After many failed attempts at growing anything, most people would accept defeat and blame it on their lack of a green thumb, but not Matt Harris. He saw it as a challenge and set out to design a product that would make growing a thriving vegetable garden easy and possible - no matter what a person's backyard (or gardening) shortcomings may be. The outcome? The Vegepod growing system.
Matt pitched his invention on an episode of last season's Shark Tank and received a $225k investment from Naomi Simson who has helped Matt get Vegepod into the US market with Jamie Durie as brand ambassador. So while Matt’s intention may have been to grow veggies, it seems he and his business partners have now grown something much, much more.
1. What you were doing before starting Vegepod?
“I was working in the corporate sector in I.T.”
2. How did the concept for Vegepod come about?
“I could never grow anything. I was a failure as a gardener and thought there has to be an easier way. If it wasn’t poor soil, what we did manage to grow would get eaten by possums, wallabies or birds. We quickly realised that backyard veggie gardens failed due to 3 main reasons; Too little or too much watering, nutrient deficient soil, and hungry wildlife. So we set about designing a solution that would combat these issues.”
3. What makes it unique?
“The Vegepod is the only large container garden available, (I daresay in the world). Using a container means having full control over the soil quality and allows the implementation of self-watering reservoirs at the base. This can reduce watering by up to 80%, so it’s great for dry climates in areas such as Perth and Adelaide. The Vegepod has a cover which creates a greenhouse environment so growth rates are significantly better than typical gardens and it also protects plants from wind, heavy rain, frost, snow and heat. The cover also reduces the number of pests and bugs that can get in. Plus, the container design means you can take it with you if you move.”
3. Tell us about the moment you sold your first Vegepod.
“I gave a demo at a small local nursery and they sold three Vegepods in the first week! I was blown away - almost as much as when I first planted out a Vegepod and everything grew like crazy.”
4. What has been the most challenging and most rewarding part of the Vegepod journey thus far?
“The most challenging part has been getting the product made in Australia as costs can be quite high particularly when you’re a start-up business. The most rewarding part however, is all the positive customer feedback. When we do shows/expos we get people coming up to us and raving about our product and I’ve had two customers tell me that the Vegepod is the best thing they have ever bought.”
5. Are there any new products in the pipeline?
We have just released stands which raise the Vegepod to waist height and we also have a frost cover in the pipeline for really cold climates and a shade cloth cover to protect plants in hot climates.
6. To what do you attribute Vegepod’s growing success?
“Without a doubt, hard work. From working in 43 degree heat, lugging soil up stairs to a customer’s backyard and of course hitting the road and selling the product. The Vegepod also makes people happy and healthy – how many products can say that?!”