We live in an era of digitalization, yet only a few of us use it for a greater good. While majority of youngsters are killing their time sharing and tagging each other in memes, there are a few people who are trying to shape up the society through these funny memes.
Today’s story is of a 22-year-old boy from Chennai, Pavan Kumar Raghavendran, founder of PKR Greens and Consultancy. His startup aims at inspiring people to get into organic farming, terrace gardening, and cultivating a trend of giving plants as return gifts.
In talks with KenFolios, Pavan tells about his journey.
Pavan grew up in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. When he was in STD 12, he developed a terrace garden and became very passionate about gardening and growing food over the years. “In 2016, I finished my graduation in mechanical engineering and started interning with an automotive company. However, my mind was on something else. Adapting the machine-like environment was difficult for me. I decided to quit the company within three months to establish a social start-up, as I wanted to turn my passion into a profession,” he says.
It all started when Pavan had to sell his leftover plants from his terrace garden because he did not have enough pots. He posted the details of the plants on an online Facebook group, and fixed a price to sell them. “That’s when a lady responded and asked me to provide additional saplings, as she thought that we own a nursery. She wanted to give them as return gifts on her kids’ birthday. I just agreed,” he recalls.
Pavan bought saplings from a nearby nursery and delivered them at her place. “It was the spark that made me start a plant sapling delivery service and also sell plants to give as return gifts. Over the time, I started getting more orders through Facebook and people suggested me to set up a terrace vegetable garden. I had a thought about how it added to the service.”
After delivering about 50 saplings through the Facebook group, Pavan decided to create his own start-up and named it PKR Greens and Consultants. He started helping people to grow vegetables at their terrace gardens. “We create awareness and influence people by conducting gardening workshops in residential complexes, offices, clubs, schools and colleges. The primary focus is on schools. We also do seed ball creation and free sapling distribution events in schools, as we want children to know where their food comes from,” he says.
However, the journey was not very easy for Pavan. He earned a mere amount of Rs 300 per day only if he was able to cover at least five home deliveries. He narrates his struggling phase, “I used to travel by public transportation, which had Rs 50 ticket for a day. There were times when I had to carry huge weight and deliver at places where public transport service was unavailable. I had stitched a big jute bag that could accommodate 30 plants.”
After a few months, people started recognising PKR Greens through social media and print publications. They took orders only via Facebook page. “We try to connect this social start-up with people by making them aware of their social responsibilities. Rather than giving advices, we share memes so that they can laugh and implement as well.”
His start-up has introduced people to an idea of giving plants as return gifts. “There is so much waste that is generated because of flamboyant materialistic things that people buy to gift. We hope that we will be able to change this practice and influence others to make better choices,” he says. Recently, the team provided 3,000 plants for the wedding reception of an Inspector General’s daughter. “The gift was truly appreciated by all the guests.”
Today, Pavan has a group of eight people working with him. In the span of 11 months, PKR Greens team has installed over 360 terrace gardens and conducted various workshops. “We have got some excellent reviews on our page that makes us work hard every day. Part of our earning goes back in the society in the form of free saplings,” says Pavan.
Pavan spends his time learning organic farming practices. He grows most of the plants from seedlings in his home garden. “So far, I have saved seeds for 19 types of heirloom eggplants, three types of bitter gourd and seven types of okra. I have started collecting rare seeds from other people to multiply them in my garden and preserve them for future. I also swap these seeds with other gardeners.”
However, Pavan does not have much insight and network in the business world. In the past 11 months, PKR Greens and Consultants have tried to reach every corner of Chennai, which was definitely not an easy ride. “Even though our goal is to use business to drive social and environmental impact, we have to work hard to create awareness. I am very happy pursuing my passion and contributing in my own way for a better society,” he concludes.