Studies show that people with at least one plant in their house or workplace rated themselves as happier at work and more satisfied with their life than those without any plants.
Hence, having green foliage is not just a decoration but in fact, it can impact a person’s well being. As the potted plant is getting popular, it’s becoming the go-to gifting option for many occasions.
This is a success story of a seven-year-old Singapore-based startup, The Green Capsule, that offers a range of ornamental terrariums, indoor foliage plants, modular smart gardens, mini gardens, and planters of all kinds. Additionally, the company organizes workshops to guide plant lovers to DIY ornamental terrariums.
With a presence in Funan Mall and Great World City where they sell retail products, the startup also undertakes bulk orders for corporates and individuals.
How The Green Capsule founder — Ricky and his wife spotted the opportunity and steered a successful business makes an interesting conversation.
Tell us more about the story of The Green Capsule.
With both of us being plant lovers (I was a Landscape Architect and my wife was a horticulturist), we wanted to spread our love of plants to a greater audience. Thus we combine art, craft and plants to create terrariums for people that wish to give a living gift to others.
Please share with us the most memorable challenge when you first started, and how did you overcome it?
When we first started, we didn’t have a vehicle. We realized every little savings allowed us to go a longer road. Terrarium materials are bulky and heavy, to pack them, we definitely need a trolley and a vehicle to move all the materials.
Our 1st terrarium workshop collaboration with a cafe required us to bring all the materials to the location. To save on the transport cost, we didn’t take a taxi. Instead, we packed everything into cups and stacked them up in a luggage, and took a train.
It was pretty memorable as we had to unpack them batch by batch for the participants and packed them back after the workshop.
Who is your primary audience, and how do you reach them?
They are generally young working adults. We started by having pop up to gather their general interest in our monthly curated EDMs. Eventually, our social media started to gain traction and soon we found ourselves reaching them through social media.
What motivated you to create an online store?
Having a website is like having another business opportunity as it allows 24/7 non-stop viewing by potential and existing customers. It lets potential customers get a glimpse of what we can offer.
From there, if we can gain their confidence, they will buy on the spot or if we can catch their interest, they will come to our brick-and-mortar shop for further viewing and understanding.
What has been the most exciting part of the journey after digitising your business?
The fact that we can tap on the international market. For our business, we are very much confined to the local market due to regulation of live plants/soil import and export.
With a digital business, we allow ourselves to be exposed to the international market, especially with most countries now under a lockdown and barred from travel.
These days, we notice more and more overseas consumers buying gifts for their loved ones stuck in Singapore.
Our next step is to tap on this aspect and venture into overseas supply of our tropical plants.
> Check out The Green Capsule Instagram Page
> Check out The Green Capsule Facebook Page
What are the 4 things that you wish you would have known earlier when starting your business?
1. Time, you really need to set yourself a great deal of time to build this business.
You will be sacrificing a lot of time constantly and never ending.
You can’t expect the business to go on automation, it is nearly impossible to do that without the sacrifice.
In fact, it is now 2.30am, and I’m writing this answer.
2. Don’t start a business if you intend to start a family!
This is link to point 1, if you are going to spend a great deal of time, don’t start a family.
The most you can do is to find a loving partner that understands your situation and get married. But if you intend to have kids, then at least hit a certain milestone in the business before having one.
I’m a father with two daughters (3.5 years old and 1 year old), it is extremely difficult to juggle among family, business and yourself.
3. For someone to start a business, there must be the pull factor. Either money or passion.
Often, the money factor won’t bring you too far. Business has its ups and downs, and you can’t be profitable all the time. There will be a down period, so if you just focus on money as the main factor, then you will be pretty miserable especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ultimately, passion burns longer than anything. Of course, you will need a threshold, you can’t blindly follow passion cause eventually you might use up all your savings and assistance.
4. Don’t give up.
For instance, Singapore went into lockdown last year, and our brick-and-mortar shop was closed for 2 months. As a result, we generated zero income from our physical shop.
Before that, we expected Singapore to go into lockdown judging from all the news we got around the world. That spurred us to go full gear into digitalisation.
We didn’t give up, we just worked harder in another direction and so during lockdown, we still had some sales and managed to tide off the difficult time.
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