From working in India’s Silicon Valley to greening it: Sriram Aravamudan
Sriram worked in IT for ten years. Now, turning urban spaces into green zones is his mission. He finds it a wonderful way to combine career and desire to make a difference.
A conversation that became a concept
Most coffee table conversations remain just that and don’t leave the confines of the café. But not when they are driven by deep passion as was the case with Sriram Aravamudan. He and friends Shailesh, Athreya and Reena were once chatting over coffee, discussing the depleting greenery in Bangalore when they decided they should do something about it and not just sit there bemoaning the loss. “This was when we thought of starting a work-on-the-weekends company called MySunnyBalcony,” says Sriram. “Our aim was to green up as many urban living spaces as possible using responsible and sustainable gardening practices.” It would go beyond being a cool business idea, becoming a passion to make a difference in a city that was steadily being robbed of its green spaces.
Turning a passion into a pay check
In 2009, these dedicated green entrepreneurs floated a website and launched on social media, which itself was in its infancy in India at the time. “Projects started trickling in and before we knew it, we were in business full time,” remembers Sriram.“We engaged local artisans such as potters, blacksmiths, bamboo workers and carpenters, to create garden products that we designed, that were especially suited to modern living spaces.”
Seven years later, MySunnyBalcony has garden stores across the city, a well-established landscaping practice and an online garden shop. It creates custom gardens in urban spaces like balconies, terraces, patios, offices, restaurants and homes. “We also conduct gardening workshops and do corporate and party gifts,” says Sriram, clearly satisfied with what they’ve been able to achieve – not just as a business, but as a green solution.
Going the green mile
Knowing that he is making a tangible difference makes it hugely rewarding for Sriram. “The biggest high is appreciation from a client for whom we've created a garden,” he says. “It also thrills me immensely to revisit a garden a few years after it has been set up and see all the plants thriving under the owners' care.”
It’s been a big leap from his previous job as a telecommunications engineer. “I took the regular route of working in software as soon as I graduated from college. I worked for 10 years in IT, and my last IT designation was a software architect with Wipro and I enjoyed my work,” says Sriram. He admits though that he had a constant nagging feeling that he needed to do something more meaningful with life. “Gardens, green spaces and a concern for the environment were definitely my passion and so I decided to get in fulltime the moment I had the opportunity,” Sriram says.
The heart has its reasons
He believes that if you know in your heart that you need to do something on your own, then it's just a matter of time before you end up taking the plunge. Yes, there are perks that come with a corporate job and Sriram misses his colleagues. “But I have no regrets whatsoever for having left it,” he says with conviction.
The sense of fulfillment comes also from the MySunnyBalcony engagement with local artisans to create a host of garden products and accessories especially suited to urban garden spaces. “Our products and accessories are an outcome of contemporary design and the traditional skills of scores of artisans and craftspeople across Karnataka and India. We are committed to bringing back the traditional craft skills of the country, as well as bringing back the gardens into the city, up the elevator and into balconies and terraces,” says Sriram. It's all about the passion for greening urban spaces for this agent of change. And he's doing it in signature style, one sunny balcony at a time.
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