From the backyard to global e-commerce: the story of Organic Shop
In the last few years, organic products have gained widespread acceptance as consumers become more conscious about how the products they buy are produced and manufactured. Statistics show between 2002 and 2010 export of organic products from India has increased from 12 million USD to 125 million USD, and experts predict that it will hit one billion USD by 2015.
A lot of startups and social enterprises opened in this market, but there is one which was able to connect the entire sector in an e-commerce platform: Organic Shop. Founded by Manuj Terapanthi in 2010, it is right now the largest e-tailer for over 6,000 certified organic products. Organic Shop is a platform for both the local manufacturers and retailers of organic products in the country and consumers at large to facilitate transparent and seamless process of trusted marketing of organic products.
“We are passionate about organic products. We believe that the world is at a stage where our future generations are not secured, and exposed to harmful and questionable ways of producing necessary products like food, clothing, colors, cosmetics among others,” says Manuj. He is really committed to solving consumers’ problems in this sector. “Today’s consumers are busy to such an extent that they cannot keep a check on these products of daily requirements to ensure the health of their family. The scattered market for these products, growing health awareness among the urban class, and some extremely commendable business concepts of growing and developing organic products are all catalysts in bringing Organic Shop into existence. Our idea is to build awareness not only for the consumers, but also the industry so they can understand there exists a demand for their products,” adds Manuj.
Even though it is a pretty successful startup, the beginning was not so easy for Organic Shop. “We started with the idea in 2010 when we were ready with our business model, scouting for like-minded businesses who would share the passion or at least understand our vision. In 2011, we finally tested waters in India with a catalogue of 1200+ 100% certified organic products. With a team of four people in all, some strange ideas and a bunch of extremely limited funds, we managed to break even in the second year which was a surprise to us in the first place. This encouraged us tremendously and the team started to expand with the aim to reach out to the market more aggressively,” says Manuj.
Their growth was helped drastically by the funds they were able to raise. “In 2013, our small startup which was started in the backyard of my house got a funding of 30 lacs (INR) by Rajasthan Angel Investors Network (RAIN) which again took us to another level of inspiration to forge ahead leaving us assured that we are in the right business at the right time and with the right strategy. We beefed up our product lines, added new product categories, hence enriching our offerings. With the vision of making the largest catalogue of organic products, we have about 6000+ products with 45 registered brands that collaborated with us. We also invested in our marketing and branding activities in 2013 which we are very aggressively working on,” explains Manuj.
One of the main challenges they faced is setting up proper logistics. “Logistics is a huge responsibility when it comes to e-commerce. This is where we also see an opportunity to excel our model so as to ensure we remain flawless in delivering the products in the best of its condition, timely and win customer trust,” says Manuj.
Organic Shop experienced a good growth in the last few years, but they are still working to expand internationally. “We have very recently ventured into the European market with a view to bring the widest range of organic products. The deal has been signed officially in January this year. An extremely critical aspect of venturing into the European market first is that Europe has evolved as one of the leading markets and producers of organic products worldwide and this sector has not fully been tapped by the global players in the industry. This gives Organic Shop an opportunity to bring the best organic and green products to the end consumers and vice versa,” says Manuj.
Organic Shop’s story is a great inspiration for any entrepreneur: in three years they moved from being a startup working from the backyard of a house to a great global e-commerce website. What’s the secret? “Remain focused, do not lose patience and keep innovating and creating value for customers,” says Manuj.
What would be your advice to startups like Organic Shop? We would love to read your comments.
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