Learn from the founders—meet Max and Jack from Plantclub
Max Brenssell and Jack Lancaster founded Plantclub and deliver plants to workplaces. Here they share some valuable insights into the founding of their own company.
4 min read
We had a conversation with Jack Lancaster and Max Brenssell, the two great minds behind Plantclub. Both have worked at N26 before and now help employers all around Berlin and Hamburg to inspire their employees and make their workspaces more productive and healthy.
Jack and Max have given us an insight into the joys and challenges that come with being your own boss. Read on to learn more about their work!
You founded Plantclub in early 2020. What was your motivation behind it?
Jack: I knew I wanted to do something super different with a physical product, with plants. So I did a lot of user research. We went out and spoke to people about their problems, we spoke to office and people managers to find out more about how they bring plants into their workplaces—out of all that research Plantclub was born.
Max: After N26, I was working in micro mobility - an industry which strives to be sustainable but is not quite there yet in many ways. In general, I was particularly interested in finding a B2B project that would allow us to bootstrap.
How did you two decide to start a business together?
Jack: We had worked quite closely together on a number of strategic projects at N26 and knew each other well. We went for lunch together to catch up and I told Max about the user research I was doing into the plant topic. After that we carried on talking about the topic and spent some time brainstorming about the market opportunity.
Max: From there was a very organic process. User research started to convert into the first customers. We started with a beta phase very quickly and had already onboarded 15 Plantclub member companies in just a few months.
What kind of difficulties did you encounter in the early stages?
Max: Fighting German bureaucracy! Also, opening a business bank account was surprisingly difficult. We had to go with a traditional bank eventually, which was difficult because we were used to the N26 experience.
Jack: Starting a company directly before the corona outbreak wasn’t ideal! There were so many unknowns through the start of lockdown but actually this period was useful in helping us to stay super focused on what we were trying to achieve, whilst being flexible about the idea of the modern workspace, which has expanded beyond just office spaces.
What were some of the highlights you’ve had with Plantclub?
Jack: The realization that companies were ready to work with us and trusted us. We work with companies that care about their employees and have received great feedback about how pleased employees have been to have beautiful plants in their offices, which is obviously very exciting for us. Also, a big highlight was moving into our own office space. It felt like we were now a real company.
Max: Being independent we also have the ability to be flexible and do things quickly. We had the idea to support people working in their home office—one client wanted to send plants home to their employees, so we spent two days delivering plants all over Berlin ourselves. That was pretty hard work, but super rewarding to see all of the happy employees receiving their plants.
What are your future plans?
Jack: We have just expanded to Hamburg and have our first Plantclub members there, and so growing there will be a big topic over the next few months. We’re also expanding our Employee Plant Store offering so that the employees of companies that we work with can buy things like herb boxes and sustainable Christmas trees, alongside beautiful plants for their home office.
Max: We also want to grow the team further in a few key areas, as well as building out partnerships with great architects and interior designers.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about founding their own company?
Jack: Don’t ask your friends whether your idea is good—they will always tell you what you want to hear. Go out and do your research, be critical and think about validating your hypothesis. Learn from people that have already done this to understand the processes and the path.
Max: I’d add that there’s never a perfect point in time. So if you have an idea that you want to work on, just go and do it. You’ll learn a lot along the way. You should try to take advantage of the flexibility and independence that you have in the early stages of a project.
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