Maharashtra-headquartered Agricx Lab, an agritech startup that uses smartphone imaging to assess the quality of agricultural produce, has raised Seed funding to the tune of $500K led by India-focussed VC fund Ankur Capital.
The round also saw the participation of IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE).
As per the official statement, the newly-secured capital will be used to support product development and expansion.
Commenting on the fundraise, Ankur Capital Managing Partner Ritu Verma said, “Globally there is a need to understand the quality of food that we eat. Much of global produce comes from geographies with low penetration of organised players, use of many different seed varieties and farming practices, and a multi-point value chain. Objectively determining the quality at all points becomes all the more important.”
“Technology that is easy to use, can be deployed along all points of the chain provides a critical transparency in food chains that today is hard to determine. Agricx has the potential to disrupt this market,” Verma added.
Founded in 2012 by Ritu Verma and Rema Subramanian, Ankur Capital is an India-focussed Seed stage venture capital firm based in Mumbai. With this investment in Agricx Lab, the firm’s agritech portfolio now includes seven startups.
Among them are farm management software CropIn, online agri-input distribution platform BigHaat; sustainable bio-inputs firm Suma Agro, cleantech cold chain company TESSOL and superfoods startup Health Sutra.
Speaking on the latest investment in Agricx Lab, Verma said, “They [Agricx team] are seasoned professionals and passionate entrepreneurs, backed by a history of consistent delivery on business objectives in their previous roles. What the founders along with the team have demonstrated over such a short span is hugely impressive, and we’re excited to be working together to create a truly world-class enterprise.”
Agricx: Leveraging AI To Make Agri Produce Quality Assessment More Accurate
Agricx Lab was started in October 2016 by Ritesh Dhoot and Saurabh Kumar, with an aim to create a quick, accurate, portable and easy-to-use quality assessment tool for agricultural produce. The technology, according to the co-founders, takes the subjectivity out of the quality assessment process, thereby making every transaction smoother while also cutting done losses.
Essentially, the agritech startup has developed a user-friendly mobile application that uses computer vision and artificial intelligence on images to yield objective, accurate and faster quality assessment of agri-produce.
Agricx currently provides a solution to warehouses and enterprise clients, with plans to extend its offerings across the entire food produce supply chain. Additionally, the company is looking to expand its crop range and quality parameters to bolster its products.
As stated by the founders in the official release, paid pilots of the technology have also been initiated with larger buyers.
Why VCs Are Banking On The Indian Agritech Sector
With more than 58% of the rural population relying on agriculture for sustenance, India currently ranks second globally in terms of farm output.
Around $36 Mn was invested in 15 startups in the space in 2017, as per Inc42 DataLabs. Out of these, Pune-based agritech startup AgroStar raised the highest funding of $10 Mn led by Accel India in March last year.
Mirroring Agrostar in its funding amount was Noida-based EM3 Agri Services, which offers pay-per-use farm services for every step of the cultivation process. The startup raised $10 Mn in a Series B funding round led by Global Innovation Fund (GIF) in August 2017.
Following closely was Bengaluru-based B2B agritech startup, Farm Taaza, that raised $8 Mn Series A funding in a round led by Epsilon Venture Partners in October.
Earlier this month, agritech focussed venture capital firm Omnivore Partners announced the first close of its second fund at $46 Mn. With this, the firm is now looking to back 18 to 20 promising agritech startups over the next four years.
Apart from Omnivore Partners, investors that are active in the agritech space include Future Venture Capital Company Ltd. (FVCCL), IDG Venture, Accel Partners, Aspada Investments, IvyCap Ventures, Unitus Seed Fund, Rabo Equity Advisors, SAIF Partners, Villgro Innovations Foundation, Qualcomm Ventures and IDFC.
Agriculture holds an immense opportunity for Indian startups. With the government promoting the integration of technology to double farmers’ income by 2022, agritech is now a trending sector in the Indian startup ecosystem. How Agricx Lab decides to utilise the $500K funding from Ankur Capital and others remains to be seen.