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How this robotics startup wants to change how your grass gets mowed

Hire Henry currently plans for a soft launch with its fully functional prototype this summer
Credit: SLBJ
Hire Henry co-founders Keiry Moreno Bonnett and George Leno Holmes Jr. with their lawn mower prototype.

ST. LOUIS — As a teenager, George Leno Holmes Jr. would wake up early on Saturday mornings to mow lawns with his grandfather. But Holmes had horrible allergies and says he would often think there had to be an easier way to cut grass.

He had a robotic lawn mower in mind, but at the time had no interest in robotics or engineering. Today, Holmes has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and is CEO of Hire Henry, a company that has developed autonomous robotic mowers for commercial lawn care. Key to the startup’s creation was participation in the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program, which allowed it to travel the U.S. to conduct interviews with individuals in the commercial landscaping industry. Those conversations revealed a challenge for lawn care companies to hire enough talent. 

“That was when we were like ‘OK, we definitely need to start a business around this and we need to provide a solution,’” Holmes said. 

Hire Henry, co-founded by Holmes and Katie Moreno Bonnett, currently plans for a soft launch with its fully functional prototype this summer.

The product: Hire Henry has developed a heavy duty commercial robotic lawn mower with patented technology designed to cut grass without user intervention.

How it makes money: The startup said it plans to offer its mowers to entrepreneurs who want to launch and scale technology-focused lawn care companies via franchise ownership.

Size of market: The commercial lawn care market is approximately more than $100 billion and growing, the startup said. 

Competition: The company said its competition includes the other lawn care companies currently operating. However, it contends that none of its competition provides its technology and its business model provides a competitive advantage. 

Competitive advantage: Hire Henry said its technology and business model allows its business partners to quickly scale their lawn care companies. It contends it has two major advantages over its competition: 1. Its mower is extremely portable, bypassing the need for expensive equipment. 2. It utilizes remote operators, which allows franchises to grow their team even when local labor is unavailable.

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