Miracle-Gro teams with Columbus startup to launch gardening app

Miracle-Gro has teamed with four Columbus-based entrepreneurs to launch a gardening application designed to make growing your own food easier.

Cropping up just in time for spring, Sprout it is a web-based app that helps users determine the plants most likely to succeed in their gardens, accounting for scale, lifestyle, local weather conditions and difficulty. Then, Sprout it generates a customized gardening plan complete with notifications, reminders and encouragement that help users plant, nurture, and harvest their vegetables and herbs.

“Why make another trip to the grocery store when you can simply head outside?” asks Matt Armstead, CEO of Sprout it. “Whether you raid your garden for peppers and summer squash to add to grilled kebabs, top a game day pizza with basil and tomatoes, or serve rosemary infused gin, Sprout it provides the resources and knowledge you need to impress friends and family.”

Foodies, young professionals, and aspiring mixologists are just a few groups drawn to the idea of growing their own grub, he says.

miracle-groSprout it’s creators −Armstead, Sarah Bush, Brooke Paul, and R. Brian Stone− know the first steps to creating a new garden can be intimidating, which is why the app combines inspiration with a healthy dose of know-how throughout the year, thanks in part to a wealth of data and tips from Marysville-based Miracle-Gro.

“Edible plants are a gateway to gardening for many people,” says Patti Ziegler, vice president of global marketing and communications at Miracle-Gro.

“We saw this partnership with Sprout it as an opportunity to share Miracle-Gro’s resources and knowledge to help the next generation of gardeners succeed,” she adds.

Miracle-Gro has also helped fund Sprout it and, although he declined to share exact figures, Armstead says it’s a significant amount of revenue for an early-stage startup.

Additionally, the consumer awareness impact for Sprout it, courtesy of Miracle-Gro’s marketing and advertising reach, is  unheard of for most startups, he says.

Bush initially conceived Sprout it as native iPad app, which is still in the works, but it was decided that starting with an optimized web-based app would ensure the beta reaches the widest audience possible.

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Sprout it has been in the making for about two years, with the design evolving that entire time.

“But once we got it right, we started the technology build in November 2012, and we had a goal to launch by this spring,” Armstead says.

Luckily for the Sprout it team, Armstead happened to know several executives at Miracle-Gro, and through a series of meetings they were introduced to all the right stakeholders.

“The idea was extremely relevant to the strategic direction they were headed in and we hit it off immediately to get to where we are today in the multi-year partnership,” he says.

Due to that partnership and the growth strategy Sprout it is using, the app is free.

“And when we launch the native tablet and smartphone versions, they’ll just continue to enhance the overall convenience and utility of the app,” Armstead says. “We are looking for mass adoption, so hopefully free helps us with that.”

To learn more about Sprout it, visit App.GoSprout.it.