Sustainability Spotlight is where we shine a light on a business, non-profit, local group, or institution doing good things for the planet and inspires us.
The idea for Pyoor LLC was born when Old Greenwich resident Heidi Horn decided to emulate at her home an Earth-friendly lawn care practice common in her native Norway – and quickly discovered that many of her friends and neighbors wanted to “green” their lawn care too. From that one insight, Heidi built Pyoor (www.pyoor.co), a growing ecommerce business now linking customers across the region with sustainable services for home and personal care. With support from her husband Erik (who is the enterprise’s chairman), the mission, Heidi says, is to help consumers purchase and manage high quality, affordable, environmentally conscious services on a “one-stop” platform created just for that purpose – something that is still relatively uncommon in the U.S.
But Heidi didn’t start out intending to create an entire company.
On their arrival in the U.S. five years ago, the Horns first settled in New York City, where Erik represents a European-based investment bank. They soon saw that “Manhattan can be tough when you’re coming from a place like Norway where it’s all about nature and the outdoors,” Erik says. “So we came to Old Greenwich.”
Bringing a European Sensibility to Connecticut Lawn Care
Connecticut offered its own rude awakening. “In the summer, we were shocked at how lawn care is done here – all the vehicles blocking the road, the big gas-powered machines, all the noise,” says Heidi. “It’s like day and night compared with lawn care in Europe.”
“In Europe, small or battery-powered robotic lawn mowers are very popular because they’re so clean and quiet, and we decided to get one,” says Erik. “But first, it was very difficult to find anyone selling them, which was surprising, and second, we couldn’t find anyone who could install them. Back home, you make one phone call, and it’s done. So we got one on Amazon and installed it ourselves.
“And soon, every day, we had 10 or 15 cars pulling up in front of our home, with people asking how they could get a robotic lawnmower too.”
Seeing an opportunity for a home-based business – and a community service – Heidi launched a small company providing the robotic machines for lease or sale. Then she took the sustainable lawn care concept even further, retaining a small team to provide landscaping services, supported by electrically powered tools and an electric car for transport from job to job.
“All of a sudden, I was running a landscaping company!” says Heidi.
An “Uber-Type” Approach to Green Services
Over time, Heidi says, she learned her customers wanted to secure other green services – but often found it challenging to identify good, affordable providers and to manage relationships with multiple vendors.
“So we came up with the idea of an online platform where green-minded homeowners could easily meet local green vendors and purchase the services they wanted, all in one place,” says Heidi. “It’s an Uber-type of approach.”
Today, Pyoor (a variation on “pure”) offers services for robotic lawn mowing, green lawn care, nonchemical home cleaning and eco-friendly at-home hair styling. All of the vendors are carefully evaluated by Pyoor for quality and affordability. Customers can browse the vetted vendors, choose those that best fit their needs, and schedule and pay for services all on the site.
The digital platform has made securing robotic lawn mowing especially easy for customers. “Starting out, we needed to examine properties onsite and figure out what kind of machine made sense – it was very time consuming,” says Heidi. “Now, the customer simply identifies their property on a Google map and answers some questions about the lawn itself. The customer then is automatically matched with a robot that fits their needs, arranges to buy or lease, picks a day for installation — and that’s it.”
Going digital also has let the Horns scale up Pyoor to serve customers throughout Fairfield County, with plans to expand geographically and add more green vendors. Among the prospective new offerings are “smart home” services, to be offered in collaboration with Westport-based TecKnow, a leading provider of smart home automation technology.
A Busy Home Front
Today, Erik continues to work for his New York-based employer while overseeing Pyoor as chairman, and Heidi manages all of the company’s day-to- day operations. They also have two young children, Oscar, age 8, and Emilie, age 6. It makes for a busy home life, especially so at the beginning of last year with the challenges of pandemic-induced home schooling. “It’s a lot of running around,” Heidi says. “I’m thrilled that we have great new team members coming onboard. We just hired two additional landscapers to our lawn care team while also securing a social media and marketing professional who will run our marketing efforts. We’re also seeking back- and front-end developers.”
The Horns are gratified by the opportunity to help fill a vital need: Getting people over the hurdles that can impede the adoption of more sustainable lifestyles.
“It really comes down to a lack of information and accessibility regarding green services. Often, people simply don’t know how to locate what they want,” says Erik. “But we also know, as a business, that just ‘being green’ isn’t enough to keep our customers – we also need to provide a great platform that makes going green easy and efficient. That’s what we’re doing.”
The Horns also want to help people better appreciate the beneficial impact of sustainable living. To that end, Pyoor also calculates for customers how much they have reduced their “carbon footprint” by using its services.
“Ultimately, we want to educate people about not only Pyoor, but also how to think and care about sustainability,” says Heidi. “That’s part of our mission, too.”