Don’t you love it when you walk into your office and are greeted by plants, providing you with a healthy work environment throughout the day? Well, don’t take them for granted. Behind those plants is the interior landscaping industry, which involves designing, installing, and maintaining indoor plants and gardens for commercial and residential settings. Maintaining these environments can be very costly.
Iryna van der Meij and Marco Zijlstra founded Nurtio to help monitor and maintain indoor plants in commercial real estate using advanced technology. It helps avoid long-term problems and is cost-effective because gardeners can work more efficiently.
Building a High-Tech Solution
In 2016, Iryna van der Meij relocated from Kyiv, Ukraine, to the Netherlands to participate in an international MBA program. Nine years before, in 2007, she had started her own company in her home country: a landscaping and gardening service for corporate customers. Now, she remains a non-executive director at that company and is currently focused on building Nurtio Technologies as a co-founder and CEO. This company was born as a solution to the pains she experienced in her first company: mainly the inefficiencies in maintaining interior landscapes, especially for real estate. Therefore, she aimed to create a high-tech solution for the interior landscaping industry and streamline the processes to become a category-defining enterprise in the connected plantscaping industry, including outdoor landscaping, cityscaping, and horticulture.
Nurtio is also the first company to build a centralized data pool to see how plants are maintained indoors on a large scale. As a result, Nurtio already sees dependencies between light, temperature, ambient climate, season, and the plant’s life cycle, which allows the company to build accurate predictive models of plants’ future behavior.
“The idea of this company was born from the pains I experienced in my first business. There are many inefficiencies in processes in the landscaping service industry. For example, plant technicians don’t see plants every day. Sometimes they even have to use their fingers to test the soil’s moisture, and it’s easy to miss long-term problems such as a plant not getting enough sunlight. As a result, maintaining many plants on various sites costs time and money that could be used otherwise. Regardless, it’s the 21st century, so things shouldn’t be so outdated.” – Iryna van der Meij, CEO and co-founder at Nurtio.
Nurtio works mainly in the B2B industry. Their primary target audience is professional plant service companies that maintain plants in the office, hospitality, or real estate environments. They take care of hundreds of thousands of plants daily. Therefore, the scale of operation is very different from the existing consumer solutions. A solid business case exists for those companies: using Nurtio’s technology saves money and enables growth. The primary focus of Nurtio is on the interior landscaping markets in the USA, the United Kingdom, and the Nordics.
“I just came back from a big event in the USA. I see a huge market opportunity worldwide. But first, you need to understand the market, as it has a complex composition and supply chain. But this is where our strength in Nurtio lies: we come from the B2B plantscaping industry. So we can confidently say we know it inside out” – Iryna van der Meij, CEO and co-founder at Nurtio.
Back in 2018, Nurtio joined the validation program of YES!Delft and learned how to do market validation. Afterward, they immediately proceeded to the Accelerate program. Thanks to YES!Delft, Nurtio had a solid base to create a minimal viable product. Currently, four people are working at Nurtio: the co-founders, a senior software engineer, and a project manager for marketing.
So far, Nurtio has been funded mainly through governmental grants. In January 2023, Nurtio closed its first institutional funding from Shamrock Ventures, a Dutch early-stage impact venture capital fund. They primarily fund early-stage companies that positively impact society and the environment. It is an excellent opportunity for Nurtio to test several new product ideas and improve its portfolio.
“We have an experimental mindset at Nurtio. We experiment with the sensors at our homes, too. We do dozens of small daily experiments; if something fails or underperforms, we have the mindset and capability to change direction fast.” – Iryna van der Meij, CEO and co-founder at Nurtio.
Making significant impact
Nurtio is preparing to raise more capital, and the funding round remains open. They are quite meticulous about finding other partners that are an excellent match to accelerate their growth. Nurtio looks to build its presence in the USA for the upcoming year. There are also big plans on the technical side, such as developing new software features and releasing a new version of hardware for the new market segments. They will take every opportunity to make an even more significant impact.
Your dream can become a reality too. As long as you want to make a change, don’t miss the opportunity to boost your start-up by joining the YES!Delft Validation Lab or Accelerator Program. However, if working for a start-up resonates more with your ambition, we got you! Check out the vacancies on our YES!Talents page!
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