Online travel industry identity Richard Eastes has moved to greener pastures, literally, after going on an “entrepreneurial exploration” lasting 12 months.
Eastes, who with brother David grew the VroomVroomVroom car rental website into the Australian market leader, is now developing a new business he hopes will become the Uber of lawn mowing.
He says Green Socks is “like a crowd sourced lawn mowing website” that connects lawn mowers with lawns instead of cars with drivers.
For Richard it’s the latest step in an interesting journey that started when he, majority owner Peter Thornton and David acquired Vroom from online car rental pioneer Steve Sherlock over the period of 2003-2006.
Together, they set about building the business with modest expectations.
“I would have been happy to get 100 bookings a day or just make a living from it,” says Richard.
“Over the first few years bookings kept doubling and before we knew it we were doing a thousand a day.”
The company dynamic changed as it grew and Richard, who describes himself more as a startup guy, felt it was time to let someone else run the business.
“It became a bigger company and needed a more corporate structure and that’s not one of my strengths,” he says.
“I was doing the business a disservice and knew people were out there who could do a better job.”
So he decided to step aside, handing over to Managing Director Mike Boyd in 2013.
Richard kept a minority stake in the company, majority owned by UK based Peter Thornton, and embarked on a journey to find something new.
“I went on an entrepreneurial exploration exercise,” he says. “My goal was to come up with 30 ideas and rate each one.
“Some I explored deeply while others didn’t even make the cut.
“Things started coming together when someone approached me for advice on an idea that I’d already had.”
That person was Andrea Martins, now a partner in Green Socks.
Their goal is to become #1 and overtake market leader Jim’s Mowing, where Richard says franchises cost from $30,000 to $300,000 “last time I looked”.
“I want to get to 10,000 customers a month and be the most popular lawn mowing business in Australia,” says Richard.
But there’s a long way to go.
“Sixty three mowing people have signed up and we’ve had 39 jobs as of today in the first six weeks.
“Obviously I’d like more but for me it feels like proof of concept.”
The business model is a simple clip the ticket on all transactions with Greensocks acting as the banker, receiving monies from customers and paying the lawn mowers within 24 hours minus 20%.
“We help people make money.” he says.