This is a subscriber-only article. Join Entrepreneur+ today for access

Learn More

Already have an account?

Sign in
Entrepreneur Plus - Short White
For Subscribers

Idea for an Organic Potting Soil Business Hits Pay Dirt Mark Highland's Organic Mechanics is blooming.

By Margaret Littman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Mark Highland didn't need to dig up a lot of cash to start Organic Mechanics Soil Company: just about $400,000, with an expected payout within 10 years. But potential investors always asked the same question: "Can you really make money on dirt?"

"They were not gardeners and they just didn't understand," Highland says of his 2006 investor search. At that time the market for U.S. specialty soils was $390 million, and in 2010 the entire U.S. garden market (plants, soils, supplies and tools) was worth $100 billion. Behemoth brand ScottsMiracle-Gro was (and still is) the category leader, but there wasn't an organic alternative available on any sort of scale. Highland, who holds a master's degree in public horticulture with an emphasis on compost and soil science, wanted to develop an environmentally sustainable potting mix.

"My goal was to offer alternatives to what has been sold for the last 50 years," Highland says. So he did "what a lot of entrepreneurs do: worked all day on the company and worked at night waiting tables and turned to friends and family as investors."

The rest of this article is locked.

Join Entrepreneur+ today for access.

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Sign In