The story of Hoovu started a long time ago - both us (we’re sisters, if the names didn’t give that away) - grew up on floriculture farms: for as long as we can remember, we grew up hearing about harvest cycles, auction prices and freight rates.
Our father started his rose farm in 1994, the year Yeshoda Karuturi was born. He then grew to have farms in India, Ethiopia and Kenya. Along the way we saw how the industry changed dramatically - from unorganised, fragmented markets to the setting up of the International Flower Auction Bangalore, the first exports of cut roses from Bangalore and the awe-inspiring Kenyan farm, which was the world’s largest rose farm.
We both have also worked at Karuturi, our family business - Yeshoda as the Executive Director and Rhea during her quarters off. While working in the cut flower industry, we saw first hand the enormous scalability in the industry, but what was shocking is that while bouquet flowers are big, most Indians don’t actually interact with flowers in that way.
Most Indians interact with traditional flowers - jasmine, marigold, chrysanthemum, bud roses etc - every single day. They use it in their morning prayer, to decorate their hair, to hang up in their auto, car, offices. Traditional flower usage is a ubiquitous need, just like the daily newspaper or milk.
And yet this enormous sector of the flower market - making up 481,907 acres of production in India - has barely changed in the last 3 decades. The supply chain is still incredibly fragmented, unorganised and the wastage is as high as 40%. That’s around 192,000 acres of land being used to produce flowers that are just thrown away.
Flowers are passed through multiple levels of handling, and by the time they reach the end customer, it’s been 36-48 hours since their harvest, with no cold chain or proper care.
We saw an enormous opportunity here - with our experience in agriculture, we’re able to partner with farms to reduce the turnaround time to 12-24 hours. Innovation in the packaging helps us extend the flower shelf life by 2x to 5x, something unheard of in the current industry.
We want to do for puja flowers what we saw happen to cut flowers - a supply chain that works, that adds value to the farmer and the end customer.
We are building a company to achieve something really simple: to make flowers a way of life for millions of households across India.
About the Founders:
Yeshoda Karuturi has a Masters in Accounting and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Washington University in St Louis. After graduating, she worked for Karuturi Global, once the world's largest producer of roses, as the Executive director with a focus on the Company’s overseas operations. In her role, she built a machinery rental business in Ethiopia with a focus on being able to create effective controls for the business that was scalable and practical, given the technology constraints within the Ethiopian agriculture industry.