With foliage cover shrinking in big, dense cities, people are increasingly opening up their homes to startup innovations in the green space, especially vertical gardens.
While nurseries offer this as part of landscaping, startups such as Green Drops, The Living Greens and Four Leaf are offering innovative designs and bringing in technology to offer these vertical gardens in small and big apartments, balconies and commercial establishments.
Pune-based Green Drops has done 35 installations in commercial establishments, villas and apartments after opening up about two-and-half years ago. “Our first project was at a luxurious villa, and that gave us an opportunity to gain momentum in this business,” said Supriya Nikumbh, cofounder of Green Drops, who founded the company along with Bhairavi Shevade.
The fine arts graduates have come out with innovative designs and brought in technology, such as 3D visualisation, drip irrigation and use of recycled water to ensure less water usage in the vertical gardens. “We have installed the gardens in balconies and outer or inner walls of apartments, and customers buying new apartments find it within their budgets to go in for a new look,” said Nikumbh.
They are expecting revenue of Rs 60 lakh by next year, and have now launched a ready for installation three-foot square window garden. Nikumbh and Shevade plan to sell in online marketplaces and through offline channels across the country. “This innovation will help us launch our product across the country, instead of being restricted to Pune and Mumbai,” said Nikumbh, who plans to go in for VC investment by next year.
Jaipur-based The Living Greens has been shortlisted among agtech startups by agtech accelerator set up together by IIMA’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship and a-IDEA, the business incubator at Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s National Academy of Agricultural Research Management. The startup, which also offers rooftop gardening and organic vegetable growing besides vertical gardens, has been in the business since March 2013.
“Once I got into the ‘green walls’ space, we came out with a lot of innovations, such as using a soil-less medium which is lightweight and easier on walls, and also launched our own version of plant containers, rather than go in for the standard shallow plant containers,” said Prateek Tiwari, an agriculture engineer who has worked with companies such as Reliance Fresh and Walmart.
Tiwari has executed projects in Jaipur, NCR region, Dehradun, etc., and has a franchise presence in New Delhi. “We see a lot of demand in apartments for these green walls in balconies or terraces. In some homes, where there is ample sunlight, we plant herbs in the vertical gardens, which serve a dual purpose for customers,” said Tiwari. He has received Rs 45 lakh from angel investors so far and is aiming at a revenue of Rs 2 crore by March 2016.
Naren Bakshi, an angel investor from Silicon Valley and founder of TIE Rajasthan, has invested in The Living Greens. “I found a huge potential in what they are doing as greenery is almost nil in a state like Rajasthan, and is a shrinking phenomenon in all urban spaces today. Startups here offer quality innovations in this space at a cost that is one-eighth of the US market, and is bound to become popular in homes in the future,” he said.
As per Cushman & Wakefield, the Indian real estate market is slated to reach $180 billion by 2020, which includes residential and commercial spaces, and as this market grows, demand for innovative green practices, such as vertical gardens, is bound to see demand as well.
Dheeraj Godara, founder of Delhi-based Four Leaf Landscape, has launched vertical gardens as a separate vertical called ‘Bio Vertical Garden’. He launched the company in October last year and has so far executed projects worth Rs 2 crore in apartments and commercial spaces.
“With innovations such as drip irrigation and use of engineered soil, which is water retaining, we are finding a growing demand in homes as well as commercial spaces as customers are keen to add a green touch,” said Godara, who has executed projects in Mysore, Darjeeling, etc, and plans to execute projects worth Rs 6 crore by next year. “I will be going in for VC funding at that stage to scale up the venture,” he said.