CYstarters Spotlight: Plant Nannies

By Lindsey Murray | ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

CYstarters Spotlight: A 15-part series highlighting student entrepreneurs pursuing their business ventures as part of the CYstarters 2023 summer cohort. Through this program, students have the unique opportunity to prioritize the development of their own startup or business idea. Each individual receives $6,500 and access to resources such as mentorship, networking opportunities, and educational sessions on entrepreneurship and business startup.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, people across the world developed different coping mechanisms to get through uncertain times. Some adopted pets, and everyone else adopted house plants. The latter we like to refer to as “pandemic plant parents.”

Blake Price is a true pandemic plant parent, with 75 house plants of her own, and 20 more that are waiting to be potted. She cares for all of her beloved plants within the confines of a one-bedroom apartment. Her love for house plants is unwavering and will long outlast the global lockdown.

Putting down roots at ISU

Price (21) is a fifth-year senior at Iowa State University and is majoring in agricultural studies with a minor in horticulture. Initially, she chose ISU for the world-renowned College of Veterinary Medicine and highly developed animal science programs. While on the animal science pre-med track, Price worked at the ISU dairy farm and realized almost immediately that she was not interested in working with farm animals.

Shortly thereafter, she transitioned into agricultural studies. As she sat in a required horticulture course for her major, it all finally clicked. “Everything just made sense after that,” Price said. Plants simply made sense to her, and as her passion for horticulture grew, so did her plant collection.

Planting the seed of entrepreneurship

When it comes to business, Price has always been a hustler. At the age of 14, she managed a concession stand at the Newton High School softball field. From hiring employees to buying the necessary appliances and snacks for day-to-day operations, she did it all. Price is no stranger to entrepreneurship. So, when she was asked to develop a business idea in her Agricultural Entrepreneurship course with Professor Kevin Kimle, she stepped up to the plate.

Price understood that the first step in developing a business idea was to identify a problem. One that many pandemic plant parents face is pest-infested plants. When searching the internet for a solution to her own plant ailment, she was faced with an overwhelming amount of information. Googling one symptom of a sick plant produced results for 20 potential diseases, and 40 remedies that could be the cure. Price knew she couldn’t be alone in the struggle to diagnose her unhealthy house plants.

Her solution was to utilize her own expertise in horticulture to simplify plant care for others. She created a business called Plant Nannies with the goal of providing quality plant care resources and services to the community. Price wanted to combine her practical skills with her knowledge of horticulture to develop a company “rooted in quality care.” Plant Nannies provides convenient plant care services, so that anyone at any level can have beautiful plants. Price offers a variety of services from pest control, plant rehab, and vacation care to full-scale interior landscaping and plant design.

Price presented this idea in her Agricultural Entrepreneurship course and won the pitch contest. But she didn’t want to stop there. She heard about the CYstarters program from Kevin Kimle as well as CYstarters alum, Cam Schafer (founder of Spock’s Sanctuary). She knew this was the next step toward turning her idea into a reality. After a competitive application process, Price was selected to be a part of the 2023 summer cohort. “I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, but I just didn’t have the right business to do it with, until now,” Price said with excitement about the opportunity to pursue her business full-time, with funding provided through the program.

The first fruits of business

Price has found it challenging with a service-based business to find and retain local customers. The CYstarters educational sessions have helped her to look at this problem differently. One session focusing on customer discovery led her to a better understanding of her ideal client. She is now more equipped to focus her time and efforts on the right people. Price has seen a rise in customer retention and has grown her network significantly by building partnerships with local businesses. Price gave a shoutout to Jenny Pollard (local business owner of Life Distilled) for utilizing her plant care services and supporting the entrepreneurial community as a whole.

In June, Price promoted her plant care services at a local event put on by The Plant Dealer, a plant store located in Clive, Iowa.

The long-term goal for Plant Nannies is to be the Uber of plant care. Price hopes to grow the business into a two-sided market where she can personally train a network of “plant nannies” to serve customers needing plant care assistance. She envisions an app that connects plant nannies with customers all over the world.

As the end of the CYstarters summer program draws near, Price wishes it never had to end. She was blown away by the network of female entrepreneurs she has connected with at ISU. She enthusiastically encouraged other women to consider entrepreneurship and CYstarters specifically. Price, being a woman who needed a little encouragement herself, shared a piece of advice to female entrepreneurs,

The support for our student entrepreneurs doesn’t end with the CYstarters program. Follow Plant Nannies on Instagram and Facebook. Be sure to utilize Blake’s expert plant care services by contacting, or stop by one of her pop-up events this fall to say hi and ask the expert about all things plant care.