In the early 2010s, it seemed like a new app claiming to be the next big social media platform would pop up every few months or so. Yik Yak, Google Plus, Vine (RIP, gone too soon), the list goes on and on. Naturally, I approach any new app that claims to be the TikTok of X or the Instagram of Y with a certain degree of skepticism. But if a nascent social media platform is going to have any success, it either has to have incredibly wide-ranging appeal... or it has to be extremely niche. PlantLife has gone the niche route.
The new social media app is, as you can guess, geared towards plants and plant-lovers. PlantLife was founded by a trio of figures that have had experience creating interactive platforms for some of the world’s biggest brands. The venture is helmed by Leslie Mullins, Taylor Vignalli, and Lane Pappas. Mullins was formerly a brand marketing and consumer experience design leader at Nike, while Vignalli has been a UX designer at places like Apple and R/GA. Meanwhile, Pappas founded Gardenista, an architectural landscaping and design firm servicing the Bay Area.
Upon downloading the app and setting up an account, users begin by taking photos of each of their plants. After this step, they have to provide information regarding each plant’s name, species, age, and a short description. While the app has yet to implement photo-identification technology, people can manually search for their plants in the existing database. Securing a match for your plant will give you an accompanying sheet of care instructions.
Plantfluencers — Mullins is looking beyond a platform that simply provides information for users, she wants to foster a community within PlantLife that will allow people to find a group or clique, based on their specific interests. The company has already begun working with a number of “plantfluencers” across Instagram and Tik Tok, some of whom will be on the service at launch. These people will be able to set up their own e-commerce stores and become go-to figures on specific topics.
Another goal of the company is to reduce the digital divide that exists in the plant industry, as the options for acquiring plants online are still limited (we have some suggestions, though). Accordingly, small businesses will be brought into the fold to advertise their wares.
“There are a lot of these small nurseries out there that don’t have e-commerce,” says Mullins. “So we want to make sure we’re also using [PlantLife] as a component to reduce the digital divide within this industry.” Individuals on the app can also buy and trade plants with each other, which will be a crucial step for community-building.
Ultimately, PlantLife seeks to generate $189 million in revenue following a five year growth period. Being a newcomer in the space with influencers on board and an experienced team could certainly help it reach that. Whether or not we need a social media platform for plants is another question entirely.