Myna Batavia turns hobby into a lucrative venture with Green Carpet
If you have travelled through the new airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and have admired the lovely plants and green landscape within the airport premises, then you have already seen Green Carpet in action.
Green Carpet is a venture that offers gardening solutions comprising pots, planters, garden artifacts, garden furniture and garden accessories.
For Myna Batavia, Founder of Green Carpet, the motivation to startup was simply to stay at home with her newborn child. Before starting Green Carpet, Myna ran a HR firm, but all the travel required in that field made her look at other options. Before Green Carpet was launched formally, Myna was helping her friends with their garden and landscaping needs. Though she has never trained as a horticulturist or landscape designer, Myna’s gardening enthusiast family helped give her a closer view of the space.
When she started in 2002, she was providing consultancy services, and helping people setup up gardens and landscape. However, visit to a trade fair and meeting two German companies there, which made and supplied high quality gardening pots, got Green Carpet into the products business. “I shifted to products when I became the distributor for two German companies. And once I became a distributor, the only way ahead was to scale and have a pan India presence, which I did in 2006,” shares Myna.
Today, Green Carpet has a pan-India presence with mostly B2B clients. They work through architects, landscape consultants and corporates. They also have a showroom in Bangalore.“It is more of a studio for people to come in, see the products on the shelf and then place orders,” says Myna.
Her foray into products was not easy, as the initial 6-8 months there was no demand for the German company products that she had tied up with. The high prices of the product and lack of awareness were reasons for the initial lull. Currently, Myna claims that Green Carpet’s revenue is Rs 1.5 crore and growing 20-22% YOY. Besides airports, Green Carpet has also tied up with builders, hotels and residential complexes to supply products.
Myna says the space that she operates in is very new, not yet recognized and therefore it is difficult to put a market size estimate to it. “Even when we file our monthly sales tax returns, we don’t have a segment in the sales tax department. It takes them time to understand what a garden store does, they think we are plant sellers and landscape consultants,” she explains.
However, internationally in countries like Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand – places from where Green Carpet imports most products -- there is a lot of demand, and globally the space is quite big for these products. Myna imports most of the products, as she says it is faster and easier than setting up her own manufacturing facility. “I don’t want to get into manufacturing as that’s a different ball game because scaling things on that side is huge and I am not sure I am interested in doing that. The funding required is huge and frankly I will need to let go of my domestic life,” she says. Besides the possibility of customizing products as per client demand, outsourcing manufacturing makes it much simpler for her to operate.
Mumbai and Delhi are big markets for Green Carpet as they have tied up with many corporates and architects in these cities. Though they have a pan-India presence, it is mostly restricted to metros. Myna wants to expand and tap into Tier 2-3 cities, where customers are willing to experiment and spend big. And Myna hopes to be able to provide localized solution in these places in the future.Expansion across cities is through partners – people who want to represent Green Carpet in other cities and take up their dealership. And then there are some cities like Chennai and the North East region which is not at all garden friendly and do not offer any scope for expansion.
Green Carpet has mostly used PR exercises to market itself. Myna has personally penned down many articles in newspapers and magazines to spread awareness about what she does and the space they operate in.
Because of the partnership model, the Green Carpet team is small comprising only 10 people, and even within this team Myna makes it a point to rotate jobs occasionally. This she says helps as nobody then feels stuck in a single job. Myna says she has hired people with different education levels, and consciously avoided people with experience and big degrees. “While I appreciate their knowledge and what they have learnt, the way I operate my business is very hands on. People with big degrees expect the hierarchy and work environment of a large organization which simply does not work here. There is a lot of unlearning that happens on the job, so if you work for me, you have to learn and do all the work that comes by. You do sales, showroom marketing, warehousing, inventory management, and everything,” she says.