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Nurturing Green: A Green Gifting Retail Store Startup & Their 'Gift A Plant' Campaign

Tuesday December 06, 2011 , 7 min Read

Nurturing Green - Annu Grover - Green Gifting - Gift a plant

Nurturing Green is a chain of green retail stores in high streets and malls established with the primary motive of bringing people closer to the environment. Believing in the mantra to "Nurture Green" they have brought up the concept of "Gift a Plant". YourStory caught up with the young entrepreneur, Annu Grover, to learn more about his venture.Your slogan is “gift a plant”. Please give us a short intro into your business of “Nurturing Green” and the products.

“Gift A Plant” is the tagline promoting the concept of gifting real, live Green Plants instead of flowers and other monotonous gifts on various occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and many other occasions of joy and sorrow in our life. We bond people with this special and unique gift which grows with time.

Nurturing Green brings special, unique theme based plants for gifting, home décor, gardening, landscaping and corporate gifting. With range starting from INR 100 only, we have special theme based plants like stress-buster plants for corporates, Zodiac plants for birthdays and many exotic bonsais from across the world.

How did this idea come up and why did you decide to launch Nurture Green and not any other?

While I was in Austria, one of my Croatian friends gifted me a Zodiac Plant on my birthday and that was the moment it clicked to me that the idea of Green Gifting in the market like India can do wonders if implemented well. It is not a rocket science idea and Google has more than 192,000,000 searches for it. But it’s all about implementation. For any idea, I feel it’s not the idea but the team and implementation which can do wonders to it. I initially started with EYEC-Empowerment of Youth for Environment Conservation, a sec 25 Non-profit organization, but soon shifted to Nurture Green model because of legal hassles and barriers coming for expansion. We will soon start new product line to cater to all the needs of people for Décor and Gifting.

Why plants instead of flowers or any other gifts?

What could be a better substitute to plants that not only show that you care but also grows with time. It not only helps built a special bonding with environment but also builds your relationship with your close ones every time they water the plant. Plants have innumerable benefits which outcasts any other Gift.

Nurturing Green - Gift a plant - plant photos

You are running Nurturing Green for about two years now. How was the journey so far? What is the state of the business right now?

We will be completing our second year in March. The journey has been enriching and fulfilling with lots of ups and down. We have learned a lot over time. Have made so many innovation and done lot of R&D in this field and now are bringing some of the most exotic varieties of plants so that through gifting they are preserved and people know about them.

In August, we raised our first round of funding of half a million dollar from I3 consulting and now are moving ahead with our expansion plans. We sell approximately 4000 plants every month. We plan to have 12 stores by end of this financial and then start franchisee. This year revenue will touch INR 20 million as we move ahead with more corporate opting for Green Gifting and Green Décor.

What is your business and distribution model?

We have 3 major sales distribution channels:

B2B: Dealing with corporates for corporate gifting, green décor, marketing and promotional tool, celebrating green birthdays of employees and also for green conferences.

B2C: Directly dealing with individuals through our retail outlets in malls and high streets across NCR where people can buy gifts and also for their home décor.

Online model: We have started the e-commerce recently where people can buy gifts directly through websites

We are planning the franchise-model now. We plan to franchisee by end of this financial year. We have join hands with Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop and few other retailers and do shop in shop there.

You are quite active on social media. How important are Facebook, Twitter, Blogs for offline businesses like yours?

I maintain my profile on FB and LinkedIn and feel social media as a very strong tool of brand building. Currently we are exploiting ways to use them also for selling our products. We are very optimistic about e-commerce and social media remains a very important focus for interacting with audience and making a strong bond with them.

What challenges do you face as a small retails start-up?

Initially in the ideation and start-up phase the challenges were to sustain and make it a sustainable model. But over the period of time, our major challenge is to grow along with the size of the market and the opportunities coming our way. Today my major challenges are growth and to get good people for our fast growing team. We need people who are self motivated and go getters and can adjust fast.

What other activities are you involved in apart from retailing?

My other company is EYEC-Empowerment of Youth for Environment Conservation which is a sec 25 Nonprofit organization. Its vision is to make the youth aware about environment sustainability and bring a positive change into the society. In Nurturing Green, all the jute pots are made in Kolkata by the rural women whom we are sustaining through our Gift a Plant. For every pot we sell, Rs 10 goes to the rural women upliftment. We have done more than a dozen events promoting the concept of environment sustainability. With Tree Huggers, Smiles, Take a Pledge and many other programs we are trying to build an eco-system for a better future.

Do you see yourself as a social or green entrepreneurship or is it plain-vanilla business for you?

I would say I am 3 in 1. When I started, I wanted to be a social entrepreneur but soon realized that if it’s not sustainable, it’s not worth it. So I went on to create a model which is sustainable and at the same time brings some positive impact into the society which fulfilled my dream of being a Green Entrepreneur and also a start specialist. Though I am very much attached to NG but will not hesitate if I have to share it to make it grow bigger.

Are you looking for franchisees? Let us know about your expansion plans.

Yes we are in the process of making a Franchisee model. With more than 30+ franchisees for our brand, we now have a strong brand recall across India. We were surprised to see these queries from down south Chennai to Chandigarh. We plan to take it pan India in next few years. Currently we want to be only in NCR. Once we have spread across NCR we will start with Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Chandigarh and then go to other places.

After an MBA, how hard was it to resist the fat pay checks and startup instead?

Ahhh, it was very hard actually. From 4 lakh pm to 2k pm survival is a tough and daunting task. But I think it was a necessary medicine which taught me lot of things in life. I had a huge opportunity cost and that’s why I worked hard by the days and even harder in nights. I loved the initial phase where everything was unstable and challenging which got the best out of me. It got me some very special relationships in my life as well.

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- Wolfgang Bergthaler