GreenNGood.com is an ecommerce store that exclusively sells environmentally responsible products of high quality at affordable prices. The name “GreenNGood” signifies the intersection of responsibility towards the environment and the society. Thus, the products on the store are not only ecofriendly but are also made with a concern for social empowerment, equity and preservation of traditional knowledge.
Q: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans: In this day and age of climate change and global warming, individual actions are as important as actions of large corporate. History has proved that it is the assertion of individual actions and choices that dictate what governments and businesses do. From winning freedom for countries to banning bottled water in cities, collective choice asserted by millions across the world is capable of solving the biggest of problems.
One such force, powerful enough to change the way our economic engines churn, is the power of consumerism.
Responsible consumerism or consuming with a concern for environment and societal welfare is one such phenomenon that promises to turn the gigantic wheels of capitalism in favour of sustainable development.
The vision of www.GreenNGood.com is to enable a happier and healthier world for all by leveraging the power of consumerism. Central to this vision is the idea of sustainable development. Today, technology is making it possible for people to live comfortable and happy lives without compromising the environment or their luxury. Products exist that are not only healthier for people but also save money and the planet in the long run. However, these are still not mainstream and for a significant positive environmental impact such products must replace conventional and non-green products at a large scale.
While most people do not contest the importance of such products, the main reasons for low adoption of such products are
- Poor awareness
www.GreenNGood.com was started in 2009 (as www.GreenAndGoodStore.com)to address these concerns and make eco-friendly (green) products a part of everyday life. GreenNGood.com is an ecommerce store that exclusively sells environmentally responsible products of high quality at affordable prices.
The name “GreenNGood” signifies the intersection of responsibility towards the environment and the society. Thus, the products on the store are not only ecofriendly but are also made with a concern for social empowerment, equity and preservation of traditional knowledge. Products sold are mostly certified organic, vegan, cruelty free and natural. They are sourced from Green entrepreneurs, NGOs and artisan communities. Most are fair trade certified.
www.GreenNGood.com is a thus culmination of two powerful emerging trends – (i) e-commerce and (ii) social responsibility.
We are based in Jaipur with a branch office in Delhi. However, being online store we can supply across India and also to several foreign countries.
Q: Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: Co – Founders – Aparna Bhatnagar and Vinay Choletti
Aparna and Vinay are the Co-Founders of GreenNGood.com. Both are MBAs from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. Aparna has worked with Dun & Bradstreet, Citibank, ICICI and M2i Consulting and has vast experience in developing data backed analytical solutions for Marketing, Finance and Risk management. She has also helped develop and implement analytics driven solutions for some of the leading Banks and Credit Bureaus in Central Europe and Middle East. She also holds a Masters Degree in Economics from Delhi School of Economics and a Bachelors Degree in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi. In 2008 she quit her financial consulting career and started the webstore www.GreenAndGoodStore.com (now changed to GreenNGood.com).
Vinay has worked for over 8 years with leading financial institutions such as American Express, Citibank and ITC in India and has vast experience in the fields of Sales, Marketing, Analytics, Business Planning and Portfolio Management. Vinay quit his 4 lakhs a month job to jump into entrepreneurship and joined the venture full time in 2011.
Vinay and Aparna, who are also husband & wife, started GNG out of a strong passion for making environmental change as part of everyday life choices. Finding it difficult to locate products that were truly Green and Good inspired them to create a webstore where likeminded people could find high quality Green products easily.
Q: How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: This is perhaps the single most important factor determining success! We have been very fortunate to have extremely dedicated and passionate people working for us! For a start-up it is very important that employees understand the challenges being faced by the company and the founders. Start-up employees need to take much higher levels of ownership and initiative at work. They need to approach problems holistically and often wear several different hats. Working at a startup is as challenging for the employees as it is for the founders of the business and thus finding the right people with matching set of values is of maximum importance.
Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Ans: Our work experience has tremendously helped us in running our business and managing processes and people. Our advice to college students would therefore be to gather some work experience before starting out as an entrepreneur. Working at a startup would help understand the kind of challenges they are likely to face with their own organizations. While, working with well-established companies will help understand how successful organizations work, what systems and processes are necessary. These come in very handy when one begins to design the organization and the business plan.
Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: We think a successful entrepreneur needs to have the following skills
- Ability to look far into the future – Farsightedness
- Courage to take up a new idea and go against conventional thought
- Perseverance or grit – ability to stick to something, no matter what happens.
Q: How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: Being an entrepreneur is a 24×7 job! On an average we work 14-16 hours a day.
Q: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: Yes, there are many challenges that we have faced. Right from finances to sacrificing living together for almost 3 years! However, knowing that you are working for something that will make a difference to the world you will leave behind makes it all worth it!
Q: What motivates you?
Ans: Our webstore is all about helping people make greener living choices and creating a positive impact on the planet and people through the products we buy and use. Our work directly impacts the world by substituting conventional products with greener products. Our work also gives a window to several NGOs artisans and small entrepreneurs who find it difficult to reach the market especially via the internet technology. The fact that we are able to something positive for our planet and people motivates us to do more each day.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: Freedom to stretch oneself and create something that hasn’t existed before!
Q: To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Ans: We think all of the 5 Ps are needed for success in a venture. And we would attribute our success to these too!
Q: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: Knowing that we are able to reach out to over 40 NGOs, artisan groups and green entrepreneurs and help people replace conventional non eco-friendly products with green products gives us tremendous amount of satisfaction. Even if we are able to make a difference in one person’s life it means a great deal to us!
Q: What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: As an entrepreneur you have to take tremendous amount of risk. You risk your savings, your comforts, your reputation, everything! While when you work for someone else you don’t take any of these risks. You can provide for yourself and your family and live a more secure life.
Q: What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans: We have a very informal culture at GNG. People are free to wear what they like, bring their pets to work, they are encouraged to take their own decisions and find ways of growing the organization. We don’t encourage finger pointing and blame game and instead all of work to solve any errors and problems as a team.
Q: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Ans: It’s definitely a roller-coaster ride.
Q: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: I admire Steve jobs and the mammoth reality called “Apple”. His life has been a roller coaster ride, right from starting Apple, being evicted and then getting back to the top of the company that he created. He is the greatest inspiration to any entrepreneur, especially in an industry like ours where you need create a need in the customer’s mind about the product, and make products that are truly world class and the second best actually is a distant second.