Ankit Agarwal & Karan Rastogi: Saving the Ganga by recycling floral waste

HelpUsGreen co-founders are straddling religiosity and business

Everything about entrepreneurship, the good, bad and the ugly of it, fascinates me. I take a keen interest on startups and venture capital firms and have written extensively on fundraises, M&As and business strategies. I can safely say changing tracks from engineering to journalism has been one of my best decisions. When not working, I indulge in almost every Indian's poison, cricket, playing or watching. I am a foodie and video game buff.

g_103273_helpusgreen_280x210.jpgWith HelpUsGreen, Ankit Agarwal (left) and Karan Rastogi are also helping women find jobs
Image: Amit Verma


Ankit Agarwal | 28
Karan Rastogi | 29
Co-founders, HelpUsGreen

Oh God! The boy has quit his job to clean up temples, was his parents’ reaction when Ankit Agarwal told them he was giving up his job at cyber security firm Symantec to start up. He had apprised them of his idea to process waste flowers from temples to produce soaps, incense sticks, organic fertilisers and styrofoam.

Born and raised in Kanpur, Agarwal had seen the river Ganga turn into a heap of temple waste—mostly rotting flowers. A solution to process the refuse held business opportunities, besides helping to save the river, he felt. Together with friend Karan Rastogi, Agarwal launched HelpUsGreen with an initial investment of ₹72,000 in May 2015 in Kanpur.

Today, HelpUsGreen has an FY18 revenue run rate of ₹2 crore. Armed with ₹4.2 crore in seed funding from Tata Trusts’ Social Alpha, Greenfield Ventures and Echoing Green, Agarwal and Rastogi are planning to launch two more plants in Varanasi and Mathura by June. Combined with the Kanpur plant, the new facilities will take their company’s processing capacity to 38 tonnes of flowers a day.

Click here to view the full Forbes India 30 Under 30 list

In the process, the duo is also helping women in these cities find jobs. For instance, HelpUsGreen employs about 80 women at its Kanpur facility and provides them with benefits such as provident funds, health insurance and transport to and from work.

“The best part about the business is that they have healthy revenues. We have to remember that this is a very touchy area. Religious places always have sentiments attached to them,” says Nagaraja Prakasam, angel investor and partner at Acumen Fund.

Currently, the company is in the middle of a rebranding exercise and the founders have decided to halve the prices of their products to gain traction in the market.

Click here to view the full Forbes India 30 Under 30 list

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(This story appears in the 16 February, 2018 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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