Startup plans to utilize the newly-raised capital in product developments, customer acquisition and geographical expansion
Kochi based Agri-tech start-up, Farmers Fresh Zone Pvt Ltd (FarmersFZ) has raised a seed round of funding from Indian Angel Network (IAN) and it’s maiden VC Fund, IAN Fund, led by Mr. Nagaraja Prakasam and P.K. Gopalakrishnan along with Malabar Angels and Native Lead. The investment will help FarmersFZ strengthen its leadership position in the existing market, bolster its geographical reach in the country and strengthening customer acquisition.
Nagaraja Prakasam veteran IAN investor who led over 9 deals including Uniphore, Gocoop, Freshworld, Saahas zero waste, Neurosynaptic Communication s, SP Robotics, Carbon Masters, Nativespecial, Solaron will be taking the board seat.
Founded in the year 2015 by software engineer turned Entrepreneur, Pradeep P S, FarmersFZ is a multichannel marketplace platform, which bridges the gap between rural farmers and urban customers to provide healthy, premium quality and pesticide-free vegetables and fruits directly from field to the table. Coming from an agricultural family background, Pradeep identified and realized the need for proper marketing of agriculture produce when he noticed some of his family members themselves finding it difficult to sell their produce at a reasonable price. This prompted Pradeep to explore the possibilities of e-commerce for marketing of the agricultural produce and thus conceptualized the idea of FarmersFZ.
Speaking on the occasion, Pradeep P S, CEO at FarmersFZ, said “India is the second-largest producer of Fruits and Vegetables (F&V) in the world after China, and the 300-million-tonne Indian F&V market is estimated at over 4 lakh crore. Moreover, nearly 95 per cent of this is in the unorganised general trade, operating through local vegetable vendors sourcing from traditional mandis and multiple intermediaries. With the right mix of technology and enabling market access, we believe there is potential to transform the value chain of all fresh-produce crops. Through our platform, we are helping the rural farmers turn profitable and directly reach out their customers. We are excited to be associated with Indian Angel Network and leveraging their expertise to strengthen our foothold in the industry.”
Talking about the capital infusion, Nagaraja Prakasam, IAN’s lead investor on his 22nd investment said, “One of the main reason agriculture is not viable to farmers is inefficient supply chain – merely 30% of what consumer pay goes to farmers. FarmersFZ ‘s unique model encourages farmers to use technology to track and use best practices and rewards them with better prices while consumer gets the complete transperency and traceability, so they know the farmer who is growing their vegetables and fruits, and probably visit them as well thus creating community commerce. Pradeep has done this very well that no one in the country could do it.That’s what intrigued me to invest.
After 2 years of my effort in kannur, I’m also pleased to announce Malabar Angeles that is formed after Nativelead model to encourage regional angles to invest in local entrepreneurs is making it’s first investment in FarmersFZ. I congratulate Shilen Sagunan and his team of angels. Kerala has a robust startup community with around 1000 startups based in the city alone. With nature in abundance, there is a huge potential in agriculture industry which is yet to tapped. Hope this would encourage more entrepreneurs come forward to help farmers, instead of just force fitting technology.”
Currently, FramersFZ connects more than 350 profitable farmers and 10,000 customers. The startup further aims at increasing the scalability of the business in next 4 years by adding more 7 more cities in India, connecting 20 lakhs of customers and 25 thousand of profitable farmers. FarmersFZ is also working towards developing and creating an algorithm which can help farmers predict the income basis the produce, yield prediction and profit calculation.
AgriTech industry in India has become a booming field with numerous startups working with technologies such as data analytics, machine learning and satellite imaging, among others, enabling farmers to maximize their output. According to a NASSCOM report, India continued to be among top six countries globally with the most deals in agritech (around $313 mn) as of 2016. The other top countries were the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, and France. The central and state governments are proactively pursuing policies to improve farmers’ lives in India. However, as per the NASSCOM Agritech report, only 9% of all funding in last 5 years was focused on growth stage start-ups. This emphasizes the need for Corporate and Government accelerators to help Agritech start-ups grow to the next level. With increasing interest from startups and investors to develop the space along with the government’s aid to improve the lives of farmers in India, the agricultural industry is all set to witness the next generation of digitalised growth.
Source: BW Disrupt
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