GreenPal CEO Gene Caballero shares a fantastic story of a founder duo bootstrapping with a paycheck, now growing from $5M to $15M in one year, with a virtual team of freelancers. Your classic 21st century internet business. No outside financing whatsoever!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s
start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you
born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Gene Caballero: I was born in
Lima, Peru. My dad’s side of the family are all entrepreneurs. My grandfather
had his own propeller business. We made propellers for boats. My dad
actually has that business now. I’m the black sheep. I’ve gone into the
technology side as opposed to the manufacturing of propellers.
raised in Nashville, Tennessee and went to college in Middle Tennessee State
University. I also got my Master’s at MTSU. I started in the corporate world. I
was in technology sales for 10 years until the opportunity for GreenPal came.
Up until then, I was looking for a way to do my own thing. Some friends were
chatting about different ways to make money and the pain points.
lot of young entrepreneurial kids who mowed lawns for a living at some point in
their life. We knew that there was a possible business in that industry. It’s
been pen and paper. It has been a cash business. When we first started in 2012,
that was the time when Lyft and Airbnb were gaining traction on the West Coast.
If people were going to summon a stranger to come and pick them up and drop
them off, at some point they would sign on lawn care. That’s the reason we
Sramana Mitra: When
did you start GreenPal?
Gene Caballero: We officially
launched it in April of 2012.
Sramana Mitra: What
was going on around you at that time?
Gene Caballero: I was just
immersed in my day-to-day corporate life. One of my childhood friends who had
started a landscaping company grew that to be one of the largest in the area.
He was talking about pain points that he had with his business. He wanted to
grow faster but couldn’t. It was all word of mouth or traditional advertising.
He explained the pain points of all that to me.
I had heard
of Airbnb and Uber just because I was in the tech side of things. I was privy
to new startups that are hot because my territory was on the West Coast. We put
our heads together and knew that there had to be a better way for a homeowner
to find a landscaping professional and also for a better platform to ensure
that landscaping professionals can run their business more efficiently. After a
few weeks of conversation, that’s when we decided to go for it and put it all