Exec turns farmer with Akshaya Home Farms, delivers produce at doorstep
Suresh Iyer has worked in the corporate world for more than a decade in India and abroad. All this while, he harboured a desire to turn towards farming. “I was working in the IT Industry but was always drawn to the idea of owning a farm,” says Suresh. Following his heart, he eventually decided to get some land in Ksheerasagar Village in Andhra Pradesh and started a farm. The land was big enough and he came up with the concept of ‘Farm to Home’ to deliver the produce directly to customers.
A warehouse was setup in Secunderabad and this is how Akshaya Home Farms came into existence on December 15, 2012. Working with the domain name of myhomefarms.in, Suresh was optimistic about the idea which allowed him to combine his passion with business. There are many online grocery shops and India has awakened to the idea of buying vegetables online, but MyHomeFarms is probably the only one which grows its own produce. Scale is surely a hurdle when it comes to the business model but the joy of farming compensates for that at the moment, according to Suresh.
MyHomeFarms works on a weekly model and has three baskets -- regular, medium and custom -- to choose from. The regular basket comes at INR 1400 with 24 varieites of vegetables. “Our customer care executive calls the customer two days in advance to confirm the order and then the vegetables are shipped,” says Suresh about his supply chain. There are about six people working on the farm and six more at the warehouse to ensure that customers get the delivery on time. More than 300 customers order a basket regularly at the moment. “My initial assumption was that all my friends would start ordering and news would spread from there but that has not happened,” says Suresh. He still needs to do four times the orders he has on a monthly basis to break even.
Perhaps the fact that customers cannot choose less quantity than what is offered at present could be one of the reasons keeping them away. Suresh has also taken the franchisee route with Mysore as their next destination. “The Mysore team has been operating for a month now and is slowly getting traction,” says Suresh. The company is also in the process of getting a strategic investor on board who will help them streamline processes. “On the way if a bigger player like Reliance Fresh finds us interesting, we're open to possibilities. Meanwhile, the intention is to keep farming and keep growing,” adds Suresh.