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The problem Bhalinge was trying to solve is that urban households don’t really have the time or patience to learn gardening, but they appreciate a green break from their fast lives and anxiety or stress. “Growing up, discussions on the dinner table revolved around seeds, farmer’s needs, and trends in agritech,” he adds, so the transition to starting up after a landscape architecture did not take long.
Bhalinge claims Ugaoo made over INR 18 Cr in net revenue in FY21 and plans to grow at 2X pace every year. It has also introduced a plant subscriptions model in recent months to bolster repeat purchases with three tiers of pricing based on the number of plants being shipped every month. Besides this the company has added merchandise as well. In the last six years, Ugaoo has fulfilled more than a million orders and aims to produce 500K plants per month by the end of 2022.
The biggest differentiator for Ugaoo is the sheer variety of plants, succulents and cacti that it hosts on the platform, which are all grown in greenhouses set up in both residential and commercial spaces, with operations being managed by horticulturalists and botanists. It considers its customers plant parents and has a loyalty program by that name to increase retention and communicate the latest growing and gardening techniques.
Besides plants, Ugaoo has added a range of products that fit into its home gardening vision, including kitchen garden seeds, organic manures, planters, and garden tools. Recently, it also started providing gardening services to ensure customers have expert help when needed. The company recently entered the Netherlands market, and has collaborated with several international plant growers to introduce premium exotic plants and plant care products to the Indian market, besides its homegrown products.
The short term plan for the startup is to expand its retail presence to six major Indian cities, including Bengaluru, Delhi and Kolkata through uniquely designed garden centres. Besides its own website and marketplaces, it has two brick-and-mortar stores in Pune. By 2025, it is looking to target more international markets such as Singapore and Dubai, backed by a strong scientific approach, partnerships and community building at the heart of the model. The verticalisation of cities, and a large market in home and commercial decor as well as plant gifting are some of the factors that the company is banking on in the near term.