Office Hours: we're the co-founders of Neverland, backed by Y Combinator, Maveron, and Obvious. Previously, we led engineering at Uber and founded Lunchclub.Featured

Hi everyone! We're Vera Kutsenko and Hayley Leibson, the co-founders of Neverland. Neverland (Y Combinator W21) is the first online home garden and lawn marketplace. Our app takes the guesswork and confusion out of day-to-day plant and garden care. Our mission is to make nature accessible to all. The company is backed by awesome folks including: Kindred Ventures, Obvious Ventures, Maveron, Kimbal Musk, 24KGoldn, former CPO of Uber, founder & CTO of Dropbox, and more.

Vera previously co-founded Beehyve, an online community that connects Computer Science students from around the world. Before diving into startups, she was a software engineer at Facebook and Uber where she led the launch of a mobile app all over South East Asia. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Computer Science from Cornell University. In her spare time, she’s interested in mental and alternative health, quantum physics, hiking & nature, running, and of course plants & gardening.

Hayley was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 2020 for Consumer Technology and one of "15 Entrepreneurs Under 30 to Watch Out For" by Entrepreneur. Previously, Hayley cofounded Lunchclub, the world's first AI superconnector backed by a16z, Lightspeed, and more with a $100+ million valuation.

Ask us anything about leading teams, founding companies, growing communities, and more!

Thanks so much for joining us @Hayley!Elphas – please ask @Hayley your questions before Friday, July 23rd. @Hayley may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Thanks @ElphaStaff, @jessicali, and @cadran for having us! @verakutsenko and I are excited to answer everyone's questions this week. Also, our team is growing fast (pun intended!) 🌱If you are interested in plants, gardening, & our mission to make nature accessible to all—we'd love to chat! Please DM us & check out our open roles here:
Hi @Hayley, I would love to know more about your marketing strategies within your previous startups and what worked well enough for you to apply to Neverland. There isn't a one size fits all marketing strategy for any company, but I'm curious for you to share as much as you feel comfortable with. The wins you saw, the approaches that worked, and the overall feeling of how you move from a go-to-market thought process to expansion and growth. Thank you!
Thanks for your question @KristinaM! Marketing strategy/distribution are very company dependent, but here are a few resources I've found helpful in figuring out what works for my target audience & creating scalable playbooks: (1) The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers by Douglas Atkin (; (2) The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you by Rob Fitzpatrick (; (3) Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It by April Dunford (
Hi Hayley! What an incredible track record. Your career is beyond inspiring. I am a non-tech co-founder of a tech startup and we are currently in the process of looking for our first in-house engineering hire. Our current tech needs are being fulfilled by an offshore team but we would like an in-house person to take most of the laboring oar (with potential for CTO/equity).We're looking for young, innovative talent.Where do you recommend looking for someone (LinkedIn has not been helpful) and what are the key criteria to look for (other than them being fluent with our framework). Thank you very much!
Thanks for your extremely kind words @katya82! I would consider broadening your scope beyond just young folks--innovative talent can be any age! Below are some criteria we look for, and how we've found folks to join our team. Criteria we look for: (1) communication skills, (2) empathy, (3) values and practices inclusivity, (4) holds our company core values. To find the person, I would recommend: (1) reaching out to folks outside of your network in communities like Elpha, (2) asking the best people you know/or don't know who do that job to recommend other folks, (3) asking your investors to recommend folks, and (3) posting the opportunity + asking folks who are passionate about your mission to share with others via social media.
Hi @HayleyI am a founder who became an entrepreneur only because I developed a solution for a problem in my field (education). I have no startup or business knowledge, and I still work a full time job in my field (I have to pay for those student loans). I sought help from a mentor who is a Y-Combinator alum in the area, and he basically told me he was going to reverse engineer my product because he wants it for his suite of products. How do I find the time and money to move my product (web application) from prototype to production? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
Hi @JenniferSallee--It depends on what type of business you're trying to build and what route you want to go in terms of commitment/financing. Is this a company you're willing to quit your full-time role to start? Are you comfortable with the financial risk personally? Do you want to bootstrap your business, take on debt, or raise funding? Without knowing more about what you're building, I'd recommend reading the following to help you make those decisions for yourself: (1) Supermaker: Crafting Business on Your Own Terms by @JaimeSchmidt (; (2) Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston (; and Backable by Suneel Gupta ( I hope you find these resources helpful!
Hi Hayley, thanks for being willing to share your knowledge with us! I’m curious, what has your experience been like looking for co-founders? Are there any tips or warnings you’d like to pass along?
Of course and thanks for your Q @lexiyan! A few resources: Y Combinator recently launched a co-founder matching program: I think Gloria Lin's 50 questions to explore with a potential co-founder is great: If you meet folks quickly this way that might be a potential fit, I would work with them on a contract basis for at least 3-6 months before officially becoming co-founders.However, I believe the best co-founder relationships end up being with someone you deeply trust and have known for years prior to starting a company together. If the timing is right for the company you're starting now, and you don't have anyone that you've known for years and want to bring onboard, I would recommend being a solo founder.
@Hayley Good to connect with you! I love hearing of your story here. I was going to Lunchclubs pre-pandemic! I am in a similar place and learning about which investors are women-run company supportive. We're launching a larger version of our company and considering the investment route! I'd love to hear more about your fundraising journey. Cheers, Kelsey
@kelseymarie great to connect with you as well and thanks for your kind note! That's really exciting. Happy to chat with you offline if you're looking for advice more specific to your company. The first thing I would do is look at the companies a specific investor has backed, and see what their portfolio looks like today- have they invested in minorities and women? I'd also look at the firm's team and how inclusive/diverse of a team they've created.The best way to learn which investors are most inclusive/supportive of D&I and great to work with is to get in touch with founders they've backed who've (1) companies have performed extremely well and (2) companies who've failed and ask what it was like to work with that person in those two scenarios.
Hey Hayley, thanks for joining! Vlad (Lunchclub) at one point had mentioned how we should meet for the work you were doing there and your background in working with women in tech. It's incredible to see that you're now at a new venture at Neverland (I'm also a plant mom 🪴haha).I'm curious, as much as you're comfortable sharing, how did you go about thinking when it's time to move on to cofound another company?
Thank you so much @teresaman for your kind words and it's wonderful to hear you're a plant mom! 🪴Absolutely. The timing really aligned perfectly—the company was doing extremely well and I felt comfortable leaving my day-to-day role to work with my best friend Vera and create Neverland together. It's been an incredible journey, and I am so grateful each and every day to get to work with her.