[Matrix Moments] From financing to insurance, DeHaat, Ninjacart, VeGrow, WayCool founders list opportunities in agritech

In this episode of the Matrix Moments, the founders of agritech startups DeHaat, Ninjacart, VeGrow, and WayCool discuss the untapped opportunities in the sector with Sanjot Malhi, Director, Matrix Partners India.

In the final part of the Matrix Moments Agritech podcast, the founders of DeHaat, Ninjacart, Vegrow, and Waycool spoke about the different opportunities that are open in the sector.

Shashank Kumar, Co-founder of DeHaat, explained in India even with several agritech startups growing, there are many areas in the space that people can work towards, including lending and insurance that are early in India.

“And you will not find many people working or having a tailor-made model for farmers, be it the model related to vegetable aggregation or agri input selling or contract farming, for that matter. In a way, this credit part or getting access to capital for a farmer, that’s an important aspect,” added Shashank. 

He explained there was a need for a deep tech product in credit, lending, and insurance for farmers. 

“We do have technology where you can monitor the crops spatially, but in terms of accuracy and when you especially talk about small holders, where your farm size will be as small or as large as a cricket pitch, I think accuracy is still missing,” said Shashank. 

Work on recovery

However, Shobhit Jain, Co-founder of VeGrow, added that organised output sale is very limited. He explained that this means, you end up selling to farmers and you end up giving credit to farmers, and recovery becomes such a difficult aspect for such a huge customer base that profiling, credit score, and all the details are just not available. 

“That was the key challenge and this was close to four when I was at ITC looking at financing the farmers and we were working with banks at that point of time. My challenge at that point of time — and I think now that with more organisation coming in at the output space, the people who can guarantee or assure you obviously your back sale or kind of commitment and that would become very attractive,” explained Shobhit. 

How relevant are you?

The market, however, was too unorganised for recovery and the effort for the same would be high. But it is an unsolved problem. Adding to this Thirukumaran Nagarajan, Co-founder, Ninjacart, added that the agriculture segment is highly unorganised. There still are many parts of the supply chain that need to be disrupted and that is where Ninjacart had come into the picture. 

“Today, we might do 1,000 tonnes and then go on to do 10,000 tonnes of vegetables and fruit. But, the fact is if you don’t exist, people will still be happy; maybe they will feel a little bit of pain but our overall question, which we ask ourselves continuously is — if you don’t have an answer for it or you’re pursuing some small portion of it then like how do you make yourself so relevant to the sector or ecosystem that the mere absence of you is felt?” 

India is a largely agrarian nation, with the agriculture sector accounting for more than 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and providing employment to 50 percent of its workforce. The sector still needs to be organised. 

He added. “If I had to start something I have to think through and see this something that’s a question I’ve always wanted to answer before I started but it’s also vice versa. If I keep thinking about that I will never get to do anything. So it’s always like you keep doing, you start building something and suddenly something becomes relevant and we scale it but being a process it’s also important to keep asking yourself like how do you differentiate yourself and make yourself relevant to the current ecosystem stakeholders etc,”

Listen to the podcast here. 

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta


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