In the start-up world, agritech – the amalgamation of agriculture and technology -- is always looked upon as the final frontier. Reason: barriers in terms of vastness of the sector, awareness, literacy and the stronghold of middlemen who do business in a very opaque manner to serve their own interests.
However, it is often said that challenges are only opportunities when looked at with the right lens. And, Bhopal-based Udit Sangwan and Charu Chaturvedi - both batchmates at IIM Ahmedabad – looked at agritech with the lens that showed them the opportunities.
The duo founded Agrigator in September 2019 when they were convinced that the agriculture supply chain was fraught with challenges and gaps that technology could solve or fill.
“The agriculture supply chain is very complex and fragmented… We are solving it for 2.5 million processors as in India, 90 per cent of processors and millers purchase grains from traders through brokers,” said Sangwan.
“These businesses face multiple operational inefficiencies due to which they are unable to scale their business. The solution to these concerns can be found in a product-service ecosystem. We are creating a suite for services for secondary side stakeholders, integrating procurement, logistics and financing. These services can coexist peacefully and connect with each other, which makes them more powerful and valuable for users,” he added.
Sangwan is a second-generation entrepreneur whose father has been in the agriculture supply chain sector for three decades and so is well aware that there is too much dependency on middlemen in the supply chain arena.
Meanwhile, co-founder Charu Chaturvedi came from a technology background having already developed softwares for streamlining supply chains and logistics.
Simply put, Agrigator is a B2B digital supply chain platform that aims to bring all stakeholders – buyers & sellers of grains, traders, local mills, industries, exporters and even fleet owners – on a common platform.
The start-up’s aggregator platform facilitates on-spot logistics in the non-perishable segment of the agriculture supply chain with just a few clicks. This assumes significance as on-spot logistics is typically very fragmented and covers almost 70 per cent of the agri-logistic segment.
And if the growth in business volume is anything to go by then they are indeed seeing a steady growth in demand.
The start-up, which registered 90 trips in March 2021, ended the calendar year with more than 1,500 trips with the GFV rising from Rs 40 lakh in March 2021 to Rs 8.5 crore in December 2021.
Further, the fiscal year 2021-22 saw the start-up’s GMV surge 710 per cent with the revenue growth pegged at a whopping 738 per cent – it charges a percentage for its services and also has a membership fee for premium services.
While the venture started with local industries and agriculture markets (or mandis) in and around Bhopal, they now have a presence in multiple states including Gujarat, Haryana, Delhi, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. They are present in over 120 APMCs in the country.
More importantly, the start-up plans to cover the length and breadth of the country in the next one year.
“We are tech and logistics first company. Logistics is the bigger pain and a centralised hook for entire supply chain. We are scaling our logistics arm, resulting in winning customer trust. Logistics is our entry level service, thereafter users begin to use procurement and factoring-based financing. This creates stickiness and eventually they start using our entire suite of services,” pointed out Sangwan.
Interestingly, there is no dearth of competition for Agrigator as it operates in many segments of the overall agritech space including marketplace, logistics and even agri-finance. It has to compete with entities like Bijak, Agribazaar, Delhivery and Truck Suvidha, among others.
In terms of funding, the start-up has already raised two rounds with well-known individuals like Ness Wadia, Sanjay Mehta of 100X.VC, Manish Modi of Mastermind Capital and Apoorva Ranjan Shama of Venture Catalyst as investors.
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