From One Abundant Produce To A Fully Fledged Startup, How Did It Happen?
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Sometimes you don’t choose entrepreneurship, it chooses you. You take a small step towards it and you wouldn’t even know after all this time immersed in work that you’ve become an entrepreneur.
A classic example of this is Likhita Bhanu, founder of Terra Greens Organic who says, “I was solving a problem and before I knew it, I was a business woman.”
When asked how it all began she remembers how she took a year off after college to spend time with her mother. She decided to help her with farming, a hobby her mother enjoyed. And as if it all happened in an instance, Likhita says with enthusiasm, “It just so happened that we had abundant produce one season and we had to sell it, and we did.”
This is how TerraGreens originated, an organic food company led majorly by women entrepreneurs who firmly believe in healthy and ecologically balanced farming practices, or simply, organic farming. Mapping her journey, she took us back to the beginning and showed how this mother-daughter duo gave a creative approach to everyday organic food.
How did your entrepreneurial journey begin?
My mother has always been driven towards agriculture and organic cultivation was her hobby. She started cultivating and practising organic cultivation in the 90s itself. We used to grow the produce and distribute to our family and friends. Whenever we had excess, we’d give them to local organic shops.
We started TerraGreens with an idea that came from a passion to provide unadulterated and genuinely organic food to all. My family is fortunate enough to own farms where we produce organic food for our consumption. We wanted share this joy by offering a farm to table organic and ready to cook food to millions of consumers and become the genuine source for organic foodstuff they can trust completely and that’s how TerraGreens was born. Once we began our TerraGreens journey, we developed a network of farmers who we educate and train them to adapt to newer organic farming know-how consistently. Today, we are take immense pride to make available genuine organic food to consumers, as well as provide a market to thousands of farmers from all over India.
How is your startup different from other platform selling organic products?
Because of our belief that lack of time should not mean lack of nutrition.
Awareness with respect to organic food is on the rise and people have realised that consuming food grown using unnatural and harmful inputs is not good for their well-being. This has created a need for genuine, high quality staple and ready to cook organic food which TerraGreens aims to fulfil. We as a company also promote healthy eating.
With this concept, we launched a line of ready to cook breakfast series which have healthy alternatives and options in millets as well.
Currently, Terra Greens produces about 92 staple products and a line of 8 ready to cook products. Our organisation is working on reviving ancient grains and making products which are ready to cook to popularizer them. Currently we are growing at a rate of 80% year on year.
Having your mother as a co-founder is interesting. How does that work out with you and the rest of the team?
My mother has been my mentor in my entrepreneurial journey. Her passion, commitment and her belief in farming and working with farmers had tremendous impact in my life and in my startup journey.
Sometimes, when we bite off more that we can chew, she is always there to bring us back to reality, which provides the necessary balance to our organisation.
Working with farmers and mother together is one thing that has impacted our company greatly. What excites all of us is our customer feedback on our product quality and the smiles that we see on our farmers face who see us a trustworthy partner. That does bring a lot of responsibility, but we work as a single unit and our only one focus is to provide genuine, high quality food to all our customers.
Now that you are an entrepreneur, how have you changed?
I feel I am a completely different person to what I was before I started the business. I was very inexperienced and I think that was my major drawback. But I learnt a lot in my journey and most importantly, I listened and took responsibility when something went wrong.
I think most entrepreneurs get stuck with their idea of how the business should be and do not listen to people. It’s important to know what’s right for the business and you will only know that if you speak to your employees and your customers and change constantly for the better.
What has been you craziest moment since the inception of your startup?
I can’t pin point one thing but once, a family friend came to my house and asked my father if he knew about this amazing company called TerraGreens and that he was eating TerraGreens’ millets and it has really helped him with his joint pains and he suggested to my father to try the brand.
I think it was really a pleasant surprise to me that someone would recommend the brand to my father and that was when I felt really proud to be doing what I do.