City Greens uses Zoho Sites to brand its urban farming business
- URBAN FARMING
Founded in 2017, City Greens is the largest privately owned research center in India for hydroponic urban farming. A bootstrapped setup, Gaurav Narang and his team started small and commercialized the product over time to make a success story out of it. Narang initially ran a startup in the healthcare domain. “Most of the patients we dealt with had lifestyle-related issues. Nothing could be better than prevention of such ailments,” observed Narang. The team began studying the food ecology in the country and realized that the reality of organic food was different from what was popularly understood. “We thought it would be even better if people could grow their own food.”
"While hydroponics is a bit sophisticated and needs some expertise, people Narang wanted to create a platform where people could learn about hydroponics and undergo training. He also needed a place where potential customers could learn more about his business, including its history and mission.
City Greens initially ran its website on WordPress. Several plugins were required for every additional ecommerce need. Being a startup, City Greens was not able to spend much on servers. Narang also runs multiple farms for his clients and was storing most of the data in Excel spreadsheets. He notes that, after a while, this approach "became cumbersome for daily reporting."
Also, every time there was some technical effort involved with respect to the website, it took the attention of the team away from the product. And that is when the team started looking at other options.
Narang began using Zoho Sites in 2019. There were practical reasons why the switch to Zoho made sense for the company and its employees. As users of Zoho Books, they already knew the company and Zoho's capability for handling data loads.
The first few months of the pandemic were not easy for City Greens. Challenges came on the revenue side. But when things opened up, City Greens earned thrice the revenue in the very first month of things opening up. “A lot of creative people have been homebound and have been looking to pursue some hobby actively," Gaurav says.
With the Zoho Forms integration, clients can now fill in their data, and it automatically goes back to the team in an organized fashion.
Benefits & ROI
"The main advantage of Sites was that the designs were responsive, and we did not have to bother on that front," says Narang. "I am not a techie; I cannot code a single line. But I have been able to create this website without hiring an expert." During the peak of the pandemic, we ran our training on Zoho Showtime and after that we have been using Zoho Show for our offline sessions."
Today, the products of City Greens are being used by people in more than 600 cities in India. Apart from Sites, Gaurav is also using Commerce to run his onlne store, which is also completely integrated with the Zoho ecosystem.
"[Zoho] Commerce gives you a store which people visit to buy and leave. But we also need a website that serves as a point for people to know the history of the brand and what it does. [Zoho] Sites is ideal for branding. It is also possible to educate our buyers on hydroponics, and we used blogs to do that. The form on the website is used as a means of lead generation for our B2B business."- Gaurav Narang, Founder and CEO
City Greens has been providing training for many hydroponic farmers across the country to enable the ecosystem of urban faming. Their website has become a point of reference for many urban farmers who are trying to replicate this model of success. City Greens has also received extensive coverage from the press, which is showcased on the website.
Over the last few years, hydroponics has become more accepted in the Indian market. “There are two kinds of customers we have," says Narang. The first kind are the hobbyists. "They learn and have fun growing food by themselves," he notes. The second kind are the commercial businesses. "We have started turnkey projects for large clients across the country.”
While City Greens is rooted in India, their eyes are set offshore. The facts, too, support this dream. After all, food sufficiency is an important global goal.
To learn more about Ramakrishna Mission, visit their website https://www.citygreens.in/