Indore-based Agstack Technologies, which owns and operates agritech startup Gramophone, has raised $1 Mn (INR 6.40 Cr) Pre-Series A funding from Info Edge. Gramophone is a technology-enabled marketplace that focusses on enabling efficient farm management.
The company had earlier secured an undisclosed amount of angel funding from a clutch of investors including Ravi Garikipati, Chief Technology Officer of Flipkart; Ajith Pai, Director at Green Earth; Sanjay Ramkrishnan, former Senior Director and Head Product Marketing at Flipkart and Nitin Agarwal, VP, Wave Crest Group, among others.
Info Edge’s stock exchange filings stated, “As part of the company’s strategic investments, the acquisition would help the company to diversify its presence into a new line of business within the Internet services industry.”
Post the investment, the aggregate shareholding of Info Edge in Gramophone would be 25% on fully converted and diluted basis.
Speaking of the latest fundraise from Info Edge, Gramophone co-founder Harshit Gupta said, “Technology has a big role to play in taking solutions to 100 Mn farmers in India. With this funding we are opening a technology centre in Bengaluru. We are working on an integrated system for personalised crop advisory, which includes image recognition for pest and disease diagnosis, and nutrition management for better yield.”
Gupta further stated that the fresh capital would also be utilised to expand the startup’s reach to over 1 Mn farmers in the next 6-12 months.
An Overview Of Gramophone Growth Story
Founded in 2016 by IIT Kharagpur graduates Nishant Vats and Tauseef Khan, along with IIM Ahmedabad alumnus Harshit Gupta, Gramophone is an agritech startup that is striving to create a difference in farming by bringing timely information, technology and right kind of inputs to achieve better yields for farmers.
It is envisioned as a one-stop solution for all kinds of inputs for the farmers. Farmers can buy quality agricultural input products such as seeds, crop protection, nutrition, implements and agri hardware directly from the company’s mcommerce platform.
Gramophone’s agronomic intelligence provides a variety of farm management advisory solutions to farmers by leveraging the power of image recognition, soil science, smart crop selection and personalised information led cropping system. This enables the farmers to choose authentic and suitable farm inputs.
So far, Gramophone claims to have received more than 60,000 calls and has catered to 50,000 farmers in Madhya Pradesh. Through their tech solutions, farmers have managed to increase crop productivity by 20% to 30% on an average, the founders claimed.
Increasing Investor Interest In 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, 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.
Last month, Maharashtra-headquartered Agricx Lab, an agritech startup that uses smartphone imaging to assess the quality of agricultural produce, raised Seed funding to the tune of $500K led by India-focussed VC fund Ankur Capital.
Around the same time, 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. The newly-secured funding from Info Edge will likely help Gramophone to tap into the growing agritech market in its home state of Madhya Pradesh as well as across the country.