[Funding alert] With investors like Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Nurturing Green wants to make 'green gifting' mainstream in India
Let’s face it: a bouquet of flowers may seem like a safe gift for all occasions, but it usually ends up in the garbage can. While studying in Europe, Annu Grover thought of sending his mother some flowers, no doubt a thoughtful gesture. But she did the inevitable and tossed it a day later when the flowers had wilted and were no longer pleasing to the eye.
That is the moment Annu realised that there was a real need for change and soon blossomed the idea of Nurturing Green, a startup that brings special, unique theme based plants for gifting, home decor, gardening, landscaping, and corporate gifting.
So, in 2009, Annu left a lucrative job in Amsterdam and came back to Gurugram to start Nurturing Green.
Growth and funding
At present, the startup has grown close to 3x and as of last year, it had revenue of Rs 12 crore. After bootstrapping for close to a decade, the startup has now raised an undisclosed amount of funding from industry veterans like Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Paytm), Mohit Goel (Omaxe Limited), Suraj Nangia (Nangia Advisors), and others.
The team intends to use this capital to tie up with supermarkets across India, and open over 200 stores to sell directly to the consumer. Nurturing Green is also looking to develop its first digital strategy to boost its ecommerce sales.
“We are also looking at building the online-to-offline channel, which includes quick delivery of our product across 11 cities because our new-age audience wants instant gratification, especially when it comes to gifting,” says Annu.
In the first year, the team made revenue of Rs 20 lakh. Nurturing Green offers a wide range of plants starting from Rs 99 up to Rs 2,00,000.
Setting up Nurturing Green was no bed of roses, however.
“The very first challenge was convincing people to adapt to gifting plants instead of a bouquet or anything of one-time-use. But with dedication and support from the team, we managed to pull it off and made it a sustainable model,” says Annu. The first employee he hired was a gardener. At present, Nurturing Green has a team of 70.
The startup initially started with corporate gifting and selling in retail stores. It also sourced the 12 zodiac plants from different nurseries and started selling five to 10 orders per day. The team got a breakthrough in the corporate gifting business with a order for the Green Golf Cup worth Rs 12,000 to Rs 13,000.
Distribution and market
Nurturing Green has a few major sales distribution channels. In B2B, it deals with corporates and governments for gifting, green décor, and landscaping. In B2C, it directly sells to individuals through retail outlets.
At present, it sells across all Home Centre stores across nine cities in India with 6,000 pincodes, as well as online marketplaces Flipkart and Amazon. It also has its own website. Additionally, the team has a Nurturing Green store in Delhi.
“We are also have a collaboration with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, and have built an Oxygen Chamber (O2 Chamber) near Huda City Centre Metro station, which is spread across 13,000 sq ft area. Surrounded with hundreds of anti-pollution plants, it’s a green zone. We also sell plants from there,” says Annu.
The global gifting industry is expected to touch $84 billion by 2020. Of this, corporate gifting holds 80 percent of the pie. Green gifting is a relatively new concept in the country, and Nurturing Green competes with the likes of Exotic Greens and Green Grower.
Annu adds that Nurturing Green has good margins, and unit contribution of each product is 40 percent while retails usually works on 2x-4x gross margins.
“In 2019-2020, we are working towards two of our big missions - understanding the inflexion of the industry and achieving cumulative revenue of the last 100 months in the next 11 months. We also want to reach a target of 1,00,000 units sold per month,” says Annu.