The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced that CIT GAP Funds, the direct investment program of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA) Investment Division, has invested in Centreville, Va.-based BloomCatch. BloomCatch is a versatile mobile plant identification app that combines cutting edge machine learning with live human experiences to connect plant parents to plant experts and local retailers. BloomCatch will use this funding to expand marketing efforts to increase awareness and gain traction, with initial efforts focused in Virginia.
Today’s apps for horticultural expertise are limited in terms of their capabilities. Many of these apps only offer image recognition coupled with machine learning or crowdsourced identification, which is good for basic plant identification, but has the potential for high errors. BloomCatch goes above and beyond by leveraging plant recognition technology in a user-friendly package to connect plant parents with plant experts and local retailers creating a unique shopping experience for each user. Plants are essential in many ways, providing nourishment, medicine, and even fuel which is why BloomCatch’s goal is to help its users gain the confidence needed to take care of their plant babies and support local plant shops.
“A few years ago, I was walking through the marsh with my kids and was curious about what plants we were looking at. I downloaded several apps to try and help, but none of them really worked well. As a result, I decided to build my own app,” said Ray Magee, President and CEO of BloomCatch. “BloomCatch was born out of a desire to deliver accurate, horticultural expertise to plant lovers looking to grow healthy plants and find the best local deals around for them. Whether you’re an avid plant grower or on a walk with curious kids, BloomCatch is here to help. We are excited to have the support of CIT GAP Funds and look forward to our next phase of growth.”
BloomCatch combines cutting edge machine learning with live human expertise. For one low monthly subscription fee, users get access to BloomCatch’s extensive database and unlimited questions from the startup’s plant experts. Users take a photo of the desired plant and in seconds the app can tell them what the plant is and where to find it at local retailers. Additionally, by signing up, users join a community of local garden retailers, plant lovers, plant conscious clubs, and other environmental groups that share the same passion for plants. The startup is also dedicated to supporting organizations that make conservation, environmental education, and sustainability a priority. Ten percent of every user subscription that BloomCatch earns goes to a local charity of choice that aligns with this philosophy.
“The BloomCatch team has recognized that plant lovers desire a more intuitive and interactive app for identifying their favorite plants, and even where to find them for purchase, in order to build more unique and sustainable gardens. Ray’s unique background in computer science and business administration, as well as his previous experience at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, makes him a well-rounded founder who is primed to lead BloomCatch,” said Tom Weithman, Managing Director of CIT GAP Funds. “Not only is this company helping plant lovers learn more about their favorite plants, but we are pleased to have CIT GAP Funds portfolio companies dedicated to supporting organizations that prioritize conservation, environmental education, and sustainability. CIT is happy to be a part of their journey and look forward to following them as they continue to grow and make a positive impact on the industry.”