Her love for nature turned her dreams into reality. When Preeti Narula’s corporate job was giving her hard times, Living Balconies came to life. Nobody in her family understood the concept of giving up on a job and starting something of her own - but Preeti went ahead anyway.
Started in 2013, today Living Balconies is a one-stop showroom for all your gardening needs. From Garden Makeovers, Balcony Styles and Corporate Gardening – from gardening tools and products to gardening tips to making your home green and lush. This venture with real solutions is housed online.
We catch up with the gardener plus the inventor of Living Balconies. Preeti explains why it is necessary that every one of us should go natural.
Excerpts from an interview with SheThePeople.TV
What was the initial spark that put the idea in your head?
I was studying in London in 2011. It so happened that while roaming in the lush green streets of London, I thought of re-creating the beauty in my own country. With this thought in mind, I started Living Balconies. Since then there has been no looking back. We at Living Balconies are committed to creating beautiful green spaces and refreshing customers by bringing nature into your homes and offices.
I always nurtured a desire to do something that impacted people in the society. My corporate job couldn’t fulfil this aspiration. The very idea of leaving a high-paying job for an uncertain entrepreneurial journey was incomprehensible for my parents. With fear in my mind and excitement in my heart, I started Living Balconies in September 2013 with my own little savings.
Having worked with various big brands, I was finally giving up the safety of a monthly cheque for the joy of living my passion. Since then the journey has not been easy but definitely fulfilling. I gave myself an opportunity to express creatively and contribute to a cause that is very close to my heart.
What's the concept of 'Living Balconies' and what's your vision behind it?
Living Balconies designs green spaces for your homes and offices. It could be a balcony or complete green interiors of the house. ‘Green’ space imparts positive vibes and enhances the décor of the place. With green plants in the background, people tend to experience the stress-free environment. You also get to enhance your ‘natural intelligence’ when you have green elements in your space.
Living Balconies has successfully completed green make-overs for corporate, restaurants, schools, parlours, gardens and balconies. We also wish to roll out franchises all across India. We would love to see a green balcony in every apartment in India.
What are your deepest ambitions with 'Living Balconies'?
We wish to paint the spaces in your homes with different shades of ‘Green’ where people experience positivity, happiness and love in deep communion with mother nature. We aspire to create green abstract stress-free zones in offices which help to increase the employee productivity.
We would like to take it to 100 crore company in next ten years. Also, we would like to create a very high customer and employee satisfaction index.
What market gap are you trying to address by bringing Living Balconies in the market?
For balcony decors so far, only the untrained ‘Maali’ were available. So choices for balcony decoration was very limited and largely at the mercy of unskilled gardeners.
What makes you different from your competitors?
We have amalgamated greens with the décor. So now a customer can plan his interiors, balconies at the time of possession and we assist in Green Living.
How did you manage funding for the base operations initially?
I had been on an international assignment, so I had managed funds through my savings. We are however looking for funding in the near future to take it to pan-India.
What were the initial days like - what kind of challenges you've faced and still facing as an entrepreneur?
Our initial days were full of hard work. We had to look for right kind of vendors, right product. Also, it took us quite a while to streamline the value proposition, business models, and channels.
What skills do you think an entrepreneur must have to be successful?
Entrepreneurship requires different skills at different points of time. To start a business you need passion more than anything else to validate your idea and work on it unconditionally. Once you launch, you need people management skills to manage employees, vendors, and customers.
To start a business you need passion more than anything else to validate your idea and work on it unconditionally.
Also, once the rubber hits the road, you need to have skills that help you support think strategically.
I was largely helped by my mentor and coach Jyoti Gulati who is ex-VP of Citibank. She mentored me for key business skills, like marketing, sales, operations.
How do you think the digital boom in India is empowering women? How did it help your venture grow in the market?
Digital boom has taken us all by the storm. I feel empowered to connect to my customers through social media.
The rise of the woman entrepreneurs - Your view? How do you feel being amongst them?
Women entrepreneurship is on the rise these days as more and more women are feeling an imperative need to balance the key aspects of life, like career, relationship and children.
Also, since a woman is not the breadwinner of the house, she is always at an advantageous position to start her business than the male counterpart.
What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs?
I would like to quote late boxing legend Muhammad Ali with my favourite point being the second one.
- If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it.
- It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.
- The will must be stronger than the skill.
So dear friends never fear the journey of entrepreneurship, go and do well for yourself and society…
Also Read: Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face
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