Bengaluru-based organic, ready-to-cook processed food startup, YCook has raised $5 Mn in a Series B round of funding from Binny Bansal backed venture capital firm, 021 Capital and Netherlands-based impact fund Oikocredit.
The startup plans to use the funding to continue expanding its reach, accelerate product growth and innovation and invest in marketing. Their range of products including boiled vegetables, fruits and lentils are marketed under the brand name Ta-daa!, which have a shelf life of one year.
On the development, Janardhan Linga Swahar, CEO, YCook, said, “Working closely with the farmers not only ensures quality in the produce but also allows us to help farmers become more conversant in scientific farming methods and thereby creating a sustainable farming environment for generations to come. We are committed to securing our land resources for our future generations in our little locus of operation”
YCook sells its products through retails chains such as Reliance Retail, Big Bazaar and Nature’s Basket, and ecommerce sites including Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket and Grofers.
On the investment, Sailesh Tulshan, founder of 021 Capital, said, “We are excited about YCook’s focus on building a global consumer product good (CPG) brand from India. They have brought together a rare combination of health and convenience food to consumers with a long shelf life which does not require any cold storage or preservatives.”
YCook was founded in 2013 by Janardhan Swahar, Vijay Reddy and Gayathri Swahar, and it invests in soil testing for every farmer who wants to partner with the firm. At present, the startup boasts of 1,300 active partner farmers across Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
YCook also claims to be a ‘free-from’ company i.e. all the products are free from pesticides, gluten and GMO. It has been providing products pan India in the multi-chain modern trade formats and also in nine countries across the globe.
Commenting on the investment, Anirudh Sarda, Equity Officer (India), Oikocredit said, “The Investment in YCook meets our Equity strategy of investing in companies that deliver high social impact by improving the quality of life of smallholder farmers. YCook brings benefits to the overall eco-system by promoting good agricultural practices and supplying healthy food.”
The YCook team of agriculture experts assesses the aptness of the soil for different crops and advises farmers on soil nutrients required and the best-suited crops.
Further, the seeds are chosen after multiple rounds of research and development and the chosen seeds are germinated in centralised nurseries in different locations from where the saplings are given to farmers free of cost. The fresh produce from the farms are processed within 20 hours of harvest so that it can retain its peak harvest freshness, texture, taste, colour and nutrition.
The startup claims to be in a position to improve farmer yield per acre by 27% and revenue by 112%.
A Look On The Indian Agritech Space
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, according to 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.
Earlier, Agritech focussed venture capital firm Omnivore Partners announced the first close of its second fund at $46 Mn with which 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.
Recently, Pune based agritech startup EarthFood raised its Seed funding round of $949K (INR 6.4 Cr) from Rairah Corporation. Prior to this, Chandigarh-based agritech startup AgNext raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding through its Omnivore partners India Fund 2.
Both the central and state governments are proactively pursuing policies to improve the lives of farmers in the country. With all these developments in place, agritech has now become the buzzword in the Indian startup ecosystem, which currently has over 200+ agritech startups.
The income of the farmers in India derived from their work in Agriculture and farmers’ income in India is a key focus area for the government and the Union Budget 2018 further reiterated the same. The current government has an ambitious aim, that of doubling the average income of farmers by 2022.