Started by IIT Kharagpur graduates, agricultural inputs startup Gramophone has raised $1 million in pre-Series A funding. The startup works with farmers, providing them with agronomy services and the right inputs during the entire cropping cycle.
Indore-based agritech startup Gramophone has raised pre-Series A funding of $1million from InfoEdge. This is the company’s second round of funding. With this round of funding the team aims to increase its reach to a million farmers in the next six to 12 months, and build innovative tech products customised to solve individual farmer needs.
Gramophone had earlier raised undisclosed funding from Ravi Garikipati, Chief Technology Officer, Flipkart; Ajith Pai, Director, Green Earth (agri supply chain company); Sanjay Ramkrishnan, Ex. Senior Director and Head Product Marketing, Flipkart; Pradeep Kumar Mishra, Director Engineering, Tribune Digital Ventures; Nitin Agarwal, VP, Wave Crest Group; and Ashutosh Saxena, Principal Software Engineer, Deem.
Kitty Agarwal, from Info Edge, said:
“We have invested in Gramophone because it has a great team working on an innovative concept. They are solving problems of real India by helping farmers in improving their livelihoods and awareness. Rural India is the next frontier of internet where the impact can be tremendous.”
What does it do?
Gramophone works with farmers and provides them agronomy services and right inputs during the entire cropping cycle, at their doorstep. Gramophone has a toll-free number, where the farmer can give a missed call and receive a call-back from a Gramophone Agriculture expert giving him advisory on his crop and also recommending suitable products.
The farmer can also place an order at the call centre or through the Gramophone App. The app has information about various crop diseases and nutrition in pictorial format for easy identification by farmers; it also lists suitable products.
The app also offers other useful information for farmers, including mandi prices, weather information, and more. The company has also launched prototype image recognition technology, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to identify the possible disease in a crop based on images shared by the farmer of his field.
“Gramophone’s Agronomic Intelligence provides the best farm management solutions to farmers by leveraging the power of image recognition, soil science, smart crop selection, and personalised information-led cropping system,” says Tauseef Khan, Co-founder and CEO, Gramophone.
The early days
Gramophone was started in 2016 by Nishant Vats and Tauseef Khan. Both the founders are agriculture graduates from IIT Kharagpur and have an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. The duo have worked across agri-business companies, agritech-focused venture capital funds, and have also worked in agritech startup building farm management solutions.
Tauseef and Nishant were soon joined by Harshit Gupta, also a graduate from IIM Ahmedabad. Harshit has worked in the Madhya Pradesh market in the tractors industry and was part of a fast-growing startup in the hotel space in his last stint.
Tauseef says they are confident that Gramophone, with its tech platform and agronomic intelligence, can positively affect the productivity of farmers and be a game-changer for farming in India.
“Technology has a big role to play in taking solutions to 100 million farmers in India. With this funding we are opening a technology centre in Bengaluru. We are working on an integrated system for personalised crop advisory, which includes image recognition for pest and disease diagnosis, and nutrition management for better yield,” Harshit says .
Harshit joining the team helped as initially the team had found it difficult to get knowledge of the MP market. It was also difficult find the initial set of customers - the farmers.
Growth and the future
The team claims to have received more than 60,000 calls and has enabled farmers to produce more from their land. Nishant adds that their technology and product innovations have improved productivity by 20 percent to 30 percent, going up to 50 percent improvement in many cases.
“With such success stories and great positive word of mouth, the company has now reached over 50,000 farmers in Madhya Pradesh,” Nishant says.
Agritech startups are fast growing in India. Last month, Agricx Labs had raised funding from Ankur Capital. It is no surprise as agriculture still accounts for 22 percent of India’s GDP. According to an IBEF report, several players have invested in the agricultural sector in India, mainly driven by the government’s initiatives and schemes.
Gramophone is in the process of creating a tool on its app, which can give personalised advisory to every farmer based on his crop selection, area, and sowing date. Other such breakthrough tech tools that use AI and ML are also planned in the coming months to solve a grower’s every need.
The company aims to reach 1 million farmers in the next one year and to increase its revenue 10 times in the next financial year.
Tauseef says “Our aim is to solve productivity woes of the Indian farmer for which giving access to quality inputs and knowledge is key. In this journey we were looking for long-term partners like Info Edge, with an experience of building large organisations. Their experience would be key to building the right solutions for our customers”.