Blake Patterson’s first time pitching his business Landscape Direct was at the Velocity Pitch Competition last fall. Now, the online plant distributor has expanded into the U.S. market, selling plants through a distributor in Chicago to customers in Illinois and Wisconsin.  

“One of the reasons we started eyeing the U.S. market was through the Velocity Pitch Competition,” recalls Patterson (BAFM ‘22), co-founder of Landscape Direct. “Over the course of the pitch competition and the practice leading up to the finals, our eyes were opened to the potential of expanding the business up to different markets outside of Canada.” 

As a Faculty of Arts student in the Accounting and Financial Management program, Patterson tapped into the University of Waterloo’s entrepreneurship resources. When campus reopened after the pandemic, Landscape Direct applied for the Velocity Pitch Competition to gain insight into the startup world. 

“How we communicated our business evolved drastically between when we submitted the application to the finals event,” Patterson says. “After getting through the semi-finals, there was a pitch day at Velocity downtown Kitchener where we got advice from people who have deep startup experience and we listened to their valuable knowledge.”  

Before graduating, Patterson also completed an Enterprise co-op term through the Faculty of Engineering's Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business. He also took four undergraduate courses from the Conrad School.

“I wish I had known sooner about all the entrepreneurship resources at Waterloo, it would have made things easier at the start,” Patterson says.  

Landscape Direct was co-founded in 2020 by Patterson, his brother Evan and Conner Krofchick. The trio started shipping out of their trucks and driving to customers across the province. But even in the beginning, their goal was to take it big.  

Since joining Velocity’s incubator program, the company has grown 40 per cent in sales and has hired a full-time software developer to continually refine their boxing and shipping methods to best serve the client and protect the plants. Next year, they plan to continue to grow their staff and expand service areas with distribution centres on the West Coast and exporting licenses to ship directly to the U.S. from their Caledon, Ontario, home base.  

“With big plans in place to grow the business even further, receiving support from Velocity, in particular from advisors, allows us to take a step back out of operations and into business development,” Patterson says. “We have ambitious goals but with the advisory and access to the Velocity community we can better understand our main points, what’s stopping us and gain exposure to how successful ventures operate.”