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Agri-tech start-up AgroStar raises $10 million from Accel India, others

Live Mint

March 8, 2017

Agriculture technology start-up AgroStar was founded by Shardul Sheth and Sitanshu Sheth in 2012. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Agri-tech start-up AgroStar has raised $10 million in series B round of funding led by Accel India, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Existing investors IDG Ventures and Aavishkaar also participated in the round.

The company had raised $4 million in a round led by IDG Ventures in August 2015.

Founded by Shardul Sheth and Sitanshu Sheth in 2012, the company plans to use the funds for team expansion, product development and to expand to pan-India markets.

Owned and operated by ULink AgriTech Pvt. Ltd, Pune-based agriculture-focused company, AgroStar sells agricultural inputs and products to farmers. The service is accessible to farmers through a missed call service or an Android mobile application, removing intermediary layers in agricultural purchases.

Mint reported in 2015 that there are usually three or four layers of agents, dealers and distributors between farmers and the farm inputs they want to buy.

The order placed on AgroStar is delivered directly to the farmer through state transport systems or courier services. It sells seeds, nutrients, crop protection and hardware products through partnerships with multiple national and multinational brands.

“Farmers in India face significant challenges at every point from buying agri-inputs, to improving their yields and finally getting a good price for their produce. We are working hard on solving some of these challenges through technology to make farming more sustainable and profitable for farmers,” said Shardul in a statement.

AgroStar has over 1 million farmers connected on its platform and is currently operational in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Given the increasing penetration of smartphone along with internet consumption, the company will increase focus on developing more mobile-based solutions. It claims that over 35% of its current customer base is using WhatsApp, up from just 10% a year ago.

The company has also built a technology platform driven by data analytics and has domain experts to provide real-time advice to farmers pertaining to technical know-how and suggestions on which products to buy, among others.

According to Tracxn, a start-up data tracker, other agriculture-focused start-ups in this segment include IvyCap Ventures-backed Reuters Market Light that has raised $4.31 million and Ninjacart that has raised $3 million from Accel Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, M and S Capital Partners.