Who would think we needed an app for lawn care?

Brittany Meiling
San Diego Union-Tribune
Described by many as “the Uber of lawn care,” Lawn Love is used to find, book and pay yard workers online.

After interviewing enough tech startups in San Diego, a pattern has emerged around the male founder archetype. He is usually the graduate of a prestigious university, a confident and charismatic speaker and a devoted networker.

Jeremy Yamaguchi, the founder of fast-growing tech startup Lawn Love, is an exception. Self-educated and a bit of a loner, the nervous but brilliant entrepreneur has built a software company that grew to employ 100 people after only four years in existence. His startup has growth statistics (shared privately) that put it in league with the fastest-growing tech companies in the city.

Described by many as “the Uber of lawn care,” Lawn Love is used to find, book and pay yard workers online. In the years after Uber’s massive growth, companies like Lawn Love gushed into the market — all trying to replicate the tech giant’s success in different industries. The wave of Uberlike tech startups became known as the “Uber of X” trend, and most companies fizzled out within months of launching.

But Yamaguchi’s startup caught fire. Now available in 38 states and 120 cities — including Detroit — Lawn Love now offers services such as snow shoveling and Christmas light installation.

Despite the company’s growth, Yamaguchi, 31, has largely stayed out of the spotlight in San Diego’s tech scene.

“In the early days especially, most networking is a waste of time,” Yamaguchi said. “Spend that time in a garage with your head down writing code.”

It’s not that Yamaguchi doesn’t value a supportive network and community. But he believes that building a good product should be the No. 1 focus for any founder.

The son of missionaries, Yamaguchi was raised in Tokyo and moved all over the world throughout his youth, from Rwanda and Tanzania to the Philippines and Myanmar. Home schooled from kindergarten to high school, he skipped college. He immigrated to the U.S. when he was 16, landing in San Diego to live with his father.

Yamaguchi taught himself how to design and write code, and opened a digital agency doing web development, app development and branding. Then in 2009, he launched his second venture — a startup called Golden Shine (the Uber of maid service), which was sold to a private equity search fund in 2013. A year later, Lawn Love was born.