Hoovu, a subscription-based startup for puja flowers by Yeshoda and Rhea Karuturi from Bengaluru is revolutionising the traditional flower market in India.
Wouldn’t it be convenient if there was a system in place for delivering fresh flowers at home, just like the morning newspapers or milk packets? This thought hit two sisters — Yeshoda and Rhea Karuturi, pushing them to explore the market gap in the floral industry.
And soon in 2019, they introduced a system to deliver fresh traditional flowers to the customer’s doorstep through their startup, Hoovu, which means flowers in Kannada.
In a mission to bring about a ‘modern twist’ to the decades-old traditional flower market, the sisters also introduced a subscription model of delivery.
This Bengaluru-based floral startup, launched with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh from an angel investor, clocks a turnover of Rs 8 crore annually.
A modern twist to traditional market
Growing up in a family that owned a thriving flower business, the sisters weren’t new to this field. Their father Ram Karuturi owns rose farms in Kenya, Ethiopia and India. His Kenyan farm was recognised as the largest rose farm in the world in the 90s. So, the sisters grew up watching the cut flower industry change dramatically through the years.
While being part of the cut flower industry, they realised that while the potential of the bouquet flower market was huge across the world, flowers served a very different need in the Indian household.
“Besides using them for puja (worship), people love wearing them on their hair or hanging them in their autos, cars, shops and offices,” says Yeshoda, who is a postgraduate from Washington University in St Louis.
She further notes, “Though the flower bouquet market is quite organised and flourished, the traditional puja flower market was far behind in its growth. The supply chain is still incredibly fragmented and unorganised, and the wastage is huge. The flowers are supplied through multiple levels of handling after harvest, and by the time they reach the customer, they lose their freshness.”
Thus, after thorough research about the market, the sisters established a platform that fixed the issue from both the demand as well as supply sides. The startup partners directly with over 50 farmers from states like Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
“We have tied up with farmers directly as it would cut the time thereby reducing the turnaround time to 12-24 hours,” says Rhea, who graduated from Stanford University.
Once the flowers are sourced, they are cleaned to make them bacteria and moisture-free. It is followed by a quality packing process to keep the flowers fresh for longer, extending their shelf life from two to three days to around 15 days.
From loose flowers to garlands and different greens like tulsi (holy basil) and darbha (halfa grass), Hoovu offers a wide range of products. Other than the subscription system, their products are also available on different online platforms like Big Basket, Grofers, Supr Daily, Zomato, Milkbasket, FTH Daily and Zepto, as well as their own website.
“We receive over 1,50,000 orders per month from cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mysore, Pune, Mumbai, Gurugram and Noida. Last year, we introduced our agarbattis (incense sticks) and are happy that even those turned out to be a success,” adds Yeshoda.
If you are interested in starting a business like this, learn all about it from Yeshoda herself. In this video, Yeshoda shares her business secrets, the do’s and don’ts while starting a venture, and her biggest mantra for becoming a successful entrepreneur. Find more details here.
Edited by Pranita Bhat