TechSparks 2019: Meet the tech Ninja fixing the supply chain for fruits and vegetables
At TechSparks2019, Ninjacart Co-founder Thirukumaran Nagarajan explains how the startup built a technology-led efficient supply chain for fruits and vegetables.
Retail is all about the details. Bengaluru-based agritech startup Ninjacart embarked on this journey to crack the puzzle of the supply chain for fresh fruits and vegetables four years back. Today it handles over 1,400 tonnes of daily supply to thousands of small kirana stores across seven cities in India.
At the 10th edition of TechSparks, Thirukumaran Nagarajan, Co-founder and CEO, Ninjacart, more popularly known as Thiru, tells us how the startup identified this space.
“This segment chose us and we were very curious about the problem though we never assumed we have a solution," he explained.
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The founding team of Ninjacart spent months on understanding the various challenges of the fruits and vegetables market, and how they could bring a higher efficiency to the system. Though Ninjacart started as a hyperlocal delivery setup, the startup quickly pivoted towards the supply of fruits and vegetables with a clear focus on customers.
According to Thiru, customers have varied needs. But, Ninjacart decided to focus only on small retailers, by cutting down on the supply to restaurants and supermarkets.
This was a courageous decision by the startup as it meant that they were supplying to those customers who would procure smaller quantities, unlike a supermarket. However, Thiru added, “The decision to pivot was crucial and the courage to make that decision is what keeps you going.”
Over the last four years, Ninjacart has brought numerous benefits to farmers, who have witnessed a 15-20 percent rise in their income, and small retail shop owners who do not have to worry about the supply of fruits or vegetables.
“From the time we take the farmers produce from their gate, the entire inventory risk is ours,” Thiru said.
At the same time, the Ninjacart Co-founder is quick to clarify that it would be wrong to assume that farmers are not tech-savvy. “We have seen a 70 percent adoption rate of our app by farmers but we have to keep the entire thing simple,” he added.
However, managing and operating the entire supply chain of fruits and vegetables is a considerable challenge due to various factors. There are cases of stealing, trucks not reaching on time, avoiding wastage, etc.
Ninjacart has solved this through various in-house technological innovations by studying the problem deeply.
Thiru also admits the mistakes he had made in the past, given his background as the founder of six startups. “In my earlier venture, we made the mistake of focussing on profitability rather than on scale,” he added.
To startup founders and entrepreneurs, Thiru said, “Never take any shutdown as a failure; it is a journey. One needs to enjoy this journey. Be curious and become a problem solver."
(Edited by Suman Singh)
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