Agritech Sprouts Start-Ups
Way back in 2010, Krishna Kumar, a Bengaluru-based electronics engineer, wanted to start an agri-tech company that would address some of the challenges farmers faced in rural Karnataka. Kumar’s aim was to provide a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution for farm digitisation and enable farmers take data-driven decisions on yield prediction, pest control, disease prevention, newer varieties of seeds to maximise production, and others.
However, finding funds for his startup, CropIn, was tough. “Most investors didn’t think agriculture could become a viable business model, especially if it revolved around technology. There weren’t any parallel models,” says Kumar. His team also found it difficult to get customers for their first product, SmartFarm, a farm management solution. So, to build credibility, they approached big and small agri-businesses to use and then validate their product, which they then marketed with endorsements. Things started looking up in 2014-15, in part also because of “the digital transformation, smartphone boom and favourable ecosystem that developed for entrepreneurs”, notes Kumar.