Fifi’s Founders: A Day in the Life with Jess Saumarez

14 February 2020 

Last week we had the pleasure of sitting down with Jess Saumarez, co-founder at Hedira, a free-to-download app that sends smart and tailored reminders to help you care for your indoor plants.

The timing couldn’t have been better. Having built and launched their prototype in just four weeks, Jess and her co-founder have since seen 2,500 plants uploaded to their platform in little under two months.

Jess was kind enough to take some time out from fundraising to discuss a typical day in her life and the big growth plans she has for the business in 2020.

What are the three things you need to start your day off right?

My brain normally activates between 10 and 11 in the evening. Unfortunately, society doesn’t favour the night owl, so I’ve had to adapt.

I typically get up between 7.00am and 7.30am, but it’s not usually a good idea to talk to me until I’ve had my first cup of tea. Beyond the caffeine hit, a nice sunny day and good songs help. I normally put music on as soon as I get up.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office?

I have a second cup of tea and redo my to do list, restructuring it around the most important tasks for the day. I really try and make sure I’ve got this done before heading to my emails. I know as soon as I open my inbox it’s game over.

I’m constantly looking for opportunities so if I read somewhere that somebody is doing something on plant wellbeing, I’m like let’s jump on this.

Much of the content in the plant space is aimed at the older generation. You’ve got things like the Royal Horticultural Society, which is great but isn’t really geared towards a younger audience.

There are several businesses looking to connect with a similar demographic to us. One of which is Patch, a plant delivery business operating in London and Paris. It’s always interesting to read their newsletter and see what they’re up to.

What do you do for lunch?

I grew up in France where two-hour lunches are the norm. While I don’t do this on a typical workday, I do think it’s important to have regular breaks. I normally get up every hour or so to have a walk around and that’s alright. It doesn’t mean I’m not working and personally I find it improves productivity.

In the startup world I think there can be an unhealthy culture of working through lunch and to constantly be seen to be working hard. And I get it we’re all busy, but I don’t feel like I need or want that badge of honour.

I work long hours, but I knew this was something I was going to have to do when setting up Hedira. It’s not a rhythm I’m planning to keep, but something that’s necessary while I’m growing the business. I’m not intending to do it forever.

What’s your favourite part of a typical day?

With Hedira we’re at such an early stage that any customer usage is exciting and hugely valuable in helping us shape the direction of the app.

I was sending research questions to new customers recently assuming that they were in the Bristol and Bath area. I’m asking if I can take them for a coffee and they’re saying you can, but I’m based in Arizona in the US. Things like that are great.

We’ve also just passed 2,500 plants registered in under two months, we had a target in mind and have totally surpassed it – it’s more than double what we were aiming for, which is crazy. We’ve had people contacting us from Australia too, asking when the app is going to launch there.

How do you switch off and unwind at the end of the day?

To be honest where we are with fundraising currently, we’re always looking for networking opportunities and for the chance to meet potential investors from across the South West. For the last couple of months, I’ve had an event or meetup every evening. As a result, I’m trying to keep my weekends free for relaxing.