As an employee with a private firm in Bengaluru, Sai Vardhan Goud earned a salary of Rs 22,000 a month. But six months into the job Sai started feeling unsatisfied with his work and decided to quit.
“I completed my diploma in mechatronics from Bengaluru between 2017 and 2019 and immediately started working thereafter. But I realised that rather than working as an employee and earning less money, I preferred putting in the effort to build an entity from scratch,” he tells The Better India.
Sai returned to his native Thotapalli village, about 50 km from Vijayawada. “I belong to a family of farmers, and it was my father who suggested I join the occupation. My family grows seasonal vegetables and mangoes using organic methods on 8-acre land,” he says.
Living in the city, Sai realised the increasing demand for organic products in the market. Moreover, in the summer of 2020, he saw farmers struggling to sell their produce owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, he decided to help the farmers sell their mangoes online.
“I invested Rs 5,000 to create business accounts on Instagram and Facebook and put the pictures of organically harvested mangoes on the social media platforms while offering farm-to-home delivery,” the 21-year-old says.
“The fruit is in high demand during the season, and I decided to bank on the opportunity,” he says.
As expected, his posts received responses and queries as customers across India bought them. “I was glad to be able to help the farmers from my village. My friend then seeded an idea to launch a startup with farm food,” he says.
A Startup With a Cause
Soon, Sai noticed that he could promote his mother’s pickles online too. “My mother made pickles during the summer and distributed them among friends and relatives. I studied the demand for pickles in the market for a couple of months and started Farm Org Foods,” he adds.
To stand out from his competitors, Sai offered organic pickles made from carrot, brinjal, cauliflower, tomato and other vegetables, freshly harvested from farms. “I presented pictures and videos of the process and assured the customers of the authenticity of the products. Besides, they were also good to taste,” he says.
Witnessing his mother achieve financial independence, Sai decided to involve and empower women from his village through his venture, too.
“I convinced a few women to use the opportunity for earning a decent income. They agreed, and currently, 20 women have joined the venture,” he says.
Today, Sai’s business earns Rs 70,000 a month, three times more than what he earned from his corporate job. “I use up to Rs 20,000 to pay four women and have employed others on a part-time basis,” he says.
However, everything wasn’t smooth sailing for Sai who says, “My father was against the decision and wanted me to pursue a stable corporate job. But I managed to convince him, and later on, he supported me with Rs 40,000. My brother and friends helped me with another Rs 1 lakh which I used to build a website and invested in other logistics.”
He continues, “Initially, I requested some friends and relatives to share my posts on social media to promote my business. But they were reluctant and even questioned my decision to start a business. However, as I received a significant response, they felt confident and proud of my efforts. Today, they share all my posts on their social media accounts.”
Sai has customers from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. “I have also shipped orders to the USA and the UK. I aim to target the North Indian market next and will set up brick and mortar stores in metro cities soon,” he adds.
The young entrepreneur is now collaborating with the State Agricultural Department officials to encourage more farmers to take up organic farming in his and the neighbouring villages.
“I feel satisfied to have helped farmers from my villagers sell their products and prevent losses during the pandemic. I hope to contribute more for their cause and help them progress through the food processing venture,” he adds.
To order products from Farm Org Foods, click here.
Edited by Yoshita Rao