PlantsAre Plants Green to Reduce the Noise in Photosynthesis?
March 28, 2023
Ugaoo is an Indian online nursery for homegrown plants based in Pune, Maharashtra. The company supplies home gardening and houseplants online and began as a startup in mid-December 2015. Sidhant Bhalinge, the founder of Ugaoo, was only 28 years when he spotted a huge business opportunity in homegrown plants. He discovered that millennials in India aged 23-28 years are investing in plants for their homes. Capitalizing on the rapidly increasing demand for homegrown plants in India was one of the motivations for starting the business. At the same time, giving some breathing space to people in their busy city lives was the other goal of the business.
Sidhant Bhalinge founded Ugaoo in mid-December 2015 in Pune, India. Sidhant is a California State Polytechnic University graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Agriculture. Sidhant’s family owned more than a century-old Agribusiness, and he carried on the legacy by founding an online plant nursery. The company started by selling seeds, but soon Sidhant observed that Millenials preferred buying plants and not seeds. Thus, Ugaoo shifted its focus on homegrown plants that became the focal point of the online nursery business.
With its head office in Pune, Ugaoo has nurseries across 18- acres of land in Talegaon. The company has dispatch centers in Mumbai and Pune.
Sidhant observed that massive urbanization immensely affected the relationship between people and nature as they remained disconnected. Feeling the urgent need to bridge the gap, Sidhant Bhalinge decided to start the business of online nurseries with a focus on potted and homegrown plants.
Until that time, the plant nursery business in India was unorganized. But, the Millenials played catalysts in changing people’s attitude on why and how they should buy plants. For them, plants are precious home décor items and can be excellent for gifting or treated as emotional investments. But except for their love for plants, they did not seem to know about plant care and sustenance.
Sidhant’s passion and knowledge about plants provided the perfect platform for starting a business. He blended his horticultural passion and expertise with his commercial acumen to begin the business of online nurseries on a different note.
Ugaoo offers a variety of plants that aid wellness, and some are useful for home décor. The range of products includes
Choosing the right type of plants can improve wellness by helping in calming and relaxing, stress-busting, healing, and boosting creativity. The other variety of plants is excellent for decorating homes. Having live plants at home helps beautify and boosts the residents’ physical and mental health.
Customers can order any plant from the entire range online and receive it at their doorsteps as Ugaoo ensures the safe delivery of healthy plants.
Ugaoo’s business model is unique as it goes beyond business economics by adopting a holistic approach to gardening and farming. The company provides proper guidance to its customers to fill the knowledge gap in plant parenting to create their dream gardens at home. The Ugaoo website addresses the needs of horticulturists, amateur and professional gardeners, interior decorators, landscape architects, plant lovers, urban farmers, and even big farmers in India.
Ugaoo provides end-to-end support in gardening and farming. Besides supplying plants and seeds, it also supplies all gardening tools, including lawn mowers and garden machinery. Soil substrates, gardening accessories, pots, pesticides, insecticides, organic manure, and fertilizers are also available. The online network helps to reach customers in the farthest corners of India.
Besides selling the products through its website, the company reaches its customers through other online market places like Flipkart and Amazon.
Ugaoo is aware of the knowledge gap in gardening and farming, which impedes sustaining plants. Despite supplying healthy plants, lack of proper care cause plant deaths. Ugaoo takes adequate measures to support its customers by helping them learn proper plant parenting. Ugaoo provides tips and advice about plant parenting on its website that helps answer any questions regarding plant care. For example, you can learn which kind of light is right for your plants or which are the best flowering plants or Indian homes. Moreover, detailed information about growing and taking proper care of specific plant species is available.
Ugaoo encourages corporate houses to use plants as gifts. They offer a variety of plants that can serve as corporate gifts. Several potted plants are suitable for corporate gifts, including self-watering pots. Encouraging people to gift plants is Ugaoo’s way of raising environmental awareness, and the company promotes green gifting in a big way. Various attractive plants are available from as little as Rs. 349, and the costliest could be close to Rs.1500. The company also sells plant kits for gifting.
Ugaoo enjoys the backing of three investors that include DSG Consumer Partners and RPG Ventures, who are recent investors. Namdeo Umaji is the third investor.
Since its inception in late 2015, Ugaoo has organized two funding rounds. The first seed round of funding took place on September 20, 2016, when Namdeo Umaji provided the funds. The latest round of funding took place on November 24, 2021, almost five years since founding the company. The total financing of the company is $2.4 million.
During the second round of funding, the company raised Rs.15 crores ($2 million) from DSG Consumer Partners and RPG Ventures.
Ugaoo wants to utilize the funds to expand its regional presence by creating garden centers and hubs in Kolkata, Delhi, and Bangalore. Moreover, it has plans to collaborate with international plant companies to add a broader range of exotic plants to its portfolio. Supplying premium plant care products in the Indian market is also on the agenda.
Although the company started with a focus on urban customers that helped achieve 120% annual growth, it now wants to penetrate the rural market of India. During its inception, the company has ambitious plans to reach out to farmers in tier II and tier III cities by launching the Ugaoo app. The company plans to develop a farmer community in the future.
According to the founder Sidhant Bhalinge, the home gardening industry is likely to experience 50% annual growth, and by 2025 it should be a USD 4 billion industry.
Until November 2021, Ugaoo fulfilled more than a million orders and has plans to increase its monthly production to 500,000 plants per month by the end of 2022.
As of December 31, 2020, the annual revenue of Ugaoo was $2.1milliion. The revenue recorded a drastic increase from $857 000 for the same period in 2019.
According to the numbers available, the company had 50 employees as of December 31, 2020.
Bloomscape, USA, the Detroit-based online plant delivery company, is the main competitor of Ugaoo. The other competitors are AgriApp, Bnagalore, BioFarm, Rossano and BFG Supply, Aurora.
The Covid19 pandemic has been a game-changer for the global garden and lawn consumables market. The extensive home quarantine during the pandemic boosted gardening, which became one of the most effective stress-relievers. Millions of people took to gardening while remaining confined in homes for an extended period.
The global market for garden and lawn consumables was $16.6 billion in 2020 and is likely to touch $26.3 billion by 2030. The CAGR growth rate would be 4.5%. Ugaoo can ride the growth wave by capitalizing on its deep domain knowledge and expertise about plants and everything associated with it. They could also benefit from the rising trend of plant parenting among young adults.
Ugaoo has the potential to become the category-defining brand in an otherwise unorganized sector by using a digital-first approach to solve customer pain points.