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Investor interest in agritech startups set to gather pace amid promise of scale, experts say

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Investor interest in agritech startups set to gather pace amid promise of scale, experts say

Agritech startups in India have started to evince strong interest from the investor community. Investors say the agriculture sector, which is witnessing the early signs of technology led disruption, has the potential to build scalable businesses that can impact India’s large farming population.

Until recently, Indian agritech startups did not enjoy the kind of media attention or investor interest as did their counterparts in the ecommerce or foodtech sectors. But that’s set to change, say industry experts.

Why investors are narrowing their focus

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Why investors are narrowing their focus

As the process of starting and building businesses changes, the investment landscape too is evolving to suit the changing demands of entrepreneurs. Industry watchers have noticed clear tendencies among VC firms to go the way of depth rather than breadth, investing with dedicated focus on specific sectors rather than scattering cash around and hoping to hit the jackpot.

pi Ventures, for instance, funds and supports entrepreneurs working on next-gen tech such as AI, machine learning and blockchain. Alacrity India’s investment strategy is to focus solely on B2B SaaS enterprises. Omnivore VC is focused on solutions for the Indian agriculture space, and HealthQuad wants to support next-generation healthcare businesses. There is also a new crop of firms, including Iron Pillar, Ideaspring Capital and Endiya Partners, driven by their partners’ own expertise and passion to invest exclusively in IPdriven, deep tech ventures.

BREAKING EXCLUSIVE: Indian AgriFood Startups Raise $1.7bn in Venture Capital 2013 – 2017

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BREAKING EXCLUSIVE: Indian AgriFood Startups Raise $1.7bn in Venture Capital 2013 – 2017

Indian AgriFood Startups Are Innovating to Give Consumers What They Want, and Fix a Broken Industry.

India has a rapidly growing population of 1.3 billion and is predicted to surpass China as the most populated country in the world by 2024. With billions of mouths to feed and a broken agricultural supply chain, innovation in the country’s agrifood industry is desperately needed.

Luckily there is a bustling startup ecosystem working on disrupting the status quo across the value chain, and today we release the first-ever look at the India AgriFood Startup industry in collaboration with local agrifood VC Omnivore. (Download the free 36-page report here.)

Agritech Sprouts Start-Ups

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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.

Leader Talk: Interview with Mark Kahn, Founding Partner, Omnivore

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Leader Talk: Interview with Mark Kahn, Founding Partner, Omnivore

NASSCOM staff writer in conversation with Mark Kahn, Founding Partner, Omnivore. Mark Kahn is a Founding Partner of Omnivore, an impact venture fund that invests in Indian startups developing breakthrough technologies for food, agriculture, and the rural economy. Mark serves as a Director for multiple Omnivore-backed startups, including Skymet, Eruvaka, and MITRA.

Previously, Mark was the Executive Vice President (Strategy & Business Development) at Godrej Agrovet, one of India’s foremost diversified agribusiness companies. At Godrej Agrovet, Mark was responsible for corporate strategy, M&A, R&D, and new business incubation.

Earlier in his career, Mark worked for Syngenta and PFM. He earned a BA (Honors) from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar. Mark is Co-Chair of the HBS Impact Investing Alumni Group, a member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) National Council on Agriculture, and a member of the Ag Innovation Showcase Advisory Committee.

Moneyball: Mark Kahn Of Omnivore Says Indian Agritech Sector Is Ripe For Disruption

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Moneyball: Mark Kahn Of Omnivore Says Indian Agritech Sector Is Ripe For Disruption

Venture capital firms are almost synonymous with technology startups. Some of the biggest names in the venture capital industry have seen their path to success paved through the golden doors of Silicon Valley. So why would a venture capital firm like Omnivore bet its money on agricultural entrepreneurs?

Mark Kahn, the founding partner at Omnivore, believes that the answer is a no-brainer as when the opportunity involves feeding 1/6th of humanity and taking part in the ecosystem that makes that happen. Founded in 2010 by Jinesh Shah and Mark Kahn, Omnivore started operations in 2011 and is entirely focused on the agritech space in India.

Sidbi commits $29m to four funds to support startup financing

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Sidbi commits $29m to four funds to support startup financing

The Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi) on Friday tweeted that it has committed Rs 200 crore under the Fund of Funds Scheme (FFS) to four alternative investment funds (AIFs) namely Omnivore Partners India Fund 2, TVS Shriram Growth Fund 3, IQ Alpha III, and Capaleph Indian Millennium SME Fund.

For India’s agri-tech startups, the wind of change is finally here

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For India’s agri-tech startups, the wind of change is finally here

First, two things you need to know, in case you don’t already, about India’s agriculture sector and India’s startups.

One: Nearly half of India’s population works in agriculture. But it contributes less than a fifth of India’s GDP. In other words, it has very poor operational efficiency.

Two: The vast majority of Indian startups, particularly the big venture capital-funded ones, are urban-centric. They have founders with urban backgrounds, they cater to urban demand, and are ov ..

A weatherman takes a long, hard look at his life’s work

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A weatherman takes a long, hard look at his life’s work

Fifteen years back, Jatin Singh started a company called Skymet Weather Services. With the belief that Indians need a better and more accurate understanding of the weather. Not just day-to-day, but about the monsoon—the lifeblood of the economy. Through all these years, Skymet and Singh have endured a lot. Grown. Raised money. Added people. Thought of different ways of survival. But now, the weatherman is a little pissed. He is also helplessly hopeful

Indigo Ag Makes Bid to Become Agtech Marketplace, Launches Ag Data Platform

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Indigo Ag Makes Bid to Become Agtech Marketplace, Launches Ag Data Platform

Indigo Agriculture, the agtech startup best known for plant microbiome technology — and raising a cool $403 million in four years — is making a bid to become an agtech product distributor and digital platform.

Indigo manufactures cotton, corn, wheat, soybean and rice seeds coated in a casing of beneficial microbes to help withstand stressors such as heat and drought and use fewer chemicals. The company buys that crop back from farmers for a premium based on its sustainability credentials.

But the company is expanding its offering into new domains, and at the end of the year it is launching Indigo Insight, a digital product offering precision agriculture decision support for agronomists and advisors, Barry Knight, Indigo’s head of commercial operations for North America, and head of the Indigo Research Partners Program, revealed to AgFunderNews.