[Funding Alert] Chennai-based startup Aquaconnect raises $1.1M seed capital led by Omnivore and HATCH

Chennai startup Aquaconnect raised seed funding of $1.1 million led by Omnivore and HATCH. It has a network of over 3,000 shrimp farmers across India and Indonesia.

25th Sep 2019
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Aquaconnect, on Wednesday, announced that it raised $1.1 million in seed funding led by Omnivore and HATCH


With this fund raise, Aquaconnect intends to accelerate the growth of its farmer network, launch new SaaS tools for the aquaculture ecosystem, roll out deep tech improvements on its platform FarmMOJO, and push monetisation on its omnichannel marketplace. 


Reihem Roy from Omnivore will be joining Aquaconnect’s board to support the company’s growth strategy. IC Universal Legal’s Chennai team, led by Sameena Chatrapathy, managed the transaction.


Rajamanohar Sundaram (Raj), Co-founder and CEO, Aquaconnect, said,


“The funding will be used for team expansion, enhancing our AI-enabled platform offering, and increasing our omnichannel marketplace fulfilment capabilities. We aim to reach 15,000 shrimp and fish farmers across India and Indonesia by December 2020. Omnivore and HATCH understand aquaculture, so they are perfect investors for our first institutional funding round.” 
AquaConnect

Rajamanohar, one of three founders of Aquaconnect



What does the platform do?

Founded in 2017 by Raj, Sanjai Kumar and Shanmuga Sundara Raj, Aquaconnect is an AI-enabled platform that integrates the network of aquaculture farmers in Asia with predictive SaaS tools for farm management, along with an omnichannel marketplace. 


Before this round, the Chennai-based startup had raised angel funding from HATCH, a leading global aquaculture-focused startup accelerator. 


The angel funding was after Aquaconnect had participated in HATCH’s inaugural cohort in Bergen, Norway. This is Omnivore’s second investment in an aquaculture startup, following Eruvaka from its first fund in 2013.


By using technology, Aquaconnect helps aqua farmers boost their revenue by predicting diseases of animals and suggesting ways to enhance water quality. With the launch of its mobile application, FarmMOJO, the venture has added value to the lives of over 3,000 farmers across India and Indonesia, and is also planning to expand across South Asia and Southeast Asia. 


The FarmMOJO application has benefited thousands of aqua farmers spread across 750 farms as of today.


“We found out that the revenue of farmers increased by around five percent after using the app. It has also reduced the occurrence of diseases in 120 ponds by assisting farmers in taking corrective actions, thereby minimising losses,” Raj says. 


Aquaconnect


Connecting aqua farmers 

Aqua Connect coordinates with local communities residing close to the farm to collect water samples from freshwater ponds and deposit them in designated laboratories. The FarmMOJO app charges Rs 1,500 per pond, per farmer for four months, which amounts to only 0.2 to 0.5 percent of the total cost of cultivation.


Aqua Connect has employed 10 trained research analysts to test the water and determine results. The outcome of the examination is given out on the FarmMOJO app for farmers to view.


The startup also links up the farm network to an omnichannel marketplace, where the farmers can interact and transact with hatcheries, labs, equipment manufacturers, feed producers, certification bodies, exporters, insurance companies, and banks. 


Commenting on the transaction, Mark Kahn, Managing Partner of Omnivore, said:


“Aquaconnect is well set to catalyse the Blue Revolution 2.0 in India and across Asia. Also, the government of India is ramping up support for the aquaculture sector, carving out a separate Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy as well as launching the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY). We believe Raj and his team are building one of the most promising agritech startups globally, and we look forward to the exciting journey ahead.” 

The market 

The startup is currently focussed on the $7.1 billion aquaculture sector, which produces more than 700,000 tonnes of farmed shrimp annually. An IIT-Kanpur alumnus, Raj is also World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader, and had previously founded Hexolabs, a mobile technology startup that operated across Asia and Africa. 


Sanjai, on the other hand, is an experienced aquaculture farmer who started Vannamei culture, a Shrimp Culture in Tamil Nadu. Shanmugaraj has worked in leadership roles across the insurance industry, with ICICI Prudential, Canara HSBC, and Kotak Life. 


Carsten Krome, Managing Partner of HATCH, said, “Having closely worked with Raj and his team now for more than a year, we are absolutely confident that they can deliver on the sharp growth trajectory that we are sending them on with this capital injection.” 



(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)




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