Your Name any any other details (site address, twitter handle, mail id(?) etc..
Devgad Alphonso (aka Devgad Hapus)
What exactly do you do?
I am the best mango cultivar in the world, with a sexy shape, an erotic aroma and and ecstatic taste. So I sell myself. I allow my lovers to strip me, lick me, lay me down on their plates, and enjoy me to the fullest.
Oops, would sound grose if humans do it, but I am a fruit na, so allowed. This year, I have started to sell myself directly to my customers through www.devgadmango.com
Why do you do what you do? Is it to make money, to become famous, to retire, to kill boredom ?
1. To protect the brand equity built by my ancestors, which is at stake currently. Any mango is being sold as Devgad Alphonso and I get a bad name.
2. To protect my parents, the farmers, a community that has started to move towards extinction. I want to save this community from being extinct.
3. To make myself available to most people who have never tasted the real me, but some other mango that was sold to them as me.
4. To prove the younger generation of farmers that farming can be profitable if done smartly, adopting some innovative methods.
Is there anything unique in what you do? And here ‘unique’ can mean anything – doing what’s been done for donkeys years and yet in a more cost efficient manner, or something new in a boring business or line or simply inventing something completely new?
Yes. Mangoes have been sold in the market for donkeys years and I innovated this year.
1. This is the first initiative of a direct sale from farmers to customers, using the online medium. Also the first one that used the social media. There are traders selling online for a long time.
2. The thought of this direct initiative struck me on Feb 20, 2011 and the same night I booked the domain www.devgadmango.com. We brainstromed and the website went live on 1 April 2011 and started accepting registrations. By April 22, 2011, when we started accepting orders, we had 1084 registrations from 10 countries. The website had seen 5448 visits from 43 countries in these 22 days. (Can share Google Analytics screenshot). The season lasted till 15 May 2011, in which time we sold 2489 dozens of Alphonso Mango only in Pune and Mumbai through the online model, using the power of social media. I know no other online mangowala that achieved this feat.
3. A first in mango business, I openly declared a no-questions-asked replacement policy. If more than one in one dozen mango turns bad, we replace the entire quantity that was bad.
4. For the first time, I detached pricing of mango from what the traders decide in the market. I dictated the price, in lieu of the promise of a great fruit and great customer service. That paid off. Also for the first time, I kept pricing constant across the season.
5. For the first time in the online mango business, I brought in harvest-after-order model. (Though I discontinued it halfway through, to iron out issues in it)
6. Not seen in the online mango business, I brought in a clear-honest-communication model. I did not hide any facts, apologised when I made mistake and assured of not repeating the mistake, all publicly to the customer. This paid off.
What happens if this fails?
If this fails, it will be back to the ‘jaise they’ condition. Devgad Alphonso would continue to lose its brand equity. Customers would continue to buy any mango as Alphonso, because the vendor is selling it that way. Many customers who have never tasted the real Alphonso, may never in the future get to taste it.
I am getting goosebumps, I shudder at the thought of this failing, I am not going to let this fail, I am not…
Any one or two incidents that make you shiver or feel proud of your journey so far?
Yes, I shivered in my journey. Untimely rains in November and December killed many of my siblings. The cold wave in February affected us a lot. Many of us died then. Then in March, two new species of this pests called Thrips made an appearance and there was no pesticide against them. I shivered to see them scratch my siblings in their avatar as tender mango buds and thrive on the juice or should I say the blood that oozed out of them.
But there were incidents that made me proud too. I was proud at the support customers gave, the feedback they wrote at http://devgadmango.com/blog/?p=148. I was proud at the soft corner the customers have towards farmers.
One particular incident, which made me proud and at which tears of happiness rolled down my cheeks was an email that a patron from US wrote to us. This was after we gave our customers an unhappy news that we cannot provide mangoes in all cities and not export too. He wrote back, ‘I am disappointed that you are unable to ship some mangoes to me in Florida due to factors beyond your control. Are you able to send me authentic Alphonso pulp? By the way, I am impressed by the professionalism, reasonableness and clarity reflected in your email notification, at par with western standards. I left India in 1974. If your customer service is indicative of the trend in India now, I am going to have to change my attitudes. Thank you.’
I felt so happy, proud, literally cried and felt such divine relief.
State one really bad habit and one good habit (if you actually have one)
Yes, I have a bad habit. You know, I am the king of fruits, so I have the nakhara of the king. I need everything royal. The right amount of rain, a itnahee temperature, utnahee sunlight, etc. C’mon yaar, itna nakhara karta hain kya koi? Lekin, nahi, mujhe to attitude dena hain! Very bad habit.
Good habit… Ummm… well, jane do na, main kya apne mooh se apani taareef karu!
What makes you tick? Why the hell are you doing this?
Well, if I don’t do, no one else will. Rather, I was ticked-off because no one was doing this, so I had to step in. Otherwise, there is no dearth of bol-bachchans, who can go on on and on with lectures on what should be done, but don’t have the balls to do themselves. In my village, there is a saying, ‘Shivaji janmava, pan tu shejarchya ghari’, which means a ‘leader/innovator should be born, but in someone else’s home’
Famous last words – if you knew you are going to be hit by a truck tomorrow, what would you like to tell the world (other than crossing the road safely)?
Hmmm, if I were to be hit by a truck, I would be squashed. Even then, a part of me would be useful to someone. A part of me, my seed, will meet Mother Earth, germinate and become a tree. So for a long time after I am gone, I will still be useful to someone and give happiness to someone.
So my last words to readers will be, Life is short, use it to the fullest, give happiness to others and please make sure you do something that will give happiness to someone even after you are gone.
Finally, say YES below the next para:
I solemnly put my hand on my religious book/favorite novel and swear that what I have said above (including my photos) is the truth. So help me, Rodinhood.
Thanks for your help,
देवगड तालुका आंबा उत्पादक सहकारी संस्था मर्यादित
(Devgad Taluka Mango Growers Co-Operative Society Ltd)
At Post. Jamsande, Tal. Devgad, Dist Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, India.
You can be here next! Just visit this link and interview yourself!