In this marks-first age, when most of the teenagers are worried about getting good marks in entrance examinations and finding a good job, six teenagers from Delhi leaped into entrepreneurship while still in school. And no, it did not happen by chance. These six founders started Phoolvari, a gardening startup out of their experimentation and experience.
The startup is the brainchild of 17-year-old Vanshaj Chaabra, a class XII student at GD Goenka Public School, Rohini who was later joined by his friends Anoushka Chakraborty, Shreyansh Jain, Manvi Sidana, Eshan Goel and Stuti Saria.
Phoolvari is not just another gardening startup that sells plants and equipment. Instead, these teenagers have come together to solve each and every problem related to gardening that a customer faces. And that too within 24 hours. These teenagers aim to solve the problem of irregular, untrained and unavailability of gardeners. They aim to help people who want to install plants around them but don’t know the ins and outs of the procedure.
So, how did they start?
There are more than 50,000 startups in India and the number is growing day by day. While most of the successful startups are started either by millennials or young professionals, there are certain examples where teenagers have taken over the market.
A gardening enthusiast himself, 17-year-old Vanshaj noticed that there are many households who struggle to find regular and professional gardeners.
Moreover, he witnessed that his family and neighbors struggle to maintain a garden. Plans were costly to buy, difficult to transport and complex to maintain. All this happened a year ago, and he prepared the idea to solve this problem, but due to the pressure of studies, he didn’t do anything at that time.
TiE Young Entrepreneurs (TYE) has a role to play in Phoolvari’s inception.
It is a program run by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) aimed at fostering youngsters by teaching them every aspect of entrepreneurship in school. TYE targets students in classes IX to XII and teaches them through its two-months classroom session on Sundays on entrepreneurship and leadership.
The program comprises of various aspects of setting up and running a successful business. The students form teams and brainstorm various business ideas and prepare a plan. They, then compete at the ‘Chapter Level’ where the winning team gets the opportunity to compete at the TYE Global Finals in the United States for a cash prize.
Phoolvari was also conceptualized at the TYE’s Delhi chapter’s pitch competition. Eleven teams participated and presented their business ideas ranging from AI-enabled fashion app to management of e-waste. However, Phoolvari’s team went a step ahead and conducted a month-long pilot to prove business viability. When the team qualified, they all together decided that the project should not just stop here. And so, they launched a full-fledged company to support their vision.
At the time of inception, the team decided to focus only on one part of the city – West Delhi – in order to provide efficient services and deliver on its promises.
The startup was launched in May 2019 and guarantees one-day delivery of plants and gardening accessories. It also provides gardening-related services like remodeling and landscaping backyards. Their dedicated call center helps customers clarify their doubts related to gardening and plants.
The startup is managing its services through various social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. It soon will launch its own website and mobile app. They outsource plants and other materials from neighborhood nurseries after taking orders over calls or WhatsApp.
The startup only accepts ‘cash on delivery’ mode of payment as digital payment firms like PhonePe, Paytm or other payment gateways do not allow customers under the age of 18. The startup has signed contracts with professional remodelers and logistics companies to provide quick services to customers.
Phoolvari faces competition from startups like Rent a Mali, Nurserylive, MyBageecha, Ugaao and Amazon India. Competitors like Amazon provides faster deliveries, but do not provide additional services like gardening consultation, discounts, and flexible return policies, says Vanshaj.
Phoolvari sells plants in the price range of ₹100 to ₹300 including pots which are lower than their competitors. The startup aims to become profitable by 2022. The team wants to capture the market in West Delhi and then expand to the whole city by 2021 and become the market leader by 2023.
All the founding members are saving their pocket money to support their venture. They have planned to contribute ₹1.2 lakh each every year.
There are 13 lakh middle-class households in Delhi which is the target market of Phoolvari. Vanshaj is confident that the startup will earn around ₹11 crores in annual revenues in the next five years. This is in line with their pilot test during which they completed 13 orders and made a profit of ₹1,150.
All of the six teenagers have contributed ₹2,000 each from their own pocket money to start the business. Vanshaj and his team members plan to run the company on a small scale till they finish their Class XII and after that, they will focus on scaling up by tying up with e-rickshaw fleets for plant delivery.