[Startup Bharat] This Ahmedabad-based gardening venture can turn your tiny urban space into a blossoming green garden
After 30 years of corporate life, 58-year-old Shishir Kabra decided that he wanted to do something he was passionate about - gardening. And so, he started an online portal to provide plants and gardening solutions to other people all over the country. His dream was to create an online ‘garden’that sells products and solutions to help people create and cultivate green and beautiful urban spaces.
His sons, 33-year-old Sharad and 30-year-old Saumitra, believed it was a viable idea and joined him. Together, the three started myBageecha.com in 2016.
“We work with balconies, gardening or interiors,” says Sharad. myBageecha has many categories aimed at creating a beautiful surrounding with the core theme revolving around nature.
(L-R) Sharad, Shishir and Saumitra Kabra
Based in Ahmedabad, it delivers the likes of flowering plants, ferns, herbs, cactus, and fruit plants at your doorstep, and claims to have over 1,000 varieties of plants available.
The company wants to help city dwellers who wants to keep plants but may not have access to a nursery, or don’t know how to create and maintain a garden in a limited space.
Sharad says that the team sources the plants from around 20 places across India including Pune, Bengaluru, Kerala, and some varieties even as far as Kalimpong. The company also has an offline store in Ahmedabad offering plants, pieces of decor, pots, etc.
It's easy enough to buy plants but keeping healthy is another thing altogether. So myBageecha uses a website chat service and its own social media sites to help customers pick the right pots and plants and give them all the knowledge and information they need to get a garden going.
Apart from selling plants, myBageecha also offers indoor designing solutions like terrariums and moss frames.
While starting up, the trio did not know whether there was a real need in the market for such a venture, says Sharad. “It was purely out of passion. But we found that people have become more eco-friendly and are starting to be aware of the positive effects of plants. They have even started gifting plants to their loved ones.”
Shishir Kabra with the staffs
Since plants are a perishable product, packaging and getting them delivered right was a challenge.
“Plants can break during transport if you don’t take care in packaging. Thus, we pack only after we receive the order and ship it via air so as to ensure that the customers receive it within two days of placing the order. To avoid any kind of movement or breakage, the stems are tied to the box, which is filled with thermocol,” explains Sharad.
Given that they were based in Ahmedabad, it was easy to find a cheap office space compared to a larger city.
“Right now, we stock 5,000 different plants at a time. To find such a place in Mumbai, we would have to go to the extreme outskirts.”
While myBageecha has companies like Nurserylive and Ugaoo as competitors, it says that its customised themes, aesthetics and designs sets it apart. Sharad adds that the company is confident in what it offers and claims to have a 60 percent repeat rate of customers. It says it gets 50-100 orders a day and around 5,000 visitors to its website and other channels daily.
Though 60 percent of its sales come from metro cities, myBageecha gets orders from across the country. The founders say that they have shipped to over 500 places as of now.
Driven by a growing passion
Shishir was 55 when he started myBageecha. He has over 30 years of administrative, managerial and marketing experience in information technology, paper and plastics packaging, and the textile industry.
Sharad is an MBA graduate from IIM-Calcutta and has worked for 10 years as a strategy consultant with companies like Reckitt, USL, TATA, Bunge, Arvind and Merrill Lynch. Saumitra is a designer and artist with a Masters in 3D animation from Auckland and has worked in media houses like MTV and specialises in user interface and marketing.
Coming from a non-ecommerce background, the trio found learning and understanding the gardening and online retail space a challenge, but their combined expertise helped them overcome this. Today, they have a 20-member team.
The brothers worked in Mumbai and returned to Ahmedabad to support their father in this business.
“Living in a city like Mumbai, we realised how difficult it was to bring greenery inside the small confines of our homes, and even more difficult to go and procure plants from nurseries far away,” says Sharad.
Price points and future plans
The average price of the products on its website is Rs 500 for plants, Rs 1,200 for terrariums, and Rs 10,000 for moss frames.
myBageecha also lists its products on ecommerce platforms, including Amazon, Flipkart, and Pepperfry, which bring a total of 20 percent of the sales to the company, claim the founders. Plants contribute only 30 percent of its sales. The rest comes from the other terrariums, moss frames, pots, gardening accessories, etc.
Currently bootstrapped, the founders claim that myBageecha makes a small profit, with revenue growing 10 percent month-on-month.
In the future, it plans to sell outside the country, increase its offline stores, and enter the corporate channel with products that could ‘greenify’ interiors, and be great gift options.