The week that was: from the impact of COVID-19 on the agri sector to a new edtech startup

This week, we take a close look at how the COVID-19 lockdown helped accelerate the country's up-and-coming agritech ecosystem, a new edtech startup that teaches children life skills, and IoT-based facility management startup Smart Clean.

Like all other industries, India's agriculture sector — the biggest contributor to the nation's GDP — was faced with huge uncertainties after the coronavirus pandemic. Things worsened after the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 25

Food supply chains froze, farmers struggled to purchase inputs right ahead of the harvest season, access to marketplaces and mandis was limited, agri-logistics and transport systems were broken, post-harvest loss mounted, and the cost of unsold produce pinched farmer finances. All in all, the sector was in complete disarray.

But, the agritech sector gained tremendously from the lockdown and even after it. The key findings from a joint study on India's post-pandemic agri landscape by Accel Partners and Omnivore tell us more. 

Agritech companies have made big impact in 2020

On another note, is there a learning platform for children between the ages of five and 16? The answer is yes. Edtech is a sought-after industry amidst the pandemic, and a new startup – Uable – has emerged from unicorn Vedantu’s stable. 

Saurabh Saxena, one of the founders of Vedantu, has seen it all in education. And yet, when he was looking to launch a startup the third time around, he couldn’t think of any space other than education.  

In 2019, Saurabh founded Bengaluru-based Uable, a life skills development platform for children between six and 16 years.  Along with Vamsi Krishna, Pulkit Jain, and Anand Prakash, Saurabh had initially started Lakshya Institute in Patiala and Chandigarh to help students in Tier II and III cities get admission to top tier universities. 

Saurabh Saxena

On startups, would you ever have thought getting rid of inventory would lead to building a big business?.

When Chinese mobile phone brand Gionee decided to discontinue its India operations in 2018, its distributors, retailers, and wholesale sellers were burdened with unsold stocks. Ahmedabad-based B2B online marketplace EOL Stocks came to its rescue and helped in liquidating all its unsold inventory in a short period of time. 

In the highly competitive, fast moving, and razor-thin operating profit margin business of selling mobile phones, unsold devices cause the biggest problem for companies in this segment. 

EOL Stocks has been successfully solving this problem for close to three years now. “I decided to do something about this and created a technology platform to solve this industry problem,” says Apoorv Bhatt, Founder and CEO, EOL Stocks.

Apoorv Bhatt, Founder and CEO, EOL Stocks

From inventory to facilities, did you think facility management needed technologies?

In the facility management and cleaning industry, processes are labour-intensive with a very high attrition rate, which leads to failed service level agreements.

This is a global problem and companies are left with overused and damaged equipment. It is nearly impossible for a supervisor to maintain cleanliness at a facility without being physically present and manage the array of workforce management systems.

IoT tech from SmartClean

To address this, Smart Clean, a Bengaluru and Singapore-based startup, uses IoT and SaaS to bring the entire ecosystem of facility managers on to a single platform.

The company was founded by Lav Agrawal, Stella, and Abhishek Mishra in 2017, and their tech provides cleaners and their managers with real-time notification with work details.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai