India has witnessed many different startups with many inspiring stories, but, this AgTech start-up agroStar, strives to help farmers succeed & is an inspiration indeed. AgroStar is a full-service solutions provider addressing three of the biggest issues faced by farmers: lack of access to high-quality Agri inputs, knowledge and information gaps brought on by conventional farming, and difficulty accessing the best markets to sell their produce.
What Is AgroStar?
Through the omnichannel platform of AgroStar, which offers real-time agronomy advice and access to high-quality farm inputs, AgroStar has helped farmers grow better-quality crops, boost their yields by 30%–100%, and cut costs.
Additionally, AgroStar is assisting farmers in selling their goods in domestic and international markets that provide a better rate through the acquisition of INI Farms. Consequently, creating a full-stack approach and addressing all of the issues faced by farmers.
Currently, AgroStar uses an omnichannel strategy to service millions of farmers throughout five Indian states. With over 5 million users and a retail network of more than 3500 stores, they have created India’s largest Agri Advisory Center and a highly active digital farmer network on the AgroStar app which is rapidly expanding.
Their platform, which is fueled by data and technology, enables them to address large-scale issues faced by farmers and brings them one step closer to achieving their purpose of “Helping Farmers Win.”
Man With An Idea
AgroStar, India’s first and largest agriculture m-commerce platform was founded by Shardul Sheth along with his brother Sithanshu Seth. Shardul is the CEO and co-founder of Agrostar. He is the man behind AgroStar’s operations & growth, product management, technology, and customer experience.
Before founding AgroStar, Shardul worked at Best Buy in the United States for six years. He holds a B.Com from HR College in Mumbai and an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States.
How AgroStar Started?
AgroStar, created in 2010 by Shardul Sheth, a former executive at the consumer electronics company Best Buy, changed its focus to mobile commerce to provide end-to-end technology solutions for quality farming and Agri products directly to farmers through a missed call.
In 2010, the brothers founded AgroStar out of a 100-square-foot office in Mumbai, but they quickly realised they needed to be nearer to the market. They relocated to Pune and started the project from scratch.
It is the most financially stable agribusiness startup in India that has made the finest use of technology. For example, using analytics, they were able to identify the top 80% of farmers’ crop-specific difficulties from digitized agronomy-based questions.
They provide solutions to farmers which save costs and boost yields via the app and phone calls. There are more farming stories just like AgroStar, Read about – Man From LEEDS Business School, UK Left His High Package Job To Start Sustainable Farming
Problems Faced By Agrostar
In the beginning, it was not easy, by 2013, both the brother’s depleted their savings. They launched a pilot where farmers could just make a “missed call” to acquire what they needed without worrying about capital. For a month they served as the call Center agents in their own company because they had no workers to accept those calls.
Traditional distribution methods took more than a week to reach farmers’ doorsteps, which was problematic in times of insect or crop disease issues.
Shardul Sheth and his brother Sitanshu Sheth created it from the ground up and hired local business owners to carry goods to villages in the talukas. which led crop protection products to arrive in two to four days.
Solution To The Biggest Challenge
The company didn’t have direct contact with the farmers nor Sheth was a farmer as they lead different daily lives than those who live in cities. It was this issue that made it quite difficult to develop a solution that farmers will accept. It took a lot of time, and now, AgroStar has a solid customer base that is expanding daily.
For farmers, Accurately recognising a problem that impacts their crop and finding an accurate solution is the most important challenge. They typically rely on local, frequently skewed recommendations.
But now Farmers can upload images of diseased crops and infected crops using the AgroStar mobile app’s built-in image recognition technology.
Through a panel of agri-experts and other progressive farmers, the answer to each problem is crowdsourced. The hardest obstacle for Sheth, however, is undoubtedly gauging the customer’s pulse.
Another big challenge faced by them was to achieve a demand-supply balance. It was more challenging since no one thought that a farmer would conduct business online. They struggled for a while and used to spend hours visiting suppliers’ offices to get that issue resolved. But eventually results started showing.
Success After Struggles
AgroStar recently raised $27 million for its operations to be expanded. It has raised more than $40 million in total. More farmers looking for real-time information and are going online because of cheaper internet data.
In 12 to 18 months, there are roughly 10 million farmers using the platform. Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan are the current operating states. The company had revenue of almost Rs 100 crore at the end of March 2018, and it aims to maintain its 100% growth rate year over year.
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