word of mouth. “The concept seems to please, rejoices Quentin Lanthier. The 100 beta testers have all renewed the subscription. »
Bleen has already been approached by chains such as Jardiland, Gamm Vert or Truffaut, interested in this innovative concept. “I’m thinking about it, but I prefer to keep a direct link with Internet users to answer their questions via chat. The customer relationship is at the heart of our concept”. With a team of seven members, the start-up from Noisy-le-Roi, in the Yvelines, intends to break even within two to three years.