FTB Stories

How Innovative Marketing Methods made Abhijeet Narayan a Successful Nursery Owner

Amit Bhatt
Amit Bhatt
Abhijeet Narayan in his Nursery

Abhijeet Narayan was interviewed on FTB platform by Vivek Rai. He is a resident of Patna, Bihar and owner of brand Green Shelter. He started this business in 2016 after working in Telecom Industry for 14 years. He hails from Muzaffarpur but has relocated to Patna. His pet project Green shelter deals with live plants and trees.

We initially requested Abhijeet to provide details about his business. He said he got into the nursery business because whenever he wanted to buy specific plants, he was not able to buy them because he was not able to identify nurseries where he could find the plants he wanted. The reason for this is that the nurseries in Patna did not advertise or promote their brand. With a background in Telecoms he knew the importance of promoting your brand. Keeping these factors in mind he started his own nursery business.

On being asked about the difficulties he faced when he got into this business, he replied that the first obstacle he faced was choosing what type of business to setup. He said for every startup you need to know your strength and weaknesses and then you should choose what field your startup will focus on. He clearly specified that he did not have knowledge of horticulture but he was naturally curious towards gardening. He said horticulture is a neglected sector in the state. General public must understand the importance that the trees and plants play in controlling pollution. These plants and trees, purify the air we breathe and if well maintained, provide chemical free food products. 

Abhijeet and his plants

He explained that another aspect of his business is home delivery. He said if pizzas get home delivered, why can't we deliver live plants? He said you need some investment as with any startup and complete the paperwork that the Government requires. He continued that nowadays Government has made the paperwork task very simple and with his experience of working for telecoms, he was able to clear the problems that surfaced with the new business. The other issue which he considered  most important was finding the right location for his venture. He wanted to find a location that would be convenient for the customers and logistically easy to maintain for himself. 

Next we asked him about the varieties available in his nursery. He started by explaining that his main offerings are seasonal plants. He said they buy all type of plants from farmers and some of the plants they grow themselves. He said his business is dependent on the farmers for this supply and he has tie-ups with some farmers. He said it's easy for the farmers to grow but they find it hard to sell their produce. He said he has the necessary marketing skills and 5 farmers are now associated with him of whom he sells the crops and other products. He said the strength of the farmers in production combined with his strength in marketing has made their venture a success. These farmers always prepare plants according to his specification. These farmers are based around Hajipur and he now plans to open a big nursery where he can grow his own plants. He currently also provides nursery grown saplings, seedlings for variety of plants.

Green Shelter Logo

He is planning to open this big nursery in Muzaffarpur with the help of expert farmers. He intends to sell the indoor plants and air purifier plants which at the moment are bought from Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata among other cities. He plans to grow these in polyhouses. These imported plants are expensive and he will be able to provide the same at low prices due to low cost in production and no transportation costs. 

When asked how does he market his products, he said trees, plants interest everyone. When he asked his friends about whether working in horticulture could be a successful business, 99 percent replied in affirmative. Most people want to see greenery in their house and in outside environment. He said in urban gardening the biggest challenge is where to find the ideal plant and to procure the right knowledge about growing it. Plants are a living thing and perishable. You need pot, mud and expert gardener to maintain your plant. You can't just buy one and leave it in a corner hoping that it will look after it itself. 

Keeping all these factors in mind he started his business. He provides home delivery services through bikes, gardening services available next day, setting up gardens and telephonic assistance from expert gardeners. They also prepared a gardening pamphlet which they distributed to attract more customers, in 2016-17. For further advertisement they have put up advertising banners in the main localities of Patna, along with the locality where there nursery is based.

Another low budget initiative that they started was "Nursery on Wheels". They converted three wheelers into mini nursery, by placing their pamphlets along with sapling and seedlings in them. This minivan also had pots, fertilizers, soil, vermicompost  and are driven through different localities of Patna on the weekends. This minivan was covered with banners and with an expert gardener who had solution to every gardening problem of the general public. He participated in every expo in Patna. Last year he attended two expos, firstly Destination Bihar expo held in Gandhi Maidan and secondly Women Empowerment arranged by Shell, held in Gyan Bhawan. He said he has used all methods to market the offerings of his nursery. He is available on justdial and Google. They sell their products through Amazon and Flipkart to customers outside Patna. He has worked  hard to promote his nursery on social media and work on an ecommerce website is underway.  

Then we asked him the state of his business and how he sees the future of his business. He replied that he started from zero and with no experience in horticulture. To learn about gardening he hired an expert gardener who talked with him and explained him the intricacies of gardening. His business was able to break even in 6 months time. This encouraged him as he now knew that there was money to be made. He said some people look down upon agriculture as a lowly business, but they are wrong. Agriculture is one of the  best businesses to work with. At the moment this sector is unorganized but it will be organized soon. Some branches of agriculture like horticulture can give you significant earnings. He said there is great demand locally for the plants but there is not enough supply. That's why he is trying to grow plants himself to meet the demand.

He continued that he is satisfied with the position of his business, especially with the income. His business is able to earn 1.5 to 2 Lacs per month even during the Corona pandemic. He said he started from zero and is satisfied with what he has achieved. He said he has participated in a number of contests to promote and make more money. He has also registered with the Bihar startup policy, from which he is expecting more investment to expand his business. He said at the moment he has one nursery in Patna and his expansion plan is to open nurseries all over Bihar - in Muzaffarpur, Gaya among other cities. He said nursery is a safe business with low investment and little training requirements. He said everybody needs plants. He expects thousands of people to join him and generation of employment.

You can start this business by hiring knowledgeable gardeners or take training in gardening for 2-3 months. He plans to expand his business by retail route. He said supermarkets provide a variety of products through separate sections, so why can't they add a gardening section with plants and tools? He aims to popularize his brand across Bihar and then expand his business India wide. 

When asked how interested persons can associate with him, he said a number of people come up to him and ask for advice or suggestions. He tells them about the challenges they will face and how to proceed. He said these interested persons can get in touch with him directly, at his nursery and through contact information like pone or email on his website. He said these persons can work with him or for him. Something he has noticed is that out of 1,00,000 plants sold each day only 25,000 plants are from Bihar and rest of 75,000 are imports into Bihar. This business will  make us self sufficient, even the  farmers would be self reliant. He said there are great opportunities in growing these plants within Bihar.    

He was then asked how is he contributing to the 'AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan', he said he has friends and people he knows who are unemployed due to various reasons including the Corona Pandemic or losses in their company. So far, he has helped 3 persons he knows, in setting up their gardening business and 1 of these is based in Delhi. However these curious individuals need lots of encouragement in setting up these businesses, especially in terms of investment. Although this is a low investment business, these persons don't have enough confidence and need to be motivated. To attain self sufficiency he is encouraging youngsters locally to take up gardening business and also encouraging farmers to grow these plants which have to be imported. 

Finally he gave his message to the FTB farmers. He said that you can take up this business as a side business along with cultivation of your main crops and you will get additional income. He repeated his call to grow indoor plants and air purifying plants locally, in Bihar. He suggested these farmers to grow Areca, Orchid, Hibiscus, Adenium  and other popular varieties.  There are some plants which can be grown throughout the year but are not available locally in Bihar. This is a big market that Bihar needs to capture. Once available, business men like himself won't need to import these and farmers will raise their earnings. He said on his part he is ready to provide seeds and saplings to these farmers. All they have to do is nurture these plants using their expertise and they will be able to have their share of profits. Through this we will proceed further and the farmers will proceed with us. Please click here to see the video for yourself.

Abhijeet Narayan

Abhijeet Narayan

Patna, Bihar

Green Shelter LLP

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