The brainchild of IIM-Ahmedabad and ISB alums, Urvann is India’s first hyperlocal marketplace for plants and gardening products. Established in 2021, it aims to revolutionise the way India buys plants.
By partnering with local nurseries in a city setting, Urvann provides the largest variety and next-day delivery of fresh plants at the lowest prices. It is different from traditional players who courier plants from one city to another, leading to high packaging and delivery costs and suboptimal plant quality.
While the pandemic took a toll on our everyday lives by presenting unprecedented challenges, we faced another major challenge in our terrace garden in Delhi. During the first wave, the government-mandated lockdown allowed us to spend more time with our plants. But we soon realised that gardening would not be too much fun, with no way to get new plants and fresh supplies for our garden as the nurseries around us did not sell online. While there were other online players, the prices they were charging were exorbitantly high, and the variety was minimal.
We then focused our energy on taking online gardening classes for plant parents across India. What started as a one-time weekend experiment turned into a weekend ritual. Every weekend we would take classes across a range of gardening topics. People from all parts of the country would attend these day-long workshops. Over 6 months, we connected with more than 3000 plant parents across India.
As we conducted these classes, we realised that the lack of an online option for purchasing plants was a problem that people all over India faced. To bridge this gap, we started our first venture, The Banyan Company (TBC)—a marketplace for plants and gardening products—in October 2020. While everything was going fine, as the weather got warmer, the complaints on the platform started rising. The sellers also started offering only a limited variety of plants. Because plants are living products, they cannot be easily transported from one part of the country to another, especially during the summer. During these months, we also discovered that packaging and shipping of plants incur significant costs, which are reflected in the prices.
Customers would often receive plants that were not fresh enough due to transit shock from long transportation times, even after spending up to five times the offline prices. We realised that the traditional e-commerce model could never solve the challenges of the gardening industry and hence decided to make the entire model hyperlocal. As we conducted market research and spoke with local vendors, we discovered that not only were customers looking for better ways to buy plants online, but nurserymen, who had been severely impacted by the second wave of Corona, also wanted to take their businesses online. However, the current marketplaces were not within their reach due to the complex onboarding, listing, and packaging requirements. Realizing this huge opportunity, we decided to leave our consulting careers to pursue our passion for plants and build Urvann.
The name Urvann is derived from two words: Urban and Vann. At Urvann, we provide a platform for nurserymen to list their products and start selling online, while we take care of the entire logistics and after-sales support. For the customers, we enable them to buy plants and all gardening products from the convenience of their home, at offline prices, and ensure fresh plants through our unique packaging-free delivery model.
We started our operations in August 2021 in Delhi-NCR, and have been overwhelmed with the results.
In this short period, we have sold more than 30,000 plants. We have 5000+ SKUs on our website, sold by 30+ vendors. 90% of Urvann’s vendors sell exclusively on the platform, with no other online presence. Our customers love the value we bring and come back to us repeatedly. We are proud of the impact that we are creating in the industry and are excited about making Urvann India’s biggest store for all plants and gardening products.