As Shark Tank Season 2 took off on 2 January this year, people are already on the edge of their seats rooting for their favourite brands. One brand in particular stood out for not just its work, but also the ingenious yet simple idea that they have spun into a full-blown venture.
Hoovu — a floral startup started by sisters Yeshoda and Rhea Karuturi — is bridging the gap in the flower industry through its model of delivering fresh flowers to people’s doorsteps. The Bengaluru sisters managed to walk away with an investment of Rs 1 crore from ‘sharks’ Peyush Bansal and Aman Mittal, and plan to expand their venture with the same.
Venturing into the flower industry was an easy decision for the sisters, as they’d grown up seeing their father owning rose farms in Kenya, Ethiopia and India. In the 90s, his Kenyan farm was recognised as the largest rose farm in the world.
Having witnessed the evolution of the cut-flower industry through the years the sisters knew this was what they wanted to get into.
‘It takes a village to achieve a dream.’
The sisters began their journey in 2019 with a subscription-based flower delivery model to replace the traditional flower markets. They say showcasing this idea on national television was “overwhelming”.
“When it comes to the traditional flower market in India, the supply chain is still incredibly fragmented and unorganised, and the wastage is huge. These flowers are supplied through multiple levels of handling after harvest, and by the time they reach the customer, they lose their freshness,” she adds.
Hoovu was a way for the sisters to manifest their common interest in running a business, while establishing a platform that fixes the issue from both the demand as well as the supply side. In July last year, they were approached by a representative of the Sony Channel team asking if they’d like to be a part of the upcoming Shark Tank season.
“I initially thought it was spam, as we were just a small initiative. We ignored it, but the person reached out to us once again a while later, affirming that it was indeed true. They got us in touch with the Sony team,” says Rhea.
She adds that when she and Yeshoda agreed to apply for season 2, they were clear in their intent — we had always worked towards building a brand that people could respect and wanted that to reflect in our pitch.
“I remember telling the team that people could laugh at us, but not at what we had worked towards creating,” she adds.
What followed next were months of preparation and hard work.
Lessons learnt from the sets of Shark Tank
The sisters emphasise the number of lessons they learnt during the buildup to the Shark Tank episode in Mumbai in September.
Working hard gets you where you want to be
As Rhea explains the tight schedule compelled them to work harder, as the shoot was around the time of the festive season.
“We were pulling back-to-back all-nighters and would watch Shark Tank episodes after finishing work at 12. We’d practise with these hoping that when the time came, we’d be able to replicate it,” she says.
Roadblocks are learning paths
Having grown up in Bengaluru, the sisters were not well versed in Hindi, and a prerequisite of the Shark Tank show was that it be shot in Hindi.
“We have been out of practice with Hindi and even the test audition we sent in was not great. We were nervous of how we’d pull it off, but the team was very understanding and we practised until we perfected it,” adds Yeshoda.
You need people
The sisters recount how the only reason they were so composed was because of the strong team they have built.
“We feel so grateful. As founders, it is wonderful to go out and share our stories but at the end of the day what speaks is our work. We were at Yashraj studios filming for three days and that’s what made us realise if you want to go far in life you need a lot of people.”
Take the risk
“The biggest growth happens when you push yourself out of your comfort zone,” says Yeshoda. “Being on national TV was a big deal as we did not know how people would take it, but the love we got was tremendous.”
India is changing
Rhea recalls how her phone has been abuzz with messages and calls from people telling them how inspiring their story is, and how two sisters building a brand is great as it reflects the opportunities that are open to women entrepreneurs.
“Right now, there is an energy in the country supporting Indian entrepreneurs,” she adds.
While Hoovu offers a wide range of products, they plan to expand to more in the coming months using the money that they have won. Summing up their journey, Rhea says, “A year from now, we want to look back and be amazed at how far we have come. That’s exactly what we feel right now.”