industry outlook series: mobile development for landscaping

To continue our market assessment series of seemingly tech-neglected industries, we’ve decided to share with you one we’re all too familiar with: landscaping.

TLDR: Landscaping is a highly competitive and highly fragmented industry. With >100,000 firms (most with less than 4 employees) in the US generating, and each generating, on average, <$1MM in annual revenue, lawn care and lawn design is quite the niche for the motivated indie developer. The key development principles should be: low-cost, standard-setting, and social.

Landscaping… huh?

We get it. In many cases, landscaping is hardly noticeable. Good landscaping is, more often than not, over-looked and taken for granted. In fact, we admit wholeheartedly that we typically only notice extreme cases on either end of the spectrum. Eccentric, extravagant, or neglected landscaping is typically the few times we appreciate the importance of lawn care. We find this pretty surprising, however, given that the superficial nature of lawn care is nothing less than marketing. And marketing is everything.

The sexy in the not so sexy industry

Unlike our previous assessments of oil and gas and trucking, the barrier to entry to landscaping is low. Any high school kid with lawnmower can (and has) become a successful lawn magnate. In fact, there are are over 100,000 lawn care companies reporting over $100B in revenue in 2020. Even more, of these 100,000 firms, roughly 70% are run by 1-4 employees.

The unique structure of the landscape business presents an incredibly attractive opportunity for the mobile app developer, and more specifically, the indie app developer. We’d go as far as to say that during the COVID-19 pandemic, landscaping has more than likely been spared (or at least much less impacted than other service providers). It’s our opinion that this is due, in large part, to the socially distant nature of the business and the fresh air of the outdoors.

Decentralization is the name of the game

How do you capitalize on a highly competitive and highly fragmented industry? Given most of the >100,000 firms in business generate <$1MM in annual revenue, how do you go about even wrangling such a decentralized industry? Our assessment is as follows:

  • Focus on low-cost: These firms are price sensitive. When framing your product, keep in mind that while these firms are less willing to spend money, they WILL spend on products that provide a visible return.
  • Standard-setting: Given the highly fragmented market, don’t over design for a given niche. Design for common issues of lawn care professionals.
  • Social: Any application should consider a social aspect. The industry is highly decentralized and an attempt to provide connections between disperse nodes (i.e. firms) is paramount.

Brainstorm with us

Now that we’ve set the stage for developing for this industry, let’s discuss some example app ideas (take them and run with them, please!).

  • Workforce planning – job board for allocating resources. Think gig-economy for landscaping companies and customers alike.
  • Equipment sharing – how can I lend idle equipment or trailers to other firms?
  • Crowd-sourced design – landscaping is highly creative; how do we leverage the collective designer brain to drive new industry trends?
  • AR plant prototype – leverage augmented reality to preview interior or exterior designs.
  • Sustainability – Public green house inventory to move product and reduce waste. Allow nurseries to publish inventory in real-time.
  • Sun exposure – Reminders for sun safety. Skin cancer is a threat to those who spend most of their time outside. Prioritize safety.

Wrap-up

To wrap things up, we’re excited about landscaping. The highly competitive and highly fragmented industry is perfect for an indie developer looking to jump into something new. We’ll leave you with one last opinion – focus on green technology. The industry appears to be trending toward more eco-friendly and less water-intensive alternatives. How can your application satisfy the increasing hunger for sustainability?

Let us know how we’re doing. Contact us or comment below with anything you’d like to see. We’re all ears!

industry outlook series: mobile development for trucking

Lifeblood of the economy

It’s arguably indisputable that the trucking industry serves an invaluable purpose in our modern economy. In fact, the old adage, “if you bought it, a truck brought it”, underscores the ubiquity of the industry. Agriculture, food, crude, and retail (among countless other sectors) rely extensively on the vast network of our trucking-supported supply chains.

More than 3.5 million drivers are currently in service (not to mention the countless support staff involved in maintenance, logistics, and rest stops). And of these, a significant portion are owner-operators, meaning these drivers are small business entrepreneurs. What we’re getting at is the employment block is massive and ripe with opportunity.

Significant industry issues lead to mobile app opportunity

It’s been our experience that truckers are one of the most tech-savvy and well-read groups. The industry demands it. Obviously, these men and women spend a significant portion of their lives on the road. This time spent driving is typically spent listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and, more often than not, self-reflection.

How many of us non-truck drivers look forward to taking long road trips as an opportunity to get away and think? We definitely do. Given this aspect of trucking culture, we can envision a number of opportunities to develop meaningful applications to not only solve non-trivial industry issues, but to also enable the sharing of these insights with the general population.

Before jumping into mobile app opportunities, we want to bring to light a few problems facing the industry as a whole:

  • Safety
  • Low driver retention due to wages, lack of ownership, and disruptive regulation
  • Time away from family and friends
  • Uncertainty in the future

These issues (and more) contribute to an industry wrought with a significant labor shortage (even pre-COVID).

Ideas for mobile applications

While trucking might not be the most sexy industry for which to develop mobile applications, the potential prize makes it one worth considering. Even more, the apparent lack of focus enables a less-competitive landscape with respect to software development.

Example applications to spark your innovation (take these and run with them):

  • Safe driving – connect truckers with regular drivers; truck traffic, stalled vehicles, alternative routes
  • Augmented reality field and service manuals
  • Social network of road reflections – the general public would benefit from driver thoughtfulness
  • Truck stop reviews and facilities reservations
  • Podcast, audiobook, and radio sharing
  • Gig-style job locator for owner-operators
  • Crowd-funding for driver-led projects (increase ownership and leverage entrepreneurial spirit)

We believe that developers are vastly underestimating the potential for virality. The >3.5 million drivers (and countless support staff) are bound by a common culture. Successful ventures will undoubtedly spread quickly, and the culture of loyalty will increase switching costs to competitors.

About the industry outlook series

We’re always sharing freely the ways in which you can get involved in industries that are typically neglected by trending social media. These ideas are distributed as a way to spark innovation and potentially fill technology gaps. If you’d like us to explore another industry, please reach out to us at social@noworrieslifestylebrand.com (or comment below).

If you enjoyed this read, check out our industry outlook of the oilfield.

industry outlook series: mobile development for the oilfield

Economic climate demands near-perfection

Every now and then we’d like to take a step back from explicit Swift discussions, and dive into our assessment of opportunities in industries that don’t get much attention. The aim is to provide you with ideas outside of your current frame of reference. This week we’d like to discuss a unique opportunity for mobile development – the oilfield. The following article is brought to you by our energy-focused, sister organization – petrolytic.

For most, the thought of the oilfield brings to mind images of heavy machinery and barren deserts. While appropriate, operations are becoming increasingly digitized with an obsession for tech buzzwords of the month: machine learning, big data, artificial intelligence, etc. You name it; the industry is interested. In fact, operators and oilfield services companies of all sizes are desperate for ways to improve safety, mitigate environmental impacts, and make step-changes in efficiency. The current economic climate and public opinion demands it.

Environmental improvements and efficiency gains are not mutually exclusive

There’s no doubt that green tech and renewable energy is trending; and for good reason too. This doesn’t mean, however, that petroleum products are going away. A transition appears to be inevitable, but it’ll take quite a bit of time (barring some black swan event). In any case, there exists a number of opportunities to “greenify” the oil and gas industry and make it more palatable to the masses. Efficiency gains and environmental improvements are not mutual exclusive. As oil and gas professionals, we’ve always felt we had the responsibility to be good stewards of our land. This brings us to the crux of the article – mobile software for the oilfield.

Many might not know that exploration and production companies, as well as, oilfield services companies have significant R&D spending. Even more, many have dedicated VC funds aimed at the next big innovation. In our opinion, there exists ample opportunity to create value for all stakeholders (mobile app developers, oil companies, civilians, shareholders, state revenue… on and on).

Oilfield app ideas

For example:

  • Improving safety (oilfield priority #1) by implementing a mobile notification system to alert of workers of possible incidents.
  • Applying models on mobile devices to diagnose well issues and improve well surveillance.
  • Reservoir simulation should be available on a mobile device (even if the computations aren’t performed on-device).
  • While obvious, how about a gig-economy setup for truckers, hotshots, and frac crews?
  • AR possibilities are endless: training crews, virtual equipment/process manuals, and even surface facilities layouts

It appears to us that much attention is given to the hot sectors: biotech, social media, and the gig-economy. And while attention given to these sectors, other industries are neglected. Our take is that competition is lighter in this industry.

In conclusion, while the oil industry is moving in the direction of tech innovation, it’s incredibly lacking as a whole. The industry is craving more attention and more creative thinkers. While you might not agree with fossil fuels use, providing the means to improve the value chain is undoubtedly beneficial to all stakeholders.

For more posts like this one, please subscribe to our energy-focused newsletter at petrolytic.