HomeCrop is a Hyderabad-based urban farming startup that was founded in 2016, is the brainchild of four B.Tech graduates named Krishna Reddy, Manvitha Chennuru, Sai Krishna, and Sharmila Telly, with the goal of growing vegetables in a healthy and organic manner, as most vegetables on the market are grown using unsafe methods.
The startup takes a structured approach to kitchen gardens, offering to grow kits, user manuals, and maintenance follow-ups.
The four young entrepreneurs from Hyderabad believe that growing your own vegetables is the best way to eat and live healthily. They experimented with this in their own homes, and now, through their business venture HomeCrop, have assisted over 600 others in doing the same.
Before pursuing their respective master’s degrees, these four HomeCrop entrepreneurs attended the Vellore Institute of Technology for their engineering graduation.
Manvitha studied business management in London, Krishna specialised in tech entrepreneurship and worked in Singapore, and Sai Krishna finished his master’s degree in robotics in the US. Sharmila worked in the insurance industry in Hyderabad and Singapore.
Several years later, destiny brought them together even though they weren’t in the same stream or batch.
Manvitha first met her college senior, Krishna, and his wife, Sharmila. At an organic food fair, the group later ran across Sai Krishna. The four of them got together in 2015 with the intention of starting their own business, and they talked about a number of tech-related concepts.
“Sai Krishna suggested other ideas. Ultimately, the organic food segment caught our attention,” says Manvitha to The Hindu.
Hyderabad’s market for organic food was expanding, and the concept gained additional momentum due to personal factors.
“My niece was born in 2015 and I saw my sister-in-law trying to find organic food,” Manvitha recalls
The friends had concerns about a number of market items that were marketed as organic as they started their research on organic food. In Zaheerabad, Sai Krishna’s family owns a farm.
The four engineers who lead the startup have done extensive market research and they have talked to the people involved in the agriculture sector. They came to know that only a small portion of land across Hyderabad is actively practising organic cultivation.
“We felt strongly about food quality and safety. The vegetables we source from the market are laden with pesticides, the effects of which cannot be nullified by cooking. We felt the only way to counter this is to grow our own vegetables,” says Manvitha.
HomeCrop, a bootstrapped venture, is an urban farming business that was fostered at Hyderabad’s a-IDEA (Association for Innovation Development of Entrepreneurship in Agriculture), a technology business incubator run by ICAR-NAARM (Indian Council of Agricultural Research; National Academy of Agricultural Research Management).
Soil-less Grow Mix
Co-founders Manvitha and Sharmila, strategist and planner Krishna, and director Sai Krishna are all accountable for developing the soil-free grow medium used by HomeCrop. Ajay Beerla was then employed by the group as manager of sales and business development.
The team initially had its soil-free grow mix outsourced, but they discovered that the crop yield wasn’t adequate. To guarantee quality control, they started doing it themselves, with assistance from Sai Krishna’s farm. The growth of the plants accelerated.
One of their first terrace gardening modules was a metallic structure with a canopy and shade nets that resembled a miniature glasshouse. These were heavy, and 15 square feet of them cost between $15,000 and $20,000. Then, they unveiled more compact, lightweight garden kits. They come in kits for beginners for 2,000.
Smart grow bags composed of biodegradable geotextiles are used by HomeCrop.
“Geotextile is breathable and the roots grow better. When roots hit the plastic surface, they turn sideways. In geotextile bags, the root tips branch into finer roots. This enhances absorption of minerals from the grows mix,” says Krishna.
Current Working Model and Future Plans
The company sells kits across India on Amazon and has a website called HomeCrop.in. For outstation buyers, WhatsApp support and video training are provided. In Hyderabad, HomeCrop offers its clients user manuals, a structured service option, and beginner workshops on a regular basis at its office in Manikonda. Customers have the option to schedule HomeCrop for monthly or bimonthly troubleshooting visits.
Hyderabad-based actress Samantha and other celebrities have enlisted the startup’s help to build their home gardens because of its reputation in the industry.
Urban farming is being discussed by the organisation with businesses, corporations, and real estate companies that want to inspire students, staff, and residents to get their hands dirty and develop a closer relationship with food.
HomeCrop is attempting to expand its reach into additional Telangana and Andhra Pradesh cities through collaborations.