Challenge 4: Seed

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Seed is a platform targeted to
aspiring members of the landscape industry. It is primarily an educational
outlet, though it also matches users with potential employers. The program
contains several different tracks, a feature designed to fit various demands.
The minimum level of commitment to the platform is the “hobbyist” track, which
is for users interested in growing and maintaining gardens in their own homes.
Other tracks offered include “landscaper,” “gardener,” “farmer,” and “landscape
designer.” The user featured in the journey map, Jonathan, has opted into the
“landscaper” program.

We chose to focus on the landscaping
industry for several discrete reasons. For one, although a 2- or 4-year degree
in horticulture is typically viewed as a bonus in this industry, it is by no
means required. Entry in this field is therefore possible and desirable for
those who have been out of work for many years. The landscape industry has
experienced steady growth over the last few years at an average rate of 3.9%.[1]
According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals, although the
industry employs about 1 million people in the U.S., there remains a persistent
shortage of qualified employees across all levels.[2]
The field is therefore ready for an innovation like Seed, though this industry
disruption might come at the expense of some of the existing 2- and 4-year
agricultural and horticultural schools.

Jonathan, a father and former
semi-professional hockey player, was referred to Seed by a friend. He is
interested in having a flexible career so as to maintain his active role in his
children’s lives. He chooses the “landscaper” path in the hopes of gaining
part-time employment at a local landscaping firm. Seed provides motivation through a combination of
digital and tangible rewards. The initial segment of the “landscaper” track
contains a digital garden, which functions much like games like “Farmville.” As
the user moves through the platform, he is rewarded with free seeds in his
mailbox and discounts at big-box sponsors like Home Depot. These small prizes
are intended to nudge the user to maintain his commitment to the end result –
finding a career in the landscaping industry.

The
platform instructs primarily through images and text. The “landscaper” path
requires the user to identify geographic differences in climate, as well as
types of trees, plants, diseases, pests, and tools. Once the user has gained
these basic skills, the platform pairs him with local businesses and charities
so that he can apply his learning experientially. The user will be required to
shadow a business, and will be given the option to interview if there is an
open position. If not, the platform will refer him to other local businesses
looking to hire landscapers. Ideally, the user’s journey on the platform will
him having successfully gained a job. Seed therefore motivates users by
facilitating their search for employment.

 The landscaping industry is ripe for
disruption, as demand for labor far exceeds current supply. The combination of
education and hands-on training offered by Seed will appeal to employers and
potential users alike. The diversity of tracks available, moreover, from
hobbyist to landscape designer, expands the pool of possible users.

Other
motivating factors are that (for various users who may not fit Jonathan’s exact
profile) we provide deals at landscape companies, job interview opportunities,
shadowing opportunities, digital badges, and a physical plant, as well as plant
growing competitions. Triggers are thus the added motivation created by these
rewards.

Seed
is platform because it both allows one to contribute content – tips on growing,
photos of grown plants for contests, etc – and also because it allows companies
to utilize it either to recruit new people with these skills or to train
employees using custom or proprietary seed modules. Of course, this is also a
product people use to learn gardening and landscaping skills.

[1]
https://www.landscapeprofessionals.org/nalp/media/landscape-industry-statistics.aspx

[2]
https://www.landscapeprofessionals.org/nalp/nalp/about/landscape-industry.aspx

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