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US (UT): Fertilizer startup raises $400K pre-seed

Krado is a Salt Lake City-based plant care startup using data from sensors, guidance from expert growers, and growing support (fertilizers, pest control, soil conditioners, etc.) sent to consumers’ doors. It’s also a startup that has seemingly cracked the code on winning pitch competitions. The company recently received a $250,000 award from Pelion Ventures in the form of a convertible note—the top award at the recent STRT Fest sponsored by Silicon Slopes. It has also won several other pitch competitions in recent months, including the pitch competition sponsored by Lendio in late August 2021.

The company plans to use these competition awards to hire marketing and sales contractors and upgrade the design of its plant sensors, making them smaller, more modular, and more serviceable for consumers. Its go-to-market plan also includes a new SEO/Content strategy involving plant care tips and becoming the HubSpot for plant-related information.

Prior to its pitch competition winnings, the company has been bootstrapped by CEO Eric Lo and two other co-founders, Jesse Montgomery (Chief Scientific Officer) and Max Ono (Chief Technology Officer). With the June $250K investment note from Pelion and $150K from friends and family, the startup has raised over $400,000 pre-seed.

Lo says he plans to participate in every regional pitch competition in the near future. “Wouldn’t it be cool if our entire pre-seed round was funded by winning pitch competitions?” mused Lo. Much of the pitching success stems from the broad appeal of plants, according to Lo. “We are surrounded by them. They are everywhere. And most pitch competition judges can relate to the problem of trying to keep plants alive,” says Lo. “I constantly hear, ‘Oh yeah, I struggle with plants,’ or ‘I spend a lot of money on my garden and still don’t get the results I want,’ or similar statements validating the basic Krado concept,” says Lo.

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