The time when vendors called out to customers to come buy ‘taaza subzi’ in the gallis and mohallas maybe a thing of the past, but the demand for ‘taaza subzi’ or fresh veggies has remained constant. With busy and stressful lives, people are opting to eat healthy. Keeping with the times and technology, the vegetable cart in most places has been replaced by an online system of order and home delivery. It is in this hyperlocal sector that Purnima Rao’s fresh2all comes into play.
Fresh2all was started with the vision to source all fruits and vegetables directly from the farmers and provide it to the customer’s doorstep and thereby ensure that people eat fresh and stay healthy.
From corporate to startup
Purnima hails from a middle class family from Patiala in Punjab. She did her schooling from Patiala and her B.Tech in Computer science from Faridkot. After graduation she worked with Genpact for seven months, followed by stints at other organisations like Evalueserve. In 2004 she got married and she worked till 2007 when her first daughter was born. In 2011 she got back to work for another year. In 2012 she quit as she had her second daughter.
“With two kids, I took two breaks in my corporate life and planned to go back to work after my younger daughter was about two years old. However, deep within, the thought of doing something of my own had been bothering me,” she says. After her marriage she had moved back to Gurgaon and saw the connections her in-laws family had with the village and the farms and from here she drew inspiration.
In July 2015, she started fresh2all to connect both farmers and customers. She shares, “As we have our own farms in Haryana and a network of farmers in Haryana, Rajasthan, and Punjab and know many people in Gurgaon, hence, I could immediately connect the dots and derived a unique value proposition that nobody else in this domain is empowered to and decided to provide chemical-free products at the prices of normal vegetables and fruits, initially from our own farms and then motivating other farmers as well.”
“I knew we have to be different if we need to survive in this highly competitive market, that too with companies that have got huge funding even before starting their businesses. Therefore, I was clear that we have to have some strong vision with key differentiators,” says Purnima, aware of the challenges that lie ahead.
Last few months have seen a good response and an increase in the customer base too.
“Our initial target was to have few customers in every area or apartment in Gurgaon and then focus on apartment based marketing and references from our existing customers. We had been quite successful with this strategy. I still prefer to pass on the monetary benefit to our existing customers for growth instead of spending them in general marketing,” she says.
Speaking of her venture and customer base, Purnima reveals that currently 90% of their customers are middle class families with whom she interacts personally to understand their preferences. She proudly shares that about 90% of her customers have never ordered from any hyperlocal websites and their primary challenge is to living upto their customers expectations. Purnima’s mantra is to maintain quality and great prices and she is striving hard to give her customers the best.
The first yield from the farms will reach the homes in Gurgaon only in December but meanwhile Purnima procures vegetables and fruits from other markets and supplies it to her customers. Her team is small, comprising of a handful people, and it is often she who gets the products herself. There are a few other people in the villages who handle the farms.
Purnima does a lot of the work herself along with her small team. Balancing her work and family is easy for her because of the support she receives from her in-laws. Her husband is her pillar of support and she greatly values his support.
Customer is important
Purnima values her customers and their feedback is taken seriously. This has helped them improve and get better. Purnima shares, “For instance, we now save on packaging cost of Rs 5 per order as we provide the products in re-usable bags; we ensure a printed copy of the bill is sent to every customer and we get the signed acknowledgement copy back. We have a return/refund policy with no minimum order value that makes us more flexible than others.”
Other than this, the focus is also on B2B model where they can engage with guesthouses, restaurants, etc.
Just the beginning
Her work keeps her on her toes and she is raring to go. “We are continuously exploring our contacts to get the direct connection for sourcing of different products. As and when we get a trusted source of any product that fits into our domain, we plan to add the same into our catalog. We are eagerly waiting for December when we will start providing chemical-free veggies from our own farms and hopefully besides the learning’s we shall be able to give good products at very reasonable cost and also make some profits,” she says with a bright smile
They will be clocking about two lakhs of revenue in October 2015 and are hopeful of maintaining 40–50% month on month growth for the first year. For the next two years their focus will be Gurgaon.
Purnima lost her father when she was eight years old so she has seen her mother work very hard. “I have seen both my mother and my mother-in-law work very hard and when I see people in villages work so hard to make ends meet, it keeps me motivated to give my best too.”