Indian agriculture has been a key contributor to India’s growth story and continues to be one of the biggest employers. With the inclusion of technology, the sector has seen major disruption.
The trend of leveraging technology in agriculture has grown in the last few years with support from various stakeholders — government, farmers, investors, innovators and more.
There are more than 1,090 agritech startups in India and according to Datalabs by Inc42, the total funding in agritech startups in India grew from $46.1 Mn 2017 to $66.6 Mn in 2018.
One of the active players is Jaipur-based Freshokartz. The company is building an integrated solution to support farmers for their end-to-end needs for produce and also enable them to sell the same in the locality. Backed by multiple angel investors and HNIs, the company has now raised fresh funding.
Talking to Inc42, Rajendra Lora, founder and CEO of Freshokartz said that the company has raised $150K (INR 1 Cr) in a pre-series A round of funding. The investment has come in from Jaipur-based Innovana ThinkLab.
Lora told us that the funds will be used to expand into new districts in Rajasthan. “We will be reaching 100 physical centres next month and doing business of more than INR 25 CR ARR. We will be expanding our tech team and building the application for all the stakeholders. Our all the centres will be managed by mobile app and CRM,” he told Inc42.
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How Does Freshokartz Work?
To begin right at the start of the agriculture chain, Freshokartz provides soil data-based crop and fertiliser recommendations to farmers. For this, the company leverages offline presence by setting up franchise-based or its own centres in the villages in every 10K farming population.
With farmers on board, the company assesses data such as soil quality, past crops, financial performance etc with the help of field executives, who visit the farmers monthly. It then manages all the data from every centre through its mobile application to give recommendations. The company charges around INR 500-INR 1000 from each farmer for yearly support under the subscription model.
The company claims that after working with farmers for the entire crop lifecycle, it can accurately measure the farmer’s income and increase it by 50%.
Housed at iStart at Bhamashah Techno Fun, Freshokartz today has 75 centres including 45 FPOs and around 90K farmers in network. Lora told us that the company is transacting with around 20K farmers monthly.
“We are active in all the districts of Rajasthan and more penetration in Jaipur, Alwar, Tonk, Sawai Madhopur, Sikar etc,” he added.
Agritech Challenges And Plans Ahead
While farming is a labour-intensive job, the idea of selling a subscription model to farmers appears to be a big challenge. Today, the largest internet companies are also experimenting with subscription models and try to find adopters in Tier 1 markets, so when an agritech startup signs up 1000 farmers as paid subscribers, it is no minor feat.
This shift happened after a pivot six months ago. The company earlier focussed more on enabling B2B supply for businesses directly from farmers, and now has directed its focus more towards farm supply management and managing B2B and deliveries as additions.
Lora explained, “We have farm management software through which we take care of whole crop cycle data like sowing date, fertiliser date and pesticides date, This helps us to keep track of farmers data and help to guide at micro level. For subscribed farmers we help them to market their products/output. Our field executives use mobile app to map farmers data. This helps us to maintain easy data.”
Further, the company is now looking to expand into Haryana and Madhya Pradesh as it believes that the states are growing fast in agriculture.
“Haryana is the top spot for this and Haryana also has big farm land farmers. our target is first to crack all the markets of north India,” Lora told us.
The company is now looking at several partnerships to build on its holistic approach for the business. The company has been doing partnerships with governments as well as NGOs. “We are also exploring tie-ups in fintech where we can provide loans to farmers through financial institutions,” he added. The company is also looking at tying up with precision agriculture tech providers and promoting organic products.
Lora told us the company earned INR 4 Cr in the last fiscal, achieving 100% Y-o-Y growth and is eyeing 300% growth this year.
“We were operational profitable from last one year and major cost was to manage the operations. Now our focus is to grow sustainable with less burn and less fund raises. We believe agritech doesn’t require so much of funds to scale fast, it depends on your strategy.”