OUR STORY

My name is Justin Connell and I’m the inventor of Garden on Wheelz™ and founder of LifeCycle Gardens.

 

In December 2011, I was living my dream of playing collegiate basketball at Santa Barbara City College. My life was on track, until one fateful day during practice when I cracked vertebrae in my back and bulged two discs. For three weeks, I ignored the excruciating pain and continued to play the game I love.  A MRI confirmed my biggest fear, I was out for the season and my basketball career was jeopardized. I had no choice but to wear a full back brace, and move home with my parents in Santa Rosa, California for rehabilitation.

 

I was devastated and depressed.  At first, self-pity and anger overwhelmed me, but I quickly realized – It's not what happens to you in life. It’s how you respond to it.  This was a turning point.  I changed my outlook and found a new outlet for my boundless energy and passion.

 

Student Creates Mobile
Garden Project Worth
$1Million
Mobile Garden Project
Young entrepreneur
Creates Mobile Garden for
Elderly OR Apartment dwellers
Mobile Garden Prototype
Early prototypes in the garage.

I threw myself full force into innovating and developing a concept that I had designed for the college’s “Enterprise Launch” competition that November.  Inspired by a burning desire to be successful and help people in the process, the birth of Garden on Wheelz began with building wooden prototypes with my parents’ help in our garage. I took it out to our local farmers’ markets (check out this video) and it was exciting to see the interest. I entered my new and improved product into SBCC's 2012 New Venture Challenge, earning 1st place and a $4000 grant.

 

With some traction now behind me, I set out to find a way to make my vision of a mass producible version of Garden on Wheelz a reality. As I went through this process, I realized how many people this product could help – those in assisted living homes, kids at schools to learn about their food source, people with bad backs/knees or physical disabilities, folks who live in places with limited amounts of space or sunlight, and anyone looking to have a conveniently-located vegetable or herb garden.



This motivated me to do whatever it would take to bring my product to market.  One day, I attached a U-Haul to my family's Prius and drove from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles (stopping at Assisted Living Homes on the way) to try out for "Shark Tank". That night, I slept on a street corner to keep my spot in a line of thousands of people.

 

I auditioned and made it through to the next round where I had to produce a five minute product video. I was not selected for the show. However, this became a blessing in disguise.  As part of my newfound, upbeat manta, I was able to find other investors, pursue my dream, and help people in the process.

Mobile Garden First Sale
Justin’s first sale with his back brace still on.
Adjustable Mobile Garden
Young Entrepreneur creates mobile garden for elderly, school children, or apartment dwellers.

The road I’ve traveled has not been easy, but I am stronger for it.  I am confident and hopeful that my products will continue to improve people’s lives. 

 

The company’s mission is to leave the Earth a better place then we found it.  We are committed to promoting the connection between people and their food source, the understanding of the effect of good nutrition on our bodies, and sustainable gardening on our environment, one patio at a time.

 

I hope you enjoy my Gardens on Wheelz.  If you have any questions or feedback, please send me a note.

–      Justin Connell, CEO & Founder