As part of a family that ran their own business, 24-year-old Siddhant Bhalinge never wanted to be a part of the corporate world, but be an entrepreneur in his own right. Soon after graduating from the California State Polytechnic University, Siddhant returned to India in the latter half of 2014.
I have always been keen on doing something on my own and stimulating a difference in society with what I do. I came back to India with a vision to change the way Indian cities are landscaped and work towards ecosystem restoration and green projects,” says Siddhant.
To gain insights on the agricultural scenario and understand the landscape, he traveled across rural Maharashtra. The lack of an online platform to educate people about gardening, landscaping, and agriculture led him to start Ugaoo.com in December 2015.
A majority of the urban population wants to grow plants, use land they own outside the city for farming and do up their farm houses. Ugaoo provides quality products and credible knowledge to farming and gardening enthusiasts in India.
The portal addresses the needs of professional gardeners, horticulturists, architects, landscape architects, interior decorators, urban farmers, hobby gardeners, plant lovers, and rural large-scale farmers in India.
It offers a broad range of gardening and agriculture supplies such as kitchen garden seeds, commercial hybrid seeds, all types of garden tools, lawn mowers and garden machinery, pots, gardening accessories, soil substrates, insecticides, pesticides, organic fertilisers and a wide range of multilingual books on various topics.
Siddhant has leveraged his 130-year-old family business Namdeo Umaji Agritech India (which deals with hybrid seeds, gardening equipment, and agriculture supplies) to provide quality gardening and agriculture supplies to all avid gardeners and farmers in the remotest parts of India.
Ugaoo.com maintains a daily traffic of 250 to 300 users, and has witnessed about 200 orders in a span of two months. About 500 orders have been catered via Flipkart, Amazon, and Shopclues. Moreover, Ugaoo has taken part in two exhibitions in Pune and Mumbai, which has helped them generate a revenue of Rs. 5,50,000.
A majority of our tractions come from metro cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and New Delhi. We have also received many orders from cities Pune, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Surat and Indore,” says Siddhant.
Currently, Ugaoo has 10 employees, and 30 employees from Namdeo Umaji assist the startup in stocking and packaging. The Mumbai-based startup has opened up its second office and warehouse in Pune, and houses qualified developers, marketing executives, and operation executives.
As it is backed by Namdeo Umaji, Ugaoo.com is maximising an existing network of more than 50 manufacturers dealing with garden tools, insecticides and pesticides, organic fertilisers, plant pots, substrates and other accessories.
“We stock only quality products at our warehouses located in Pune and Mumbai and dispatch it all over India from there,” avers Siddhant.
In the next six to eight months, the startup aims to process 400 to 500 orders daily. With its dedicated forums, avid gardeners can discuss tips and tricks to produce better results. It is currently working on the Ugaoo app, which will be soon launched and will offer discounts to farmers in a bid to penetrate Tier II and III cities.
The startup is also in talks with investors to raise funds to scale up operations and tap into the agriculture supplies market with a focus on providing quality seeds at the lowest prices, pan-India.
We have been working constantly to develop a wide range of plants over the past six months and soon will start selling them all over India assuring damage-free shipping. We will soon be investing in digital marketing and traditional print media marketing as well.”
According to Siddhant, a panel of 10 experts on gardening and 10 experts on agriculture will provide consultancy on better practices by sharing their expertise. Ugaoo.com will be adding 200 to 300 products every month and many agricultural vendors have shown interest to list their products on Ugaoo.com. For this fiscal year, Ugaoo aims to generate Rs. 10 crore with investors on board, and it hopes to achieve more than $10 million in sales by 2016-17.
Increasing disposal income, a strong focus on the food processing sector and a rise in agricultural exports, collectively, will give a fillip to the agriculture sector in India. According to a report by India Brand Equity Foundation, agriculture and allied sectors grew 1.9 per cent year on year and contributed 14.2 per cent of Gross Value Added.
The contribution of startups has also helped the sector witness significant transformation in terms of technological development.
Kurukshetra-based Anubal Agro helps farmers go organic by providing free seeds, bio inputs and consultancy. Lucknow-based Save Indian Grain.org is dedicated to developing modern grain-storage solutions, subsistence marketplaces, agri-stakeholders and cluster maps for small and marginal farmers in India. Mumbai-based DestaMart.com serves as a vehicle to bring together qualified and validated suppliers and agri-stores (dealers) to increase the efficiency of the agri-input supply chain.
Sahil Kini, VP, Aspada Investments says,
Productivity and distribution are fundamental problems faced by Indian agriculture. Agri-startups are trying to address the other important part of agriculture – income, productivity, and farmer prosperity.”
Two months old Ugaoo.com will initially focus more on addressing the needs of the avid gardeners in urban areas. And with its soon to be launched Ugaoo app, the startup aims to tap the farmers in tier II and III cities who have been exposed to the world of latest technology and apps. Going forward, it will develop a farmer community where farmers can exchange discourse related to agriculture. However, it would be too early to comment on whether it will remain restricted to gardeners and elite farmers or it will go ahead with an holistic approach to improve the farming in Maharashtra.