Metro cities might have left the average consumer jaded with the number of different e-commerce, hyperlocal and food delivery startups. It is rather refreshing and interesting to see startups from cities like Tumkur venturing into the e-commerce and online marketplace segment.
LivegreenIndia is a Tumkur-based online marketplace for home decor, furnishing, accessories, gardening tools, footwear, and even waste management tools. Pramod Siddagangaiah started LivegreenIndia after working at the Indian Institute of Science as a sustainability researcher.
“Initially, I started LiveGreen as a consultancy that gave sustainable solutions on waste management, eco-friendly products, solar products, and even developed few green products,” says 28-year-old Pramod.
Building an e-commerce platform for all sustainable products
The idea of turning LiveGreen into an online market place was given by Pramod’s long-time friend Kiran Kempeeranayak. Before joining hands with Pramod, Kiran had founded Venus Mobiles that focussed on making mobile phones for the rural markets. However, he had to shut the same down due to insufficient funds.
When Kiran met Pramod, he wanted to start an e-commerce company like Flipkart for the rural markets. They joined hands and decided to turn LiveGreen into an online marketplace for sustainable products.
“LiveGreen isn’t just a product selling platform but a one-stop solution for all sustainability related products and services,” adds Pramod. Speaking about why the focus on sustainable and eco-friendly products, Pramod says, according to the Namex International Journal of Management Research, India is the most preferred country for green marketing.
He adds that around 25 per cent of the consumers in India prefer environment friendly products. Nobody knows how many solar water heater companies are there in market, which one to call if they want to get energy consumption assessment, whom to call for an organic terrace garden, experts who can solve waste management problems in apartments, and so on. With their services segment, LivegreenIndia will focus on ensuring that the end consumers find the needed help.
Pramod says that the idea of LiveGreen is to bring the ease of accessibility of different kinds of products to every individual. LiveGreen follows a marketplace model, where they take a commission from the supplier for every sale made. The team also onboards the suppliers by meeting people from the rural markets and gets them to sell online.
For the services of sustainable products, LiveGreen has tied up with various service providers and manufacturers so that the consumer can get the right products directly from the source without any hassle.
Fighting an uphill battle
However, building an online marketplace is wrought with its own challenges. While the product suppliers who have experience dealing with e-commerce are professional, most of the team’s dealings have been with suppliers who rarely understand e-commerce and will not stick to the delivery dates.
“Making them to understand business is difficult and we continuously need to monitor the quality,” adds Pramod. As most of the suppliers are rural manufacturers and owners, the LiveGreen team works closely with them to ensure that the quality of the products are up to standards.
Apart from this LiveGreen also has to compete with the well-funded and more established e-commerce players. Pramod adds that they are trying to sell products to the end-consumer that aren’t mainstream.
In terms of traction, Pramod says, they receive close to five service requests per week and they have onboarded 10 service providers. The team generated a revenue of Rs 20,000 last month. The average revenue they get per user is Rs 500. Also the number of active users after churn is 2,500. Currently bootstrapped, the team is actively looking at fundraising.
According to an IAMAI report, by 2026 the market size of Tier II and III cities will grow from the current $5.7 to $80 billion. The mobile Internet penetration in rural India is growing at close to 58 per cent YOY. Several reports also suggest these regions account for close to 40 per cent of the country’s middle-class income group with increasing spending powers.
It is interesting to see that platforms like Marketwarket and LiveGreen enter Tier II cities where many biggies like Grofers have shut down their operations. The company had shut operations in Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Ludhiana, Mysuru, Coimbatore, Kochi, Visakhapatnam, Nashik and Rajkot.
As mentioned earlier, e-commerce players specifically out of Tier II and III cities have to compete with the Flipkarts and Snapdeals of the world. Not only are they deeply funded, they claim to have penetrated into the smaller towns and markets.
These regions also have only limited investor focus. Ashish Taneja, growX Ventures, says, “If you look at most investors and VC firms, they’re based out of larger cities, so they tend to support organisations there. Also, if you make it big in the bigger cities, the chances of successfully replicating it in smaller cities are much higher.”