230 / October 13, 2023

Why India Worships Bhagwan With Puja Flowers | Hoovu Founder

91 Minutes

230 / October 13, 2023

Why India Worships Bhagwan With Puja Flowers | Hoovu Founder

91 Minutes
Listen on

About the Episode

This week’s episode is a SURPRISE feature with an UNEXPECTED host! Our co-founder Nansi Mishra takes on hosting duties as she looks at why Indians worship Bhagwan using puja flowers in Hinduism as we welcome Rhea Karuturi, co-founder of Hoovu Fresh, to the Neon Show!

What Was It Like Growing Up In Ethiopia & Learning From The World’s Best Rose Exporter?

Additionally, What Are Some Practices Indians Use While Praying With Puja Flowers?

What Is Rhea’s Family’s Relationship With God?

How Difficult Is It To Be A Woman Entrepreneur In India?

All these fascinating topics and more in this CAPTIVATING & INFORMATIVE conversation. A real look into the inner workings of faith in India & how impactful Puja flowers can be in Hinduism with a woman that’s only began the start of her highly successful journey… Tune in NOW!

Watch all other episodes on The Neon Podcast – Neon

Or view it on our YouTube Channel at The Neon Show – YouTube


3 Lessons Learnt From Rhea Karuturi | A Newbie’s Perspective


1. All Indians have their own religious practices & reasons for praying

India as a whole is very multi-cultural in the sense that we have so many different religions that are preached. However, Rhea noted that the way these religions are practiced is not just different in a larger communal sense but from family to family as well. Her reasons for praying which is to be closer to her family is very different from her mother’s which is to be closer to Bhagwan. She denotes her cause of Hoovu Fresh to teach Indians to be more God-loving rather than God-fearing.

2. The “Imposter” syndrome that entrepreneurs go through

Entrepreneurs in general go through an imposter syndrome as such quick success in such a young period can be very daunting and challenging like it has been in Rhea’s case. At only 27, she is handling Bangalore’s largest fresh flowers company. However, this is a pattern that we have noticed many founders go through and it suggests that entrepreneurs are even more human than we give them credit for. They feel guilt & uncertainty at the same level as we do!

3. Rhea has a confident demeanour but is also aware of her limitations
On a personal note, the very first thing I noticed about Rhea was the way she held herself before and after the podcast. She had a way with words (likely from her literature background) & she eloquently put her views forth. However, she was also very frank about her role in Hoovu Fresh & her limitations within the company compared to her sister Yeshoda which was really refreshing and eye-opening to see!

Nancy Mishra 00:00

You have been into building Hoovu for last three, four years?


Rhea Karuturi 00:05

4 and a half, we got a deal from both of them through Shark Tank. There’s 40% wastage in this market, the farmer who has like two acres of land throwing away almost one acre worth of crop that kind of what drew us to the whole thing. Most people will not understand what it takes to build a big business. Supporting you is not the friends who put up a post when you do really well. It’s the people who understand like why you’re showing up two hours late Why you look dead. I think those are the friendships that last.

Nancy Mishra 00:42

The flower market makes up almost five lakhs of acres of production in India. The wastage is as high as 40%. Our guest Rhea Karuturi started a business in the flower industry to reduce the wastage. But here we will not talk about her business Hoovu as they appeared on Shark Tank. But what we will talk about here is why young Indians are choosing entrepreneurship, what drives them? And what’s the battle for women in entrepreneurship like and I would also like to thank our sponsors, Prime Venture partners for sponsoring this show. Time to meet Rhea.


Nancy Mishra 01:16

Hi Rhea, Welcome to the neon show.


Rhea Karuturi 01:18

Hi, Nancy. Nice to be here.


Nancy Mishra 01:19

How are you feeling today?


Rhea Karuturi 01:20

Good. Thank you so much for having me. And having us Share our Hoovu story.


Nancy Mishra 01:25

Here, it’s our pleasure. And you were in bank and it’s Saturday. Certainly you’re not having any weekend, right?

Rhea Karuturi 01:32

Yeah, I mean, I think from the August and November period, we don’t really have any weekends at all. Just festive time. So yeah, it’s okay, though.

Nancy Mishra 01:40

So the before we dive deep into the conversation, I would also want to share with our listeners how we got connected. So we have a WhatsApp group. All these female founders are part of that Whatsapp group. And we ask for help any kind of help if you want to hire or if any of your friend is looking for job, you ask all kinds of help in that group. So part of my job, I cold email to all these potential guests and reach out to them. So I wanted to have Malavika from CCD. She is the CEO of CCD. And I really re- spect her and wanted to bring her on the show. And I message in the group if anyone is connected with her and Rhea messaged me, and I really liked the way she tried to help me out. And she said if I can share a brief message for Malavika, and I shared a message. And she shared that message with Malavika. And the kind of message I got from Malavika. Yeah, and I was just amazed. She not only, you know, she declined, because she thought this is not the good time for her to join the podcast. But the way she appreciated our efforts, and she congratulated us for the efforts we were putting and the launch and everything. It was just amazing. And I really like the way you tried to help me out.


Rhea Karuturi 03:03 Now, I mean,


Nancy Mishra 03:04 Thank you so much!


Rhea Karuturi 03:05

No, I’m so glad. First of all, being on that group. With all of those amazing female founders. I always felt like a little bit of an impostor. Just like I’ll just keep quiet. But so wonderful to see them all interact. Yeah. And then of course, so Isha and Hegde and Amartya Hegde they are our investors. So her sons. So that’s how I kind of made the connection. And like, yeah, like you said, what a class act the way that she responded, it was so amazing. It was so nice. And yeah, I’m happy to connect people if I can.


Nancy Mishra 03:36

Right, I think it’s a privilege to be in that Whatsapp group. And I also try to find a way to help everyone because you feel very small that Oh, my God, all these women are they’re part of the group how you can also contribute and add value to all of them.

Nancy Mishra 03:53

So yes. Rhea, I read on your website, that your fa- ther’s business Karuturi business was once India’s largest exporter of roses in the world. Yeah. I want to know about if you can share those days, like watching your father as a little girl, and building like he’s building the business from scratch. How were these those days?


Rhea Karuturi 04:19

Yeah. So actually, our journey with roses starts pretty much from our childhood. So my mom and my dad actually started together. And he started with a small farm in Chikkaballapur in Bangalore. And it was a 94. So the same year that my sister Yashoda was born


Nancy Mishra 04:34

I was also born in 1994!

Rhea Karuturi 04:36

Oh, nice. Yeah. So yeah, that’s how they started out. And, you know, as kids, there was really no sepa- ration between the so we lived in this apartment, which was right next to that office building. So like we could look out a window and see the office and we would often walk there after school and all that stuff. And you know, weekend’s our parents would be like road trip and they would take us to the farm, and then they would just be working the whole time. So it was really wonderful to see that journey. And you know, our parents kind of going to Kenya and buying that farm, I don’t think they expected it, let alone anyone else. And then becoming the world’s largest rose cultivator and stuff like that. I think it was amazing. Like, I think we saw the stress that they went through the, you know, the hardships and the midnight calls and everything. I remember, my parents used to have a walkie talkie next to their bed, you know, back then. And they would get a walkie talkie in the middle of the night be like, the generator has like burst into flames. And then they would like rush to the farms and stuff. It was crazy. And, you know, as kids, there’s really nothing more that you can ask for like to be exposed to that much ambition and drive and hard work has such..


Rhea Karuturi 04:37

So, You guy’s were in Bangalore?


Rhea Karuturi 05:44

So we mostly grew up in Bangalore, but we also lived in Ethiopia for a bit. And then we used to travel to Kenya all the time.


Nancy Mishra 05:51

And it was all for the business?


Rhea Karuturi 05:53

Yeah, for my for the business. I’m both appearance worked, actually. So my..


Nancy Mishra 05:57

You’re mother was also into?


Rhea Karuturi 05:59

Yeah, so my mom and dad worked together. And then my grandmom used to live with us. So she would kind of be at home with us all the time. And yeah, it was amazing. And I remember when we were little kids, like, for our birthdays, we would always go to the farm and you know, distribute things and stuff like that. And my granddad would always be like that he would introduce Yeshoda, and he’d be like, this is the CEO, you know, she’s going to take over and then he’d be like, This is Rhea, you know, because as a second, but you know, like from such a young age, especially as girls to have someone be like, this is a huge thing that your parents are building and like, you better buckup so you can take care of it in the future. Like I think that was amazing. And yeah, super proud of my parents today, So.


Nancy Mishra 06:40

SO, they were in India, like in Bangalore. Then they went to Kenya and set up the farm. So they were always wing around.


Rhea Karuturi 06:48

Yeah, they were always jet setting around. I remember. So I have a younger sister. She’s 10 years younger. And she was born when this whole madness was happening with Ethiopia, Kenya and stuff. And my dad would like, feel so guilty because he was travelling so much. He would buy her a tooth- brush every time he went somewhere. And I think she had like 60 toothbrushes before she had enough teeth to brush, you know, so they were all over. But one thing that they did really well is that they really prioritised? Like, these are the boundaries that I’m not going to cross as a family. So like every birthday, they were always in town, no matter like, like what was happening in the world. And they always made sure that you know, as much as possible to take us with them as well. So we were part of the journey.


Nancy Mishra 07:29

And just out of curiosity, I’m asking like, what were the early days for your father, if you can remember, like, starting a business in 1994, and an offline business? What did he think? And if he ever shares that with you?


Rhea Karuturi 07:43

Yeah, we talk about a lot now actually, yeah, I think as kids, you’re just like, Oh, my parents are doing something. Yeah. But


Nancy Mishra 07:51

Then you were small, you don’t appreciate those things. Yeah. Then when you grow up? And yeah, kind of start understanding your parents. Much better.


Rhea Karuturi 07:59

Yeah. And I think honestly, starting, Hoovu brought us a lot closer to our family, like, we thought not working in the family business would like be, you know, something that would create distance, but we understand what they went through now kind of having our own baby and being obsessed with it. And every time we’re like, oh, you know, like, two people are having a relationship in the office. And then there’s a third person, and all of a sudden, they’re like, Oh, we’ve done this hundreds of times. Yeah. Which is nice. But when I was a kid, actually, Yashoda and I both would get asked all the time, because we’d be like, Oh, my dad sells roses. Because you know, as a kid, you don’t know how to say it better. And people will be like, can you afford to be at the school like what’s going on? So I don’t think we real- ly understood it then. And my dad has this really nice story of how he was looking for roses for my mom, and he couldn’t find it. So he started a farm. The actual story, I feel like I can say it now. It’s been enough time. My dad obsessively reads the news. And at that time, he is actually applying for jobs in America. But one day, he came across this ad for a subsidy for this floricultural Land, it was being pro- moted by the government a lot back then. And then he was like, you know, why not? He had no experi- ence at all. And he just kind of jumped in with both feet.


Nancy Mishra 09:12

And he doesn’t come from business background?


Rhea Karuturi 09:15

He does come from a business background. So my granddad also, like was an entrepreneur. My granddad actually started as a farmer. And then he started like a cable business and he had like a pen- cil factory. And he just I think he just loved business more than any particular field. So I think that gave my dad a lot of confidence as well. He wasn’t working with the family business at all. At that point. He wanted to do something on his own. But yeah, so then he just jumped into Roses. He was like, you

know, I’m sure I can figure it out. And he’s like one of those people who’s very curious, like, he loves learning new things. So yeah, he just today he knows everything about roses like we always say that his fourth child, you know, like when he goes in, he talks to his rose plants in the fall and yeah, and he like check every leaf and he will Know way ahead of time if the any diseases are gonna affect a Green house and stuff like that. So I think he just like really fell in love with what he was doing. So.


Nancy Mishra 10:07

So this happened before he got married with you’re mother like this happened before marriage or ?


Rhea Karuturi 10:12

none of the 94 is when he started. So, Yeshoda was just born. So it’s like, I think two years into my par- ents being married?

Nancy Mishra 10:20

And how’s your like, I’m very much curious for, for like to know your relationship with your parents and your parents relationship with each other? Because I answered that we are also entrepreneurs and but it feels when you are co founder, also your wife also? Yeah, how was your How was their relationship has?


Rhea Karuturi 10:43

Yeah, so you know, like, parents often have like, Good cop, bad cop. My parents like to get way further than that. Were even in the office, they would always do that. So I can always like, you know, you miss kids, like, we would just go and sit in the office and be doing homework or colouring book or whatever. And then we would see, you know, our dad would be like, so sweet and nice to people. And then they would come to my mom to release the payments. And she’d be like, no, she was like the Stonewall.

She’s like, I need every receipt, I need everything. But it was amazing. You know, like, I, it was never that my mom was working for my dad or my dad was working for my mom, it was that they were truly partners in everything that they did. And you know, one thing that I still remember that they still do to this day is they will go on these long walks, which seems very romantic, but they only talk about busi- ness on these walks, and they’ll come back and they’ll have so many ideas that they would have dis- cussed with each other. And you know, seeing that kind of trust and synchronisation that they both have, it was just amazing. Like, I always thought like, you can’t build a business unless you have a partner because of kind of seeing them


Nancy Mishra 11:50

A lonely journey. Yeah, to have someone to share.


Rhea Karuturi 11:53

Yeah, and the way that they balance out each other skill sets, they both are such different people, like, I probably would not be able to find more different people at all. But their skill sets, like their personali- ties, everything kind of complement each other rather than clash with each other, even though it’s so different. And honestly, even with Yeshoda myself when we were thinking about starting, it was a little bit scary, because we were like, Oh, what if we fight, you know, like Indian siblings, you know, it’s al- ways a thing. But when we were having a discussion, we were like, if mom and dad was so different, can you it? Probably we can as well. And I me and Yeshoda very different people as well. So like maybe we can complement each other instead of kind of clashing. And I think that’s what’s happened with our journey overall. So that was really cool to

Nancy Mishra 12:38

It’s a fact that all siblings fight no matter. They’re Indian or from what country? We all fight and crazy fights happen. Yeah. So what’s that one annoying thing about you? That Yeshoda the find’s?


Rhea Karuturi 12:55

Yeah, I think just listing one would be difficult. Honestly, I was a menace as a child, I feel so bad for your show that because since she was two years old, she’s been like the responsible old, very organ- ised she is. She’s a perfect child, honestly, like I remember as a kid, I would we would sleep in the same room, hones.. obviously. And then I would wake up in the morning, and I’d see and I’d be like, okay, she’s still sleeping. So I can also sleep for some more time, eventually, I would wake up at noon. And by then she’s lived her entire life. You know, from six o’clock in the morning, she’s up. My mom used to make timetables for us, she used to follow it to the dot, I used to lose it within one day. And I was like, How can I have such a perfect sister? It’s so


Nancy Mishra 13:35

It becomes a burden like, you also have to..


Rhea Karuturi 13:37

Yeah, 100% and all of my teachers were like, you know, Yeshoda’s so perfect. And they’ll be like, Oh, I’m so excited to have you in my class. And I was like, No!!! (Chuclkes) you know, I can’t tell you how many of my teachers continue to call me Yashoda after she left the school like three, four years ago also at that’s crazy. Yeah. So, you know, I used to really annoy her a lot. And honestly, she was the best older sister. I don’t even say this to be nice to her because it was a burden. How nice. She was, like, one of the popular stories from my childhood was we were on a road trip. And you know, she did she was saying something, I was saying something I got Irritated, and I bit her! and i bit her really, really hard when I was like maybe five years old to be biting. But like not old enough to really be upon in(In- audible). But I remember my parents were so upset because it was really, really bad. And you were like, apologise to her, and she’s crying and all that stuff. And I’m like, No, I’m not going to apologise to her.

And it got to the point where they’re like, we’re leaving you if you don’t apologise, you just have to apol- ogise right? Now. I was like, No, I’m not going to and all this stuff. But the thing that everyone remem- bers the most about the story is that Yeshoda was crying. Not because she was hurt, but because she was like don’t leave Rhea on the road. Like even at that point, and I was like, stop being so nice to me all the time. So yeah, I used to make her late for school every day. And you know, she used to just be like how I standing in the detention room like because of you. So yeah, I used to do a lot of things to annoy her, I hope that a lot of those things have changed overall. But you’ve also just like grown around.


Nancy Mishra 15:11

We should have a chat with her also. Yeah, you should. You should. After all this, your parents decided to have another kid.


Rhea Karuturi 15:18

Yeah, probably. Like, maybe you will try third time No, honestly, I younger sibling, I think is like the joy of our family. Like, she’ll be so modified to hear that. But honestly, like, I think we all love her the most.

And I think even

Rhea Karuturi 15:33

It happen’s with all the younger kids?


Rhea Karuturi 15:34

All the younger kids. And there’s a 10 year gap between me and her, right. So I think for all of us, she was like, Oh, my God, like she’s the most special person and continues to be the case today. She’s ap- plying for colleges this year. And like, we’re all on tender hooks because we’re like, what are we going to do? And she’s gone. But like, should we get a pet? Like, what should we do? So yeah, I think I think it was great for my parents to because they got to like, enjoy her childhood, probably a little bit more than they enjoyed our childhood because they were working.


Nancy Mishra 16:03

So, this is something all parents say like, I have a three year old kid, four year old now. And he’s a boy. Total wild. And after him. I don’t want to have another boy. Any child. I’m tired, exhausted.


Rhea Karuturi 16:19 Hear this when he’s grown


Nancy Mishra 16:21

Yeah, its truth. I’m tired, exhausted. Yeah. And he’s like, so naughty. So, So, parents tell me these sto- ries that they should have a sibling, I have a younger brother, and I have a great bonding with him. So when I see him, when we are spending quality time with each other, and I see here on anything, the only thing I think about, Kabir is going to miss this kind of relationship. But now I think it’s not possible for me, weakly and emotionally.


Rhea Karuturi 16:54

Honestly, it’s so one of my best friends is an only child. And I’m her sibling. Like they get to the point where a parent like we started looking similar, I think at some point in our childhood, because we still spend so much time together. So I feel like people find their siblings in life like either through biology or through like, just


Nancy Mishra 17:13

I don’t not sure I see that after. Yeah. And we meet 10 year or 20 year. kids when they have to look out for relationships outside their family their more strong. Yeah. Because they know they have to find someone who they can connect with. Yeah, it will be difficult for Kabir. But I think


Rhea Karuturi 17:30

I think it’d be a good difficulty. Yeah, yeah.

Nancy Mishra 17:33

And yeah, I also saw in one of your videos, where Yashoda was mentioning that the idea to start Hoovu came when she watched your mother praying, so just want to know, how’s your relationship with God, like as a family?


Rhea Karuturi 17:53

So as a family, we’re very religious, I would say like, I mean, just yesterday, we had like a big puja at home and stuff like that. My mom is definitely like the driving force of that. It’s really funny because

even compared to my grandparents to her like, she’s more Religious than them. Like as a kid, she would like do the puja at home and like, then run off to school and stuff like that. Like she,


Nancy Mishra 18:16

like she has three kids. And she has a business to manage. And she’s religiously like doing puja with all the steps possible. Yeah, she


Rhea Karuturi 18:24

Yeah, She start’s like 5am Like at 5am. And hear her chanting and stuff. Like she’s one of those crazy supermoms that you hear about. But yeah, also, my grandma lived with us for the longest time. So I think they like balanced each other out. So she’s definitely the most religious My dad also like, has been on and off his whole life. Yashoda actually teaches the Bhagavad Gita so she also is fairly reli- gious, I don’t think into the ceremonial part as much but very spiritual. I would say I’m probably the least me and Shreya my youngest is probably the least Pooja oriented in the family, which makes it interest- ing being in the puja space, because I think we just have to learn a lot from our customers and like hear what it means to them. And something that I always share with people you know, a lot of young people will be like, What is this puja? What does it mean and stuff like that? I will share that when I went to col- lege of course my mom sent these like small God idols with me. And you know, whenever walk back from classes are always pick a few flowers from the bushes and put it there. But for me, it wasn’t really about puja, it was It wasn’t about God as much. It was more about okay, I’ll take a picture and send it to my mom and my grandma. You know, like that was my connection to Puja and God. It was just a way of like connecting with them, which I think is actually true for a lot of people today. And I’m like, That’s not wrong. And that’s not bad. You know, it’s just a gateway into some kind of mindful practice.


Nancy Mishra 19:49

I think it’s a great way to connect with your family members also as kids, because Kabir also has a rou- tine. So he’s four year old doesn’t understand God or spirituality or any kind of these things but he has a routine with his grandmother, around four or five. They’ll go to the temple together and he’ll come back and show me his Teekha and he will be like, see i got a teekha(Talking in Hindi) they saw me so every time we are out, and we have any temple he’s like, Swami namaste, Krishnaji namaste(Chanting in Hindi). So it’s so sweet to really see all of those things. Yeah, I think he has found a great way to bond with his grandparents.


Rhea Karuturi 20:27

Yeah, like even I remember when Yeshoda was a baby because she was like the first grandchild and stuff. Like when she was a kid, I want to be like, say Namo. And then she like Namo like as a baby. It was so cute. I hear it. And then I remember Shreya when she was little kid, also she would be like, Mom, can you sing me songs? And I don’t think we ever asked our mom to sing a song. But my mom was like, okay, so she used to sing her Bajjan’s and then put her to sleep. And so that’s how Shreya learned a lot of those things too so, I think it’s like, human connections, right? Like, that’s what teaches you to love these things.

Nancy Mishra 20:59

Nice. And you have been into building Hoovu for last, I think, three, four years?


Rhea Karuturi 21:06 four and a half.


Nancy Mishra 21:07

Four and a half years. And you guys are doing puja flowers. So if you can tell us, what’s our relationship with God as Indians? We do puja differently. Yeah, in India?


Rhea Karuturi 21:21

Yeah, for sure. You know, India, as a country, I won’t even talk about Hinduism, specifically or anything is extremely religious. You know, there are some crazy stats about how religious travel is like one of the highest spends of, you know, the median household. And in terms of tourism, I think somewhere around 84% of Indians. I’m not talking about Hindus, I’m just saying 84% of Indians have a shrine in their house, right? So it’s crazy, our connection with God. And I think what’s really special also is that across religions, right, like, today, when I drive past like Jama Masjid, and stuff like that, I’ll find funny roses and Rajnigandha. And when you go to a church, like in India, you do offer flowers, even in churches and stuff. So I think it’s a very big part of our livelihood. And when we first started, you know, we were a part of this thing called TechStars. It was an accelerator programme. And there’s a lot of like, just return from America, or like very young, you know, analysts and stuff like that, that we would interact with. And it would be like, do people do puja, like, I feel like, that’s not really a thing anymore. And we’d be like, okay, you know, like, just next time that you’re going around, like, notice your cab, right? Like, if they have God like flowers in it, notice how many temples you pass just around this one block of this, we work office or whatever, and you know, then we’ll figure it out type of thing. And they would come back a week later, and they’d be like, they’re everywhere, you know, like, these flowers are everywhere. But more than that, like, in India, you really can’t go more than like 10-15 minutes on the road without com- ing across a temple or like some place of worship, right? To the point where houses will have a tiny shrine and that gate and all of that stuff, too. So I think it’s a big part of our livelihood. I think. It’s not the Sunday church kind of model. It’s much more like an everyday engagement with some kind of spirituali- ty and it differs for everyone. So it’s a very exciting space to be building and I think there’s a lot of amazing things being done, product wise, but also content wise community wise, just to help people connect with this very important aspect of their life. Which has been unorganised and has been you don’t like you don’t really have a lot of information on it. You call your mom you call your priest if you really have to, but you don’t really know what the different things mean. Even though you know that the traditions are beautiful. So I think it’s great if we can kind of bring a fresh pair of eyes to it and just make you really look at the same things and be like yeah, like every cab does have flowers and so they’re like little Ganesha or little Hanuman idol. And that is actually really beautiful. Right? So whether you believe or not,


Nancy Mishra 24:00

I think something similar happened during your Shark Tank episode also Vinita asked who does puja now?the market is small. Yeah and Said, I do. I buy flower’s and do puja’s daily.(Speaking in Hind).


Rhea Karuturi 24:11

Yeah, I think yeah, that was great. You know, I think to see both sides of those coins, I think, you know, if someone, there’s a lot of people who get it and a lot of people are like, of course everyone does Puja, but I’m actually very grateful that she brought up that fact, because I’m sure a lot of people watching from home also would have like younger people, right would have been like, oh, do people do puja and she’s speaking her truth in terms of you know, her experience. But it was also really wonderful to have Aman kind of be like No, like I do puja all the time. Because usually we have to give that justification.

Both, both are sides of India, right. Like, it’s amazing that we have people who have kind of broken out

of that. You know, that space and they’re living such different lives from their parents. But it’s also won- derful that we have people who are still connected to that aspect. And like I said, I think for me when I see these five I was in puja it’s a part of a mindful experience that you do every day right for other peo- ple will be running or meditation or yoga or something like that. As long as you have that space in your life you’re taking those like 10 minutes for yourself. That’s all that matters.

Nancy Mishra 25:15

No, I think one more observation I have made. In Hindus we have like lots of steps of doing a puja like we clean the idols (Speaking in Hindi) and then put Roli(Red turmeric powder) and then Akshatha(rice) and then flower’s and then we ligth the Diya (small oil Lamp). It’s like it has lots of steps and this is the most simple Yeah, Puja. Otherwise there’s a lot of step’s, and my mom’s in to puja’s and(Speaking in Hindia) she will prepare a proper thali of Puja. She will have White chandan for Lord Shiva she will have yellow chandan for Lord Vishnu and she will prepare this special drink for Lord Shiv because my mother and my father they both are huge devotees of Shiva. So they make the milk rinse and they give it in the temple(Speakin in Hindi). So, they have like a proper routine with all the steps. But now even if we want to do puja and want to follow those steps, it’s it doesn’t fit with our routine. We don’t have time to find white Chandan nor yellow chandan. And we don’t I think I don’t have that kind of patience. But I still want to do puja everyday. So the most convenient step I find is just order flowers from Zepto. I clean my puja. I’ll offer flowers, and I’ll just lit the diya Yeah. And it’s the most simple, like, it’s simple to do. And it’s something you’ll do it every day.


Rhea Karuturi 26:40

100% Right.


Nancy Mishra 26:41

Like, I think this is another wave, How Indians have haven’t stopped you using flowers?


Rhea Karuturi 26:48

Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, you know, a big part of my job, obviously, is understanding people’s puja prac- tices. And after four and a half years, I can probably say that I don’t even know like point 5% of it, right? Like, there is so much variation. And like you said, you know, it’s done with so much love. Like we al- ways say devotion, but I like to say love because I think it’s a more relatable path. Like your mom is do- ing that, because she really loves those gods, you know, like the same as you take care of you or your brother or your father. That’s how she’s taking care of the gods in her life. And I think when we talk about religion, a lot of times we talk about God fearing aspects, like, if I don’t do this, you know, this will happen and all that stuff. But what Yeshoda and then I really love is building for the God loving, space of saying that the same way you take care of your loved ones, like people who believe in God, people who do puja every day, love their God, you know, even when all the items that you use in puja, it’s like your skincare, right? Like, the same way that you clean yourself. And then you take care of yourself, and then you adorn yourself in the morning, that’s your puja process, you clean your idols, then you know, you take care of them, and then you adorn them. Finally, with flowers, and, you know, all of the other stuff that agarbatti is and everything that you do, it can be as complicated or as simple as you want, you can, you know, do all these different variations, is just an expression of your gratitude and your love for that. And if we can make that journey a little bit easier, a little bit simpler along the way.

Like, why not, right, like, even with these flowers, for example, it’s an age old tradition. But as soon as we started, like, we had so many people saying, you know, when I moved into my apartment, or I moved to a new city, I really had no way of getting these flowers. And if you live in an apartment, it’s a

little bit more hard, you’re like, you don’t get access to it and stuff. So I’m so happy that you guys are letting me do my puja every day, you know, like letting me express what I feel for my God every day. And giving me that time to like, sit with myself and you know, do my puja and everything. So that was really wonderful. And now we’re kind of entering the rest of the puja space without agarbatti is and Kumkum and Ganga water and all of that. It’s massive, massive space. But we hope to bring the same ethos to it right like Ganga water, that you is like an old old tradition. Can we make it fresh again and make you realise like, why is water from the Ganga so important? You know, like this idea? In Hindu mythology that water carries memory, it like it remembers where it’s come from, and that’s why Ganga JAL is Ganga JAL and Rose waters rose water and stuff like that and like you said, it can be a three step puja or a six step nature. But the idea behind Puja like the word itself comes from Pushpa and jab, right so like flowers and some chanting, that is enough to just complete your puja. And yeah, if you can give all five of the elements like you give kumkum for Bhumi and you give agarbatti is for Vayu and that’s the whole idea right? So the Panch Bhootha’s if you offered it, with it you can do in five minutes also then


Nancy Mishra 29:51

No, I think you have put it very beautifully that it’s it’s your relationship with God, how you what kind of relationship you have And it’s already if you skip the steps, yeah, it’s just that if you really want to do it or not, and how much time you want to give it, and if you’re doing it from your heart or not, yeah,


Rhea Karuturi 30:10

I think you know, each step in the puja process, this might be a little bit like too into the technical details for some people, but I really find it beautiful. Because whether you do all the steps or not, the idea is when you give something from the earth, something from water, something from air and stuff, you’re saying that we’re all made of the same elements. And if I can see that in this idol, or this photo frame, then hopefully I can see that in the people around me as well, right? That we’re all made of the same things. And if you can treat your gods so well, hopefully, you can treat the people around you really well, because we’re all made of the same stuff. So I think overall, it’s a beautiful thing, like no matter how many steps you have in the process, if you can remember that core belief, I think that’s really nice.


Nancy Mishra 30:50

I think it’s more about connecting with, with someone supreme.


Rhea Karuturi 30:55 Yeah. Because I mean, in…


Nancy Mishra 30:56

You need to find out some time from your day and when you’re sitting quietly and you are connecting with that power, and you’re talking to yourself while talking to them.


Rhea Karuturi 31:08

Yeah, because I think at the end of the day like this, again, very like Hindu philosophy based but we believe that God is formless Right? Like a lot of other religions. Hinduism also believes that God is formless, we use the form as a way of like baby steps towards understanding the formless. Like we al- ways say, like, you know, when a kid is really young, they don’t understand gravity, they don’t under- stand weight distribution, or (touch and feel). Yeah, so they like tumble themselves, they roll on the floor, they you know, fall, they put their blocks together. Before they have the words for a concept like

gravity or something like that. They’re able to, through their senses, kind of understand it. That’s what the puja process is, right? You’re trying to understand a formless God through form. And that form is the idol that you’re then sanctifying with other like, elements and stuff like that. And if you can do that with- out doing the puja process, why not? Like at the end of the day, you’re just trying to understand like, the we’re all a part of the product thing. And yeah,

Nancy Mishra 32:06

And why flowers? Like, is there anything special about flowers? Like I have mentioned about the con- venience, but is there anything else?


Rhea Karuturi 32:15

Um, why do we have why do we do flowers or why people are flowers? Yes.


Nancy Mishra 32:19

Why do people flowers offer flowers? Yeah.


Rhea Karuturi 32:21

So like I said, Pooja itself comes from the word Pushpa and Jab, right? But at a broader level, when you talk about Hindu puja, you talk about the Panch Bhoothas’. So that’s the five elements that people are made out of the world is made out of and you have Agni,JAL, Vayu Bhumi, which I think people are very familiar with. But the fifth one is kind of the ineffable one. It’s called Akasha. It’s like, the void or the life energy that you know, kind of brings everything together. flowers represent that in your puja. So when you say Bhumi, you’re talking about Kumkum, turmeric, etc Vayu you’re talking about your, you know, Agarbathi’s, etc, gel, whatever water you use, Ganga, etc. Agni is you know, you’re Camphor for whatever you burn, but how do you represent that life element that you’re offering to your God every- day, that’s where the flowers and the fruits come in, right, both of those as the life elements. And I think from a more practical perspective, as well. Anytime you see fresh flowers somewhere, whether it’s in that isn’t in someone’s hair, or in their autos, or in their house or office, what it means is that that person is going there every day to add beauty to that spot. Right? Like, a lot of my friends are like, Haha, I have plastic flowers in my house. And I’m like, Haha, that means you’re not thinking about that space at all. You know, like (Presence). The whole beauty of fresh flowers is that they do die every day. And then you have to kind of keep going back there and saying, even if it’s an ancestors photo, right, you’re say- ing this person is important enough to me that I’m showing up every day is and doing something special in that spot. That’s what Pooja is as well, right? Like, you’re Why are you doing agarbatti every day? It’s because you’re saying every day this person is special enough, the same way that you would make breakfast for someone every day. Or you would say, you know, ask someone about that day.


Nancy Mishra 34:12

It’s like being more grateful and acknowledging things around you?


Rhea Karuturi 34:18

Yeah, it’s your daily check in Right. Like, I think as humans, the most valuable thing that we have to of- fer is time out of our life, right like our attention and our energy. You giving that to your god or your Poo- ja, or you know that that means you care about it or that it matters a lot to you.


Nancy Mishra 34:36

I think you also have an Instagram page where you post pictures wherever you spot, I think a particular kind of flower.


Rhea Karuturi 34:45

We have a page called Hoovu finds where we do a lot of like nature foraging. I think that has been real- ly fun actually, because it’s not so much about Pooja and other we spoke a lot about it but Hoovu find’s is more about being flower lovers. Uh, it’s actually curated by Ronnie Kejriwal who runs the Alpert post. And I used to love her page, it was all this art and poetry. And then we said, what can we do together and we said, you know, Puja flowers are also traditional Indian flowers, you know, they’re just the local flowers that grow in India compared to your bouquet of flowers, which you have to import and stuff like that, which my dad and my mom used to do. And we were like, if we can get people to be as excited about seeing the jasmine in the road, and, you know, like all the local flowers that you see, basically, as they are about receiving a bouquet of flowers, like, it’s so much more joy in your life, right? Because now every time you’re walking down the street, you’re like, Oh, my God, it’s so pretty versus waiting for someone to bring you flowers. That’s how Hoovu find started. And for me, I think it occupies a very simi- lar space. You know, like, if we’re facilitating someone’s puja, that’s wonderful. If we’re facilitating someone like going to carbon park every Sunday, and being like, look at all these beautiful flowers, I found that also that same space in their life of like, spending time with yourself, and hopefully, you know, connecting with that aspect of yourself.

Nancy Mishra 36:03

Now, I think it’s similar with plants. Also, people who love plants, people who love flowers, or nature they are, they’re considered to be more kind, because they are always very conscious of their sur- roundings. And if, if I have lots of plants in here, and I will, I will always be very conscious of like, no- body’s dying. Everyone is looking nice. Feeling Nice. Yeah. So it shows how kind you are and how compassionate you are and how much you care about your surroundings. Your people your things.


Rhea Karuturi 36:35

Yeah. So Gao actually recently went through like a whole brand overhaul. The Ugaoo, they’re a plant company and stuff like that. And I love their caption, which is, you know, usually think like people grow plants. But the thing is, plants grow people. I loved that. Like, I thought it was a brilliant idea. I think thoroughly design did it and they did such a wonderful job. And I 100% agree. Like, my grandma was like, really into gardening. She loved her garden, I think it was like, as important to her as us his grand- kids. And I saw that, you know, like, the compassion and care and she would never throw out a single thing. You know, there was a little bit of omelette left on the plate. She’d be like, my plants are gonna love this. They’re gonna grow so well because of this. So yeah, it just makes me more attentive to the work.


Nancy Mishra 37:19

Yes, to become more kind. And it’s also like we have a very small kitchen garden. So we have got lemongrass and Ajwain everything there in the Garden Bay small balcony setup. Yeah. And if I’m pre- paring Kada for myself, I’ve got cold and I want to prepare Cara. I’ll have some divine leaves from my, from my place. And I’ll have some lemongrass. And when then when you prepare the tea, you are more conscious. You’re not just preparing to you are so grateful. Yeah. You’re not takeing it out of thr fridge(Speaking Hindia). You are thankful to the nature Ajwain comes from here.., The Yeah, we experi- ence who have yeah, see more kind.

Rhea Karuturi 38:03

100% Like we had this, like mirchi plant at home. And we had, I think, an egg plant plant. And it was like, Oh, my God, it’s coming. It’s coming. It’s coming. And then they were like, Oh, this is odd egg plant. And, you know, it was like such a feast in our house. A tiny little thing. You know, my mom and my grandma probably spent so much more time and energy on it than just going and picking it up. But it was so much more special. Like I said, like, because they had invested all that time and energy


Nancy Mishra 38:28

And you also start respecting people in general, like, nobody even think about farmers, putting so much effort in, even after doing this much of gardening, like we are planting one eggplant(Speaking in Hindi) and we are so happy and we know all our effort. What happens when they have to do that kind of work for an year. So we are more grateful as people we acknowledge everyone’s effort and we are more kind to vegetable vendor and…


Rhea Karuturi 38:56

yeah, I’m 100% Like, I remember my grand mom, like I said, loves gardening. So I bought these like lotus like plants for her to plant. And we were waiting and we’re waiting and it took like a year for those lotuses to bloom and when it bloomed, I remember to go to Hyderabad the next day and I was like, No, I’m gonna miss the blooming of my lotuses. And, and then, you know, and then at Hoovu, we get like 1000 lotuses every day, and then you’re like, Oh, my God, like who is growing these, you know, that’s so hard to get out. And, I mean, that’s kind of what started this whole journey for your show than myself. Like, the idea came from her seeing my mom doing her puja, but the business aspect of it of is this something that we can really solve for was when we realised that there’s 40% wastage in this market, which means that the farmer who has like two acres or whatever of land, that he’s literally throwing away almost one acre worth of crop, just like that, seeing our parents and the investment that they have in their farms and how attached they are I think that we were like that’s unacceptable, right? Like, clear- ly something is very, very broken in this supply chain. That kind of what drew us to the whole thing of like,

Nancy Mishra 40:10

I think it’s a great idea. And a huge respect for you guys building (Inaudible) venture. So one more question. There are people who already who always knew when they were kids, or when we are small, we know what kind of profession we want to choose. So there are people who say, I can’t do a job, I can’t, you know, I am my own Boss I can’t be anybody else’s employee (Speakin in Hindi) and kind of odd attitude. And they know that they want to do something of their own. So like, at what point in time, you decided that you wanted to start your own business, because because for me, it’s different. I never had any kind of ambition, this ambition that I would have my own business one day, everything changed for me after my marriage with Siddhartha because he has been this person likes super driven. And he would, he had already decided that once he grows up, he will have his own business. And like he was selling cards when he was small, like, I think five, six year old selling cards and doing all kinds of crazy stuff (hustler from) Yeah, yes. But after my marriage with him, things started changing for me also, I also started figuring out ways to help him, like how can I add value to him? How can I contribute? But doing a business was never on my mind. It happened gradually. So how was it for you?


Rhea Karuturi 41:42

Yeah. So it’s a little funny, like, growing up, like seeing my dad, like, you know, and my mom, both of them being entrepreneurs, there’s always like a thing in us also, where we were like, Oh, we have to

grow up and do something of our own. Like, you know, we have to be entrepreneurs. And my dad’s a Leo, I’m a Leo. So I was like, also a basically the same person. And so of course, I’m also going to be an amazing entrepreneur. And, you know, it was so wonderful. Like they, they used to be on the covers of all these magazines, and used to have all this coverage and stuff like that. And so I was like, you know, I want to be famous, like, I want to come in the newspaper as many times as my dad and more times than him and all that stuff. But I think somewhere along the way, like I kind of changed. And I used to do a lot of reading and writing in school, and I used to be a journalist in school. So then that was the path that I wanted to pursue. Actually, when I started college, I wanted to be a philosophy ma- jor, that quickly changed that, which is probably for the best. And then I was into journalism pretty much till the end of my college career. And I was like, okay, so I will be in the news more than my dad in one way or the other. It was actually my final year of college. So in my third year of college, my dad had fall- en a little bit ill. So Yashoda that graduated early, and she came back and I took a leave of absence.

And I came back to India, that’s when both of us worked in our family business as well. And then I went back to finish my graduation, my last deal. And that’s when Yashoda had this idea. I think having worked in our family business for that brief amount of time, it showed me how interesting business could be and how it could engage every aspect of your brain. And I remember in my final year, you know, I was like, okay, like, now I will look for jobs and stuff. And I went to the Career Centre, and I took that test that they give you. And the results were like the career for you is like you love to learn. So you should be a student. And I was like, what kind of Spam is this? Like, you just want me to be a stu- dent for the rest of my life. But now looking back, I’m like, Yeah, you know, like, that’s what being an entrepreneur is like,


Nancy Mishra 43:43

you’re travelling all the time, all the time. And your job is a book.


Rhea Karuturi 43:46

Yeah, your job is always changing. You always feel like, you know, there’s something else that you have to do that you’re not currently doing. And you’re making yourself redundant all the time. So I think both of those factors really helped. And then when your shoulder called, and she was like, until then I was helping her as a sister, and you know, I was doing the website and photos and stuff like that. And then she called and she said, why don’t you come back? And why don’t you join me? And I was like, okay, cool. Um, so, yeah, I mean, it was as simple and I guess as long of a journey is that? It was like a whole lifetime leading to like that split decision and actually came back….


Nancy Mishra 44:20

like she got you into the business?


Rhea Karuturi 44:22

Yeah. So I was supposed to graduate, June of 2019. I came back to India, March of 2019. So month after she had kind of started already. And yeah, there’s been no looking back.


Nancy Mishra 44:33

So you guys are still running your family business. And you’re also running this separately.


Rhea Karuturi 44:39

And so my parents take care of the family business. We just worked there for Yeshoda I think it was about two years that she worked there. For me. It was like less than a year. And yeah.


Nancy Mishra 44:48

Is there any relationship between these two businesses? No, these are two different businesses.


Rhea Karuturi 44:54

Two different legal entities everything. A lot of people assume we get our flowers from our parents, but they actually do long Stem roses. We only work with short stem Puja flowers, they would never sell us, as long as our flowers are like one rupee per stem, and there’s like 22 rupees. So yeah, there’s no business relationship. But obviously, like, we take a lot of advice from our parents, some solicited some unsolicited. But overall, it’s amazing. Like, I think there’s so many times that we’re like, what do we do? What do we do? What do we do, and we’re at the dining table, and my parents are like, this is what you have to do, because they’re like Panthers in the floriculture field, and we keep forgetting that. So I wouldn’t say there’s no relationship, there is a lot of input from their side, but there is no business relationship.

Nancy Mishra 45:39

I know. It has its own advantages and disadvantages when you your parents are, you know, they’re also running a business and they are already well established. And you have just started, how do you see it?


Rhea Karuturi 45:51

Yeah, 100%? Like, I remember when we started, my mom, would,


Nancy Mishra 45:55

it’s annoying, or it’s like, how was it? It’s both.


Rhea Karuturi 45:59

So on one side, a lot of people when we started, I remember there was this one particular person, and I would meet him at all these startup events. And you’d be like, Oh, you’re building a lifestyle business, right? Like, there’s not a venture business right. And he would like really irritate me so much. Because it was our first year, we didn’t have any numbers to back us up. But I was like, how can you just assume that this is going to be a small business, right? Just because he didn’t understand the concept. But you know, at home, we always had that thing off like, what’s next. And as kids, we always had that thing of like, even selling roses can be a global business, I can really take you to big places. So that way, I think having a parents was like, a great help, because we knew how big of a business flowers can be, what anything can be if you do it well enough, right? And they always kind of push us like, if the whole world is like, oh my god, good job, my parents will be a good job. What’s next? You know, like, that’s their mentality.


Nancy Mishra 46:56

But there was always this clarity. Because first time entrepreneurs always struggle with this thing that what’s the market size? Yeah, I think you had this clarity. Thanks for parents that market size is not small.


Rhea Karuturi 47:10

Yeah, and I think more than understanding the marketing market size, which you know, a little bit was there because of them and floriculture and stuff. Knowing how to operate an uncertainty was, I think,

the biggest gift they gave us because when they started, even the Floriculture, the gifting floriculture side was very new. And you know, like, my dad was one of the first people to export flowers out of Ban- galore, like the first flight to be chartered for roses out of Bangalore was from my dad and stuff, which is really, really cool. And he taught us like, most people will not understand what it takes to build a big business. And they will think that, you know, certain report or something like that can help you do that. But like it, there is a huge market, if you’re willing to build for it, right. And you can create that market for yourself as well. And actually, in India, if you look at it, the puja flower market is three times bigger than the bouquet flower market, which a lot of people don’t realise. So we’re like, I’m not worried about mar- ket size, you know, like, there are huge giants just in the bouquet flower industry. So that was one big thing. Having them at home. But definitely when we started, my mom would be like, for a 10 rupee packet, you guys are waking up at 4am every day? And we’ll be like, yes, Ma, we are waking up for the 10 rupee packet. But it also pushed us right to do more scalable things. Because I think otherwise, we would have gotten so obsessed with each and every single aspect of it, that she was like, You guys earned 30 rupees today. And we were like, yes, we know that. So


Nancy Mishra 48:38

what was their reaction when they Yeshoda shared the initial idea with them that this was my idea. And we want to sell flowers in this way. And the focus is to you know, do the reduce the wastage and in- crease the life of flowers? Like what was their reaction?


Rhea Karuturi 48:55

They were super excited. Right? Like,


Nancy Mishra 48:57 They believed in the idea?


Rhea Karuturi 48:58

Yeah, I mean that’s the thing…

Nancy Mishra 49:00

They were not worried as parents ?


Rhea Karuturi 49:02

No, I mean, I think of my parents, that’s the thing. Like, they’re complicated. They’re both excited for us. And they’re always like, Okay, guys, but like, what’s happening type of thing. So we were very excited. They were very supportive, like, you know, in the beginning, all of our photo shoots, I actually, honestly to this day, also, most of our photo shoots are in my mom’s puja rooms. Like we did some big photo shoots, and we were like, why our model will use my mom, you know, she does puja every day and stuff. So yeah, like that. We’re very, very supportive. My dad goes to any city, he goes to, he goes to the flower market, and he would like live stream is experienced to us. So they’re very supportive. But they backup that support with like, a lot of push to us as well. Right. And we I think it works perfectly, be- cause I think for a lot of women, especially like you, there’s a term for it. It’s like the bigotry of low ex- pectations, where it’s like, people are like, Oh, nice. You’re doing this thing. It’s nice. It’s a small hobby that you’re doing type of thing. Our parents never gave us that comfort. They were like Whatever you do, you have to do it really, really well. And you have to do it to the best of your capability. Not the best in the world. But they’re like the best of your capability. But they believe we’re capable of the world. So then it ends up pushing us quite a bit. Yeah, so I think both of those work, things worked in conjunction,

like every time she was saying, like, oh, you only earned 50 rupees today. It was because she believed we could do so much more than that. And I think that was invaluable.


Nancy Mishra 50:26

Rhea, if you have to share one piece of advice that your parents shared with you that you think can add value to our audience. Also, if you can share that advice?


Rhea Karuturi 50:36

Yeah, they give us so much advice.


Nancy Mishra 50:39

I know it’s a difficult question.


Rhea Karuturi 50:41

um, actually, this is something that my dad didn’t tell me, he told Yeshoda but I was in the car. So I overheard it. And I really loved it. He was talking about some idea, like some random idea that had nothing to do with floriculture. And we were like, okay, like, you have a running business? Why do you keep thinking of these new business ideas all the time. And he’s like, you know, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, your job is to create value, like create social value, not to create profits, or money, or jobs, or any of that stuff to create social value. And that social value can sometimes be job, sometimes it can be profit, sometimes can be a service or a product that you’re offering. And so it’s your job to al- ways be thinking about this, like, how do I create more social value. And I think that has always really stuck with me, as is a great piece of advice for a business, but also as a great way of living your life like a thinking about how you can create social value in different ways. Yeah, I think that’s the best reason


Nancy Mishra 51:40

I think you and Yashoda both took it seriously. And they’re building Hoovu and it’s a big relief for, you know, flower vendors, if they can if the life of flowers is increased?


Rhea Karuturi 51:53

We hope so. Yeah. I mean, I think that because of the way that he kind of framed that we never thought of middlemen or distributors, or anyone as people to cut out of the ecosystem. And it was more about how can we add value to each person in that ecosystem? Because if they’re not all on board, like, no- body knows these flowers, as well as the lady in that flower market, right? Or the farmer who’s selling it, or the middleman who’s been trading it his entire life? So how do you add value to that ecosystem and become a part of it, while hopefully changing the way that it works overall, and disrupting it, I think has been a very interesting question for us. And I think that probably makes you last much longer in that industry as well. Because every person can see the value that you’re adding, when nowhere, where we want to be in terms of reaching all of these people. But I think we’re starting our journey. And that’s fun.


Nancy Mishra 52:46

You know, well, all the best to you and Yeshoda that I am 100% sure that you guys will do great. Thank you so much. And I think Piyush and Aman have invested in Hoovu right?


Rhea Karuturi 52:57

So yeah, we got a deal from both of them through Shark Tank.

Nancy Mishra 53:00

They both are based in Delhi, right?


Rhea Karuturi 53:02 Yeah. Yeah. Very far.


Nancy Mishra 53:03

You will have to travel to Delhi to meet them or Yeah,


Rhea Karuturi 53:06

it’s very funny. Actually. Our investors sauce we see there are fun. They’re also based in Delhi. So like, there’s some reason that, you know, Bangalore supposed to be the startup ecosystem..


Nancy Mishra 53:16

Because you are now building in Delhi.


Rhea Karuturi 53:18

Yeah, that’s right. So we’re starting our new warehouse there and stuff like that. So we’re like, it’s so funny. There’s so much pull from Delhi. Like isn’t Bangalore, the startup hub, like, travelling all the time? So yeah.

Nancy Mishra 53:31

So Siddharth, who is also my husband, and he’s also my co founder. He’s like a complete go getter, like more driven, more passionate, and he wouldn’t if he has got any idea, he wouldn’t wait for any kind of validation, he’ll just start executing, and then he’ll wait for the results. And then he only will decide if he is, this is the right thing to do. Or he should be doing it or not. So he doesn’t seek for validation. I am complete opposite. I am more process oriented. I believe in planning. And sometimes. That’s that, that doesn’t work out for me. And I look for perfection and things like we are complete opposites. So how is your relationship with your sister? Like? What’s your role? And what’s her role? And how do you com- plement each other?


Rhea Karuturi 54:21

Yeah, we’re also complete opposites, I would say Yeshoda as a CEO, so she takes care of operations and finances. I’m CTO, so I take care of the tech and the marketing side of things. And, yeah, I mean, every way possible, like she’s a morning person. I’m a night person, like, every single time we have a new market idea. We both are like, even when we agree we agree in different ways. We’re like, Yeah, we agree we should do this, but your reasons for doing it are different from mine. But it’s been great because then because we have the 25 years or 26 years, whatever experience of seeing the other per- son be proven Right. And also like having these discussions our entire life, I went okay with trying out the other person’s idea. And we always say like, okay, let’s set a certain timeframe. Let’s set the para- meters, like you get a five lakh budget or a 5000 budget or whatever it is to try out your idea your way. Tell me what you need from me. And then we’ll come back and we’ll see the results. And sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes the answer’s no, sometimes it’s okay, this work, but this then, so let’s change it and stuff like that. But I think that’s been really great. I think if both of us agreed on everything all the time, there would be no point of having both of us there, right? Because we have these different per- spectives, it works. And we really complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I think, like, she’s great with people, I love to work by myself, I don’t like to work with people. And just a bunch of

other things like she’s really good at, like responding, like, right on time, takes me like three to five business days to just like, open my WhatsApp and respond to people. So I’m very lucky to be building with her.


Nancy Mishra 56:00

She’s more focused on building, building the team connecting with investors.


Rhea Karuturi 56:04

Yeah, so she, I mean, running the trains on time is such a big part of what we do. Because it’s daily puja, flowers is perishable business, I think it’d be impossible to do that without her. Like, she actually has the personality for that industry. I do not have the personality for it. But it works out well. Because then we can like, try new things like I can do that with my time. And I have so much fun. And I feel so bad sometimes, because I’m like, my job is so far. But it’s free like working. Sometimes I literally feel like I’m not working because then I’m like, I’m like making holy colours. And then, you know, I’m like smelling Agarbatlhi’s. And I’m like, Oh, this smells beautiful. And she’s like in meetings the whole day. But I think it complements each other at the end of the day, like we’re able to do new things, and then still have a core business run really well. And I think zooming in and zooming out as individual founders is important. But then as a team, we kind of help each other do that as well, because one person is zoomed out one person is zoomed in on different aspects of the business. And I think just like a deep level of trust, like I think even on the days where we don’t get along with each other, when things are going bad, and all of that stuff, knowing that the other person wants what’s best for the company and for you. I mean, it’s it’s hard to, I mean, I think that’s why so many spouses and siblings start up together, right? And

Nancy Mishra 57:25

No, I think this is the first episode I am hosting. And before this, I would help Siddharth. And now that we have Aravind and Ram. So it’s not that kind of work. But earlier, I would bring coffee, tea or water when we are recording and I would help Aravind with the setup. And today I was feeling a bit unem- ployed or like I’m not doing anything, I’m not adding value. I’m just sitting there. And I’ve also got cold. So I was thinking like so save my energy. I was trying to move things that I would control myself. No, no. Today, you don’t have to do that. Save your energy because you will be speaking for the next one hour so and not well.


Rhea Karuturi 58:02

So yeah, I think a big part of the founder journey is making yourself redundant all the time.


Nancy Mishra 58:07

You don’t feel relevant. I don’t Yeah, by the end of the day, I’m so exhausted. I have no fixed timings. I would wake up and Kabir is already there. Like Kabir is more alive more awake. His all senses are working (Speaking in Hindi). My day starts with Kabir. And around at I sent him to school. And then after that I got one hour to get ready, because it’s a home office and I want to be ready before these guys come. So I get ready. And then I work till five, six and up and Kabir can’t tolerate much more time than that (Speaking in Hindi), he’ll start making all kinds of noises. And by the by 9-10 -11. I am so exhaust- ed. But I have to count my work like yeah, what did I do today? Did I add value did I contribute today?

So you have that kind of questions


Rhea Karuturi 58:56

100% that impostor syndrome is always there and feeling that I mean, it’s always nice when you make yourself redundant and all of that. But sometimes it’s also such a jarring feeling. Because, you know, like up till the last festival. You know, our warehouse was in the basement of our home. So it was like the night shift. It was us who were in the night shift, and I would be running the mill. So because I’m CTO I also help in I develop the machinery that we use for the flower packing and stuff. And when the machines first came, nobody wanted to use it because nobody understood how they worked. Because there is no machine operators for this particular machine because this machine has never existed be- fore, right? So I would go and run the machines. And this festival season I was in the warehouse and I was telling one of the supervisors, you know, like I was like, Okay, you go Take your tea break, I’ll run the machine. And she was like, No, ma’am. It’s very difficult. You won’t be able to do it. She’s new. So she was like, it’s very difficult, ma’am. You won’t be able to do it. I’ll do it. It’s okay. It’s fine. And I was like, I’m switching. I was like I used to run this machine for like an eight hours, it’s okay like go take a break and come. But then it also is wonderful, right? Like your organisation has grown so much beyond you like, It’s good that you’re not the person manning the wheel at every single station. And yeah, there was some barcodes or something that had to be changed. I was sitting down to do it. And they were like, ma’am, ma’am, don’t touch the file, they will get spoiled on and I was like, I made these. I started this. But I was it’s a wonderful style.


Nancy Mishra 1:00:25

Being an entrepreneur, you have to do so many things. And then teams comes up. So you also want to stay relevant. So you have to keep finding new things to work on. And what are the loopholes?


Rhea Karuturi 1:00:37

Yeah, no 100%. And I think that has been a big part of Yashoda and my journey this year, because fi- nally, we feel like the organisation is at a place where, you know, OPs are able to run by themselves, we’ve been able to like, really set SOPs for everything. So now it’s like, what next? You know, what else can we explore like, the rest of the puja basket, new cities, new countries, maybe like new services that we can offer like content and all of that stuff. But you know, at the same time, like, you grow so attached to everything that you’ve done, like, every time I go to the warehouse, I’m like, the table should be like, this a crate should be like this. And they’re like, leave us alone. We do this everyday and I was like, but you know, designing these tables, for example, was a big thing. You know, when we did it, we were like, Oh, we’re gonna buy yellow tables, they’re gonna have places for crates, everything was done with so much love. But then you have to kind of hand it off to your team and you know that they’re going to take good care of it so


Nancy Mishra 1:01:32

I think something similar happened yesterday only so Ram came to me and so just one year back to this day, I told Siddharth, that you have got a fund for yourself and you’re so much focused on fund. What’s my job? I’m not even on camera recording the podcast and I don’t I am constantly questioning myself what’s my role? How am I contributing? Am I really adding value or anyone can do this job it’s not nothing major is happening from my side. And so, Now I will try for One more year, If the numbers don’t improve, if my team doesn’t get along, or if the podcast doesn’t grow I’ll leave this job up because you can better find somebody else for this! (Speaking in HINDI). I’ll better take up a job so I feel more acknowledged and respected and house also because I’m drawing salary also I am helping everyone with money also. So I’m totally dependent on you and I get sponsor money but I spend all all of that money building studio or buying new things. So I’ll just give one more year so I was more focused in the last one year I we build the studio bought these fancy Equipment’s and hired Aravind, hired built our

team and then yesterday Ram came to my room and he was like and I was already very much focused on the process that if any one of them screw’s up and we are in a panic state, what to do now(Speaking in Hindi), we should have a proper process around everything we do. So Ram came to me yesterday and he was like Nancy now we can easily manage the podcast, there’s not much of thing left, for you to do today, and short wort is all ready, Short’s ready, Cover photo’s ready don’t worry I am staying in here late and also Naval is also staying so, we’ll do that together, you’re sick today so, you can take rest. We will do it. Um, so yeah, I was in shock. Yeah, it was a happy shock. Because I was like, I now, I need to find out different ways to stay relevant in this company.


Rhea Karuturi 1:03:31

Ya know, 100% I know. But every festival for example, you know, you have to have night shifts during festival times. And I would always be like, Okay, I’ll do the night shift. You guys do the morning shift. I remember this festival season. I was like, okay, night shift, I’ll do that my warehouse manager was like, No, you go home, I’ll do it. The next day. The next day. I was like, Okay, today I’ll do night shift. And they were like no logistics manager, we’ll do it. Like someone let me do it like I love this company make I want to be on here, like, go home. And so then you have to find other things to do. So then I was like, okay, you know, I’ll send analysis and I’ll critique whatever you guys are doing right now. But yeah, I

Nancy Mishra 1:04:09

And Rhea it’s been more than four and a half years for you guys. building Hoovu. And you guys started from Bangalore, right? Yes, that had Bangalore has all kinds of charm. But we have so much difficulty also operating from the city traffic media for me, because our guests travel to our studio. And yeah, we have one or the other example number. So because we run this podcast and we have an audience and we want to share this message to anyone who is concerned who can you know, bring a change who has the power to know what’s actually bothering business owners what’s what’s affecting their busi- ness. So if you can share one or two challenges you have running your business in Bangalore, what what? What would be that challenge?


Rhea Karuturi 1:05:03

That’s a great question. I’m a first time founder and I’ve only ever worked out of Bangalore. As we travel to other cities. We have offices in Hyderabad and Mumbai as well. So I don’t know if I’m the best person to answer this question. I honestly love working in Bangalore, because I grew up here. I live in North Bangalore. So definitely, I’ll see Hebbal flyover is the biggest burden in my life dictates my day, essen- tially. But yeah, traffic I think everyone will complain about.


Nancy Mishra 1:05:35 I think traffic.


Rhea Karuturi 1:05:36

Yeah, yeah. Hebbal flyovers. The one point of traffic that, I mean, apart from that, I’m actually okay. Like, I think that’s the one bottleneck that’s really hard to get out of, but if you can get out of it, it’s okay. Yeah, I feel like a teacher’s pet. But I can’t think of anything not to say but but Bangalore, honestly love it. Like, I feel like the community so great. And like, you know, the


Nancy Mishra 1:05:57

For business, It’s a great city. But yeah, the population is increasing them. A lot of migration is happen- ing, and we don’t have proper infrastructure. Yeah. I mean, everything is adding up to


Rhea Karuturi 1:06:12

Yeah, probably traffic is the biggest thing. But I grew up in Bangalore. So like, anytime I go to a new city, I’m like, I just want to go back. Yeah, like I remember when I joined college, the biggest tip Yashoda gave me she was like, check the weather app every day. And I was like, What a weird thing to say. But then I realised like growing up in Bangalore, you never check the weather because you’re like, it’s al- ways perfect. And then in California, which is also known for its perfect weather, I would like be freezing or I’d be sweating because like I didn’t dress for the day. So honestly, I’m really spoiled. Like, i can’t.


Nancy Mishra 1:06:39

It’s also good kind of weather for your business. Or yeah, it will be challenging for you to do this busi- ness in Delhi. Like.


Rhea Karuturi 1:06:48

Yeah, definitely. Bangalore is a great place to start because it’s kind of a floriculture hub in that way. A lot of mean flowers, Roses and Sevanthi are grown here. And yeah, definitely the temple. So we’ve ac- tually supplied to Delhi quite a bit before during the festival especially, that’s definitely a challenge like, yeah, the extreme heat extreme cold like that fluctuation also can actually affect flowers a lot.


Nancy Mishra 1:07:13

So Bangalore is the largest producer of roses?


Rhea Karuturi 1:07:16

I think, bouquet roses, Bangalore and Pune together, huge producers in India. Some of it has actually grown in the north also, for our puja, flowers, roses and Sevanthi. A big part of it does actually come from Karnataka I won’t say Bangalore specifically. But Lotus comes from Kerala and all of that stuff. So it’s very distributed, like jasmine and everything they come from different parts of the country Marigold, again, is very much in the north. So we’ve kind of always worked with the pan India supply chain, but being in Bangalore made it definitely much easier. Because the cord varieties are kind of grown here. And the temperature is easier and all of that.


Nancy Mishra 1:07:53

So at least flowers, I think five or seven types of flowers, who deals with foot puja, flowers, mainly, so they are all grown in Karnataka.


Rhea Karuturi 1:08:03

So we actually do around like 12 different varieties of flowers and greens together like your betal leaves, Bill Patra, all of that stuff. I would say like the three largest are seventhi, roses, and Marigold, those are grown in Bangalore, near Bangalore the rest of the varieties do come from all over. But yeah, I mean that we like working with that supply chain all over India was never a huge challenge for us. Be- cause of our background. I think, like that floriculture and agriculture side, we actually came in being very comfortable with having worked with, you know, other international supply chains and stuff like that. It was the rest of the how do we distribute it? You know, like you said, you order from Zepto, right, like, how do we get ourselves on? Zepto? And how do we get your home in 10 minutes when you need

it? I think that was more of the challenging bit. Yeah. But dealing with flower, where it is like, that’s one thing our parents unconsciously trained us for our whole lives. Yeah.

Rhea Karuturi 1:09:03

I’m only two years younger than you.


Nancy Mishra 1:09:05 So I’m not old.


Rhea Karuturi 1:09:08 Yeah, that’s true. Yeah.


Nancy Mishra 1:09:11

So but it’s been four and a half years building this business. And you have been, you have lived outside India, a lot of experiences you have had. What’s the lowest mom? What was the lowest moment for you in life? Like that really taught you something solid about life.


Rhea Karuturi 1:09:30

In life? That’s a great question. Yeah. Um, I mean, I think overall, probably the lowest moment would be last year, our grandma actually passed away. And like, she actually my granddad passed away. The year i was born 96. So she’s lived with us our whole life. And, you know, when I was a kid, I would tell everyone I was like, I have two moms. They would be like, what? And then my mom would be like it Her grandmother so, i was s very close to her. So I think she struggled with cancer for a bit. And then we lost her, which was definitely difficult. And so, like she passed away in June, and September is when the Shark Tank shooting happened, right? So that was when we were going through the whole applica- tion process. And this is something that I don’t tell everyone. But, you know, there was a part of the process where we were like, we’re going to drop out, we’re not going to do Shark Tank, because they were calling us every day for the audition videos and stuff. And I was like, I can’t do it right now, like this week is not possible for me to do. Then finally, I tell them, I was like, I had a death in my family. I’m not shooting, you know, a trailer or anything right now. But they were very, very understanding. And they were like, okay, like you don’t, we’ll give you a little bit of time, they extended the timeline for us and stuff like that. So that was definitely hard. But I would say it was amazing to have those six months with her when we kind of knew that she was kind of struggling with it. Because we made the most of it. Like we literally every single day, like my uncle, my aunt, like our entire family was together with her all the time. And then also coming out of it having work as a release wasn’t a way a really good thing. Like, our life was so full at that point of time with Hoovu and Shark Tank, and this and that. And like you said, you know, we get to be a part of so many startup events and stuff like that, that I think we just like fell into work. And then now one year later, we’re like, how are we doing that, like, two weeks after this huge thing happened in our house and stuff like that. So I think that was definitely like the lowest point, but also something that brought our family together a lot.

Nancy Mishra 1:11:36

And I’m really sorry to hear about that.

Rhea Karuturi 1:11:39 Thank you.


Nancy Mishra 1:11:39

And as the business grows, our network grows like expand’s, but friendships and close network, it gets a little less (Speaking in Hindi). Like we have fewer friends when we are building a business because our priorities are different. And we can’t be available to everyone all the time. We have to, you know, we have to learn how to say no, most of the time as okay ,then let’s meet tomorrow? No, tomorrow would be hard for me and slowly, okay, you start going away from your people. And then you have to, you know, make a new circle with same people only but who respect your work and who you can who can fit into the new life you are living. So how’s that thing for you? Like? How’s your relationship with your friends? And what has changed? What’s the same?


Rhea Karuturi 1:12:38

Yeah, I would say with my college friends, like, I think we were all workaholics, even in college. So that didn’t change. It’s definitely hard being far away from them. But overall, I mean, I think we’ve kept in touch. It was definitely weird. Moving back to Bangalore, where I grew up and kind of reconnecting with a lot of my school friends and people that I’ve known for a really long time, especially because when I first came back, which was in my third year of college, obviously, all my friends were also like, just in college, or just finishing up and stuff like that. And I was working in a family business. And obviously, the startup journey is very hard. But my dad is an incredible boss, also a very hardworking boss. And like, you know, Sunday, like Saturday, it doesn’t matter to he’s is always working, and therefore we are always working, because you’re living with your boss, he’s always working. And I remember like, my friends, you know, would meet like on a Wednesday or Thursday or something. And I was like, how are you guys having fun on a weekday? Like, this does not make sense. But it makes sense, because they were 22 at the time, right? That was definitely a difficult thing to be like.


Nancy Mishra 1:13:42 Do you miss that life?


Rhea Karuturi 1:13:44

I mean, I never had that life because I can’t I my college was so intense. Like we were working all the time.


Nancy Mishra 1:13:50

And you were, I think you had already. By the time you finished your college who had already joined the family business, because..


Rhea Karuturi 1:13:56

yeah, so in my third year, I didn’t really have a summer I was like working with my parents and stuff like that. And then I would always everyone would be like, let’s go out. And I’d be like, I’m in Ethiopia, actu- ally. So then I could not do that. And then when I came back from college in 2019, like during my grad- uation time, as well, it was Hoovu right and who was crazy in the first year, obviously, because we were doing our own deliveries. And we did about 1500 deliveries every day, within the four to 5am slots. So like many phone calls, like he’s left it on the second floor, I’m on the third floor or like, Oh, he’s left at my neighbour’s house, that person has all you were allowed.

Nancy Mishra 1:14:31

So you we’re also handling the customer service.


Rhea Karuturi 1:14:33

We were doing the and I mean, we had customer service, but like as founders, you are, you know very much on the front-lines in the first year. So it’s definitely like weird I would definitely be like, I also want to go like Yeah chill. But you know, your friends, like you realise that supporting you is not the friends who put up a post when you do really well or who are like, Oh my god, I’m so excited for you. It’s the people who understand like why you’re showing up I’d like 2 hour’s late, why you look dead while you’re in your office Kurtha and when everyone else is like, you know, and one of my friends is like, Oh, you look like an auntie and I was like, I am an auntie. There’s nothing I can do about it.


Nancy Mishra 1:15:13

Auntie Who am I know when you know like


Rhea Karuturi 1:15:15

At that point in time, you’re dressing like an auntie, you’re behaving like an Aunty. And I’m like, I am an aunty like, this is who I am now deal with it. But they did deal with it. Right. And I think those are the friendships that last. And something that’s been really great is having friends who are slightly older also, like a lot of my friends, I would say are like in their 30s and stuff like that, that always helped. Because


Nancy Mishra 1:15:35

you they come from this business side of things, or.


Rhea Karuturi 1:15:39

Yeah, just like I, I mean, maybe because of Yashoda being slightly older, I ran into them, but also like, from like family, friends, or like the business like the startup ecosystem,


Nancy Mishra 1:15:49

more with the slightly older people.


Rhea Karuturi 1:15:53

I think, different people bring out different sides of you. So I’m definitely still really close to the people that I grew up with. And they bring out a very different side of me, which I’m grateful for, like, on the weekends, I don’t want to be talking about like the stock market and all of that stuff, although my friends have started talking about that. And I’m like, Guys, no, let’s not do that. But it’s also nice to be friends with people who are slightly older, who are building their own businesses who are dealing with all of those aspects of life. Because then I don’t feel crazy. And you know, they’re like, Oh, my intern, quit and blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, same, you know, it’s great to have those conversations. So yeah, I think everyone just brings out a different side of you. And yeah,


Nancy Mishra 1:16:33

There was a point in time in my life when I stopped connecting with my batchmates or classmates. I was feeling I was already feeling so old, I would be so much more comfortable with the Siddharth’s friends. Yeah. So all all have smartphones are now my friends. And I was only 23-23 and 22-23. And they were becoming becoming parents because Siddharth’s 7-8 year older. But I, like with time be- cause of our business. We were running the business together. And we were having those kinds of

conversations when we were together. So I started connecting with more with the Siddharth’s friend, and I would I wouldn’t connect with my set of people ki. I don’t want to talk about breakups. I don’t want to talk about boyfriends. Maybe I’m more interested in. Maybe you’re like what’s happening in family side?


Rhea Karuturi 1:17:29

Yeah, no, no, I think that definitely happens. And actually, there was a point where like, even our par- ents, friends, like we would spend so much time talking to them, because we’d be like, Auntie, what puja’s do you use? And what do you do and all that stuff. And obviously, my dad’s friends as well about business. And I remember there was one point when one of my dad’s best friends, his name is Sanin Uncle. And our whole life, he would come home and hang out with us and all of that stuff. But sometime he came home and my dad was like, Oh, nice. You’re here, like what’s up? And he’s like, I came to meet Rhea like, I’m gonna talk to a really like what chatting because he does a lot of tech stuff as well. So that was nice. You know, I think it’s always nice to have that. But like I said, I think different friends bring out different sides of you. And I think a big learning has been that having friends who have been older has been great for the professional side and lifestyle and all of that stuff. But having my friends who are a little bit younger also forces me to be like, Okay, I should act my age, you know, like, I shouldn’t be like sleepy at 10pm. Sometimes, like not always, but like, sometimes it’s okay to do that and be silly, or whatever it is also. So, yeah, I think I value both. And I think it’s nice to have people who’ve known you for a really long time. And who like to see that change in you, right? Like, my friends, like, are the biggest supporters in the way that it’s a very small way, right? Like, well, you know, when everyone’s like, in a 2am in the morning, whatever they will be like, Hoovu like they’ll be like a and all of that stuff. And I remember I was visiting a few of my friends in Delhi. And I had all of these air freshen- ers in my bag, because I was like giving them to auto divers because we were launching in the city. I was Mumbai sorry, we were launching in Mumbai, and I was doing this. And I called


Nancy Mishra 1:19:10 What D2C founders do. Yeah


Rhea Karuturi 1:19:12

. Yeah,


Nancy Mishra 1:19:13 distributing them.


Rhea Karuturi 1:19:14

any gap. I’m like, you want an air freshener. And, and it’s a Lakshmi air freshener so they can never throw it out. Because it’s a God’s image. Like they will always keep it up. And I was little bit ashamed of doing it in front of my friend. My one of my friends opened my bank. He’s like, What is all this? And then I was like, Yeah, that’s what I’m doing. And the whole night. He was like, Brother do you need Air fresh- ner( Speak’s in Hindi) and I was like so wonderful, you know, like, yeah, I would never do without that. So I think even though we’re in different phases of our lives, maybe it’s been really valuable to have them as well. And sometimes I think it’s good to be like, if someone is like, I had a breakup, I had this and all that stuff. It’s sometimes good to be like, these are problems too. You know, like maybe this will distract me from the other stuff that’s going on. So


Nancy Mishra 1:19:57

That’s really funny. I’ll always remember This Yeah.


Rhea Karuturi 1:20:01

I also, we also give, this probably won’t be aired, but we also give out match boxes as goodies. And as soon as my friends found out, they were like, Dude, give me you know how many people use match around me and I was like okay like different TG but make sense. Yeah, they also have Lakshmi No, no, they don’t have God pictures luckily since we know people throw them but yeah, I’m sure like any pub in Bangalore you go at least one smoker will have Hoovu match boxes with them. So yeah, I don’t know if it’s doing any good marketing wise. Yeah.

Nancy Mishra 1:20:31

Nice. And one more different question I have for you. And this is the last question. We know, as women founders that a lot of a, lot has changed. A lot of things, we have progress society has progressed and things are better now easier now. But how do you see it like, being a woman in the business? How’s your experience? Anything you think? Like, we should change or we should evolve or any kind of be- haviour you have noticed?


Rhea Karuturi 1:21:13

Yeah, actually, honestly, me and Yashoda get this question fairly often. And we always do it..


Nancy Mishra 1:21:18

I know, I know. It’s a very common question. And I was also thinking till this point in time that we shouldn’t be asking this question,


Rhea Karuturi 1:21:19 Because it’s a valid one.


Nancy Mishra 1:21:21

Yeah. Because a lot of people watch this podcast, and I feel small things make a big difference, right? So there is this influencer, and he posted one story on Instagram. The baby was, a baby was crying in the background, and he was making noises. And that was something that I didn’t like, because I feel that people should have more empathy. If he’s not comfortable, that mother may feel more awkward and like she’s causing some kind of trouble. So yeah, these small behaviour changes makes a lot of difference. So if our audience, listen, women founders, are these mothers answering their struggles? Yeah. And if they can change something, they can make a small difference in their behaviour. It can, you know,


Rhea Karuturi 1:22:19

100%, I think it’s a very valid question. And you’re absolutely right, right. Like, even what you said about like babies and stuff, I remember seeing a post recently, or like, it was something and it was like, if you’re in your late 20s, unless there is a close family member who has a young child, you’re never in- teracting with young people, right? And same can be said maybe for people who are really old, you know, if your parents are not in that age group, and we talk a lot about diversity, and of course, it’s very important. But it’s not just like, ethnic or racial, racial diversity, right? It’s also age wise. Like, do you have empathy for people across age groups and stuff like that? I definitely understand when people are like, I mean, me too. I would prefer to not have a baby crying next to me on a flight. Does that mean that I can ask for baby free places in public life? Like, maybe to a point but maybe not beyond that? Be-

cause at the end of the day, we all share this society, right. Like you said, the mother and the child also have a place to play. So I definitely agree with that. The reason I said it’s a great, it’s an interesting question for us is that we feel very lucky because I think a lot of the way that we grew up and the envi- ronment in which we grew up was so different from other female founders. Recently, we were on a panel at IBM, and Diksha Pandey, who’s the founder of samosa party was also on it. And you know, she was talking about, you know, growing up in a small town and like, becoming a founder and being kind of like, you know, one of the first people like from her space to do that, or even be the first people and first woman in hospitality, you know, in the Oberoi group, like, and how few of them they are. And that’s amazing, right? Like, I love hearing stories like that. And it’s so different from our story, because, like I said, our parents were always like, of course, you’re gonna be entrepreneurs, like, what else are you gonna do? Even when I wanted to be a journalist? They were like, Yeah, I should be a journalist and an entrepreneur, but she, you know, that we were very lucky and not just our parents, right? Like, even the schools that we went to, we were always given. I remember, I was never in class because I was always some club or some competition or something. Like we were given so many leadership positions as kids, we were given so much importance in the classroom. And, you know, I remember my male friends would be like, can you please go argue for marks from my paper, if she thinks that your paper should give more marks, you know, like, we never felt that we were lesser than anybody else and with three girls right by three sisters, and so many times and parties, and you will never expect it. Like it’ll be from the highest, most sophisticated person, they’d be like three daughters, like, what, like they’re so shocked, you know? And our parents would be like, Yeah, three daughters and I could see that anger in their eye’s cause they were like, why not? You know, like, Why can’t my daughters do something? Or like, why wouldn’t they run the family business? Why wouldn’t they kind of take over? So we’re very lucky in that sense. And even coming back and starting, we had so much support, like from our family, from our extended family, our friends, like I said, like, a lot of my friends, like my all of my male friends, as well was so excited when we started up. And they asked really tough questions, right, like, I think that always shows a lot of support when they’re like, how does a 10 rupee packet make sense? Or like, how are you guys doing this and stuff like that, that made me realise that they actually take what I do seriously. And it’s not just a small thing. So all of those ways, we’ve been very lucky, I think structurally, a lot has changed, I think we get to be a part of a lot of cool conversations as women founders, which has been absolutely amazing. We’ve been in rooms at tables with people that we would have never dreamt of meeting so early on in our careers, because we’re women founders, and because they are making an effort to bring that in lots of amazing programmes and stuff like that. There is, of course, a few structural things. Like I said, you know, when I suddenly went to a flower market in Delhi, and I was like, I’m the only one you’re like, what’s going on? When we were developing our machines, I would al- ways take my dad or like my driver inside with me, just so they would like start talking to us. And then I would step in, you know, and that’s something my mom taught us because she was working, like, from the 90s onwards, and she was always like, you know, that first five minutes, is you somehow have to get through the door, you know, like, you have to push it open. And then after that, it’s up to you. Like, if you actually have content, if you have intelligence, you have this, like, if that person, like, is smart enough, and they weren’t doing businesses, they’ll pick it up, right, regardless of your gender, because everyone loves money, they want to make money at the end of the day. So that I think has been impor- tant. One weird thing that, this actually I mentioned a lot, because I think it’s really weird, and I think it should change is that to this day, women can’t get vehicle loans, which is fairly important for compa- nies, right? Capital Loans, essentially, unless, I mean, there’s an informal rule, but you need to have like your father, your husband, like as a guarantee around the loan, which I think is ridiculous. So I think like a few structural things like that should still change, especially from a capital perspective, the way that’s dispersed. But apart from that, I think the ecosystem today is ready for more women entrepre-

neurs to come in. And there’s so many amazing women who’ve already kind of paved the way for us, you know, like Phalguni Nayer, and Vinita Singh and Namita, like all of them, like is amazing power- houses. And, you know, they hold themselves and other women founders to such high standards, and were so lucky to be in that company.


Nancy Mishra 1:27:48

I was also particularly very excited for this conversation. Because all my friends mostly are males, all my colleagues are males. So I’m looking to expand my circle and have more women in my circle. And I that is one of the reasons why I really respect and the privilege I have that I’m being part of that What- sapp group. And I’m, I haven’t met many of them. But I’m connected with this very close knit circle. And I can ask for help. I don’t have to hesitate. We have another group and I have to think twice before ask- ing the question and I’m much more comfortable in this group. And every day I have some kind of ques- tion there if you know this person, that person, this person know. Some time it feel’s like is it too much that i am asking, NO then i feel it’s okay! it’s okay!


Rhea Karuturi 1:28:37

Honestly, I love this group because I’m a part of so many founder group chats like I joined them like it’s nobody’s business. Yeah. But a lot of them become just places to ask, ask, ask, you know, a lot of them are like, can I get this? Can I get that and nobody’s responding to each other. Also, you know that peo- ple are only opening that chat when they want to ask something. What I love about this group, is that when someone posts something, there’s so many meaningful interactions with it. Not just requests for like business stuff, but even when someone is like, Hey, did you guys see this article? And people like really discuss it? It feels like a community doesn’t feel like one person is broadcasting to everyone it feels like everyone in that community and.


Nancy Mishra 1:29:17

Everyone puts effort to help like yesterday only I asked if anyone knows Chumbak founder Shubhra because I want to bring her on the podcast. I love the brand. I just loved the brand. There is not a single time when I’m on streets. There is one to Chumbak store I see and I don’t get into I won’t buy I just have to get inside the store. I just check out everything. It’s like soul satisfying experience for me. So I I always wanted to have her on the podcast, but I was not in touch. And then Divya, Byjus founder replied to me and she like then she said she will connect me with Shubhra and then she messaged me on DM and then she was like, What is it for? (Speak’s in Hindi). I just shared the reference. And then she shared the number and said, You directly talk to her(Speak’s in Hindi). And that was so like, yeah, something I could like I was feeling bad because I felt that they would say, that I am alway’s asking for favour’s in the group and it’s going out of Hand.(Speak’s in Hindi).


Rhea Karuturi 1:30:11

Yeah, and you’re providing value, right? Like you’re helping people share their story. So I think they recognise that and it’s wonderful that you’re in the middle of being so busy, she’s still able to do that. And yeah, I was just gonna say like, I’m sorry, I missed that message. But I think her kids went to school with my little sister. So my mom also knows also, but you’re already connected. So that’s, yeah, I’m just waiting for your message. So if she doesn’t apply, yeah, yeah, we’ll catch red. That’s cool. Pick up points, then. Yeah.


Nancy Mishra 01:30:40

You have to be shameless. And you have to be like, I’m like messaging everyone every day. Like, it takes like 20-30% of my time. I’m just cold reaching to people and I’m just figuring out a way stalking everyone on LinkedIn oh, so she’s her connection I should ask her on whatsapp if your connected or not(Speaaking in Hindi) . Okay.

Nice. It was very nice talking to you Rhea


Nancy Mishra 01:31:05

Thank you so much for joining us.


Rhea Karuturi 01:31:09

Nice to been here. Thank you so much.

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