When Ben Kling ‘13 left his first job in New York, he carried out an office plant with a box of his things. Five years later, he filled his apartment with between 50 to 70 plants, everywhere from the kitchen to his bathroom.
With so many plants, Kling said he wanted to create a tool to help people care for their plants.
Kling said he started working on his idea last May—designing, marketing, and promoting his app, DRYP, across social media platforms to raise money for its blossoming. Users enter information about their plants into DRYP, which uses notifications to remind users to water their plants. It also incorporates a diagnostic tool to explain what’s wrong with a plant and how to fix it and includes basic lessons on light, soil, watering, and potting.
Kling said he set a budget for his fundraising campaign on Kickstarter at $35,000, which he believed was the minimum required to release the app for IOS without investors.
The campaign reached its goal last Saturday after 2,000 backers donated over $38,000, making it the eighth most backed app of all time on Kickstarter.
“I wouldn’t have started if I didn’t think that it would make the amount,” Kling said. “It’s a very obvious idea in a lot of ways. People keep asking me, ‘Isn’t this already a thing?’ It’s not.”
According to the Kickstarter campaign, DRYP “will help aspiring plant parents break their murderous cycle — and it’ll make life easier for experts who have a whole jungle to care for.” It describes DRYP as a “personal plant assistant.”
Kling collaborates with a close friend, who asked to remain unnamed, to assist in development.
“I did a couple of early designs to get my developer convinced to work on it with me,” Kling said. “Once he said yes, and I knew I could actually make it, I spent the entire summer redesigning it and making marketing materials like ads—Instagram ads, Facebook ads, and animated stuff.”
In October, his developer will start working on the first version of the app. Kling said he plans to contact investors to perfect the app for the market.
“We’ll probably have the means to launch in December, but it doesn’t really make sense to launch a plant app in the dead of winter,” Kling said. “So, we’ll probably get a version now and test it, and perfect it, and do a more significant launch in the spring.”
Kling said if investors get involved, he hopes to affiliate marketing by adding the option to purchase plants or accessories through the app. He said he also wishes to incorporate animated lessons for people lacking a green thumb.
In the meantime, Kling is always busy recording music; doing animation and illustration freelance; writing for ClickHole, a comedy website; and even building furniture in the woodshop in the basement of his apartment in Brooklyn.
“I try to vary the things that I do, to keep things interesting. So this is one of a bunch of things but it’s going to be the main focus for a while,” Kling said.
Kling said he plans to sell DRYP for 99 cents on the App Store to cover service costs.
“I don’t want to make a cluttered ad-filled version of the app, and I don’t want to do a free version of the app that doesn’t work as well,” Kling said.
Senior Abbrianna MacGregor said she purchased bamboo and sunflowers for her Boston apartment to attract colors and liveliness. She said she realized caring for plants can be tricky, especially as a busy student.
“I’m just putting water in [plants] blindly and giving them sunlight and hoping that’s all they need, because I don’t really know the differences between the plants,” MacGregor said.
MacGregor said she often forgets to water her plants and would definitely consider paying 99 cents for an app that provided guidance and daily reminders.
“I think it would be good to have the notifications and feel like the money I paid for the plants isn’t going to waste, and that I’m taking good care of them,” MacGregor said. “My bamboo hasn’t been watered in months, so I think I need this app now. I just want my bamboo to thrive.
In the following month, Kling said he plans to send merchandise to those who pledged to the Kickstarter, with reward varying on the amount donated.
“I would like to keep working on [the app],” Kling said. “There is enough interest, I can tell, so if we can figure out a way for it to be profitable then I would love for it to be a decent-sized company.”