This blockchain startup aims to be a game-changer in supply chain space

Founded by Manish Chandrashekar and Mausom Saikia, Bengaluru-based Cultivo uses blockchain to help brands connect with their vendors and consumers better.

Today, everyone is looking at digitising their supply chain business. Typically, most brands struggle when it comes to converting paperwork to digital data. And then there are other issues like warehouse management systems, inventory tracking solutions, and ERP solutions.

Providing a solution to these problems is Bengaluru-based Cultivo. Founded by Manish Chandrashekhar and Mausom Saikia in 2019, the startup is bringing a mix of technology and finance to de-risk supply chains, increase efficiency, and reduce back-office costs and errors.

Snapshot of Cultivo

The startup’s blockchain-based SaaS product allows tracking of purchase orders, receipts, and trade-related paperwork, and converts them into digital assets. Blockchain allows users to look at how the product is being manufactured, packaged, transported, tested for quality, and shipped to consumers.

“Supply chains have a lot of data and most of it is unorganised and are paper-based documents. Consumers have no insight about how their product is shipped. We solve these issues by helping companies streamline their data and visualise their supply chain in real-time. We make relevant information available to customers by scanning the QR code to know the journey of their products,” says Manish.

The early days

A graduate of Ambedkar Institute of Technology in Bengaluru, Manish wanted to be an entrepreneur right from the beginning. His love for management pushed him to become a research assistant at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) for two years. Here, he began his research and internship at the Digital Innovation Lab at IIM Bangalore in 2017.

Manish worked on blockchain technologies that could track the supply chain for products in menstruation hygiene. This idea led him to create a blockchain platform that could trace the origin and quality of products in agriculture, textile, and pharmaceuticals. To become an entrepreneur, he also pursued a launchpad course at NSRCEL and began working on a couple of iterations.

At IIMB, he met Mausom Saikia, who was excited with Manish’s idea, and they decided to launch Cultivo. Mausom is still a student at Jain University and is completing his undergraduate degree in Computer Science. Through Mausom, Manish met Ishaan Kohli, an engineer from BITS Pilani, who was working as a research intern at IIT Delhi. At present, the startup has a ten-member team.

As of now, the startup said it has just finished its pre-incubation at the Coffee Board’s Centre for Entrepreneurship Development.

How does it work?

Data-driven decisions are the future of supply chain. But companies have technical challenges in integrating technology licence software for the digital transformation of their business. This is where Cultivo comes into play.

Cultivo’s product integrates with all logistics tools, gathers data from those systems, compares the paper data uploaded by the organisation on the platform, and then uses blockchain in the supply chain - from production to consumer - to verify the authenticity of the product. This way it solves a very important broken link in the ecosystem, which is to bring all parties associated with a retail company under one platform.

“Our solution is three-fold. The first part helps authentic products, verify their claims, and gain trust of consumers by passing the compliance set by our partner certification bodies. The second part consolidates the supply chain data of a company and helps them visualise it on our dashboard. The third part is the blockchain that we have built. This connects the dots of all the steps a product has to go through before reaching a customer, and allows consumers to access the journey with the help of a QR code,” says Manish.

The startup first tested the product at IIM-B where senior students were building a supply chain solution for a client. Although this was a project, Cultivo’s solution was integrated to trace and track the product.

The business

According to MarketsandMarkets, the size of the global blockchain industry is pegged at $3 billion at present and will be $39 billion by 2025.

According to the startup, less than Rs 25 lakh has been invested in the company. The startup offers a customised subscription model for its customers. If a company wants to partner with them, they have to pay a monthly boarding fee. The startup also offers a free two-month trial to its clients. As of now, Cultivo has five clients.

After a year of building the product, Cultivo started its sales only in January 2020. Since the startup is in its early days of product deployment, it said it is not in a position to reveal its revenue numbers.

The current plan is to finish the projects with the companies it has partnered with so that it can customise the features it offers as per their requirement and deliver value.

In the next 18 months, the startup wants to build a strong sales channel and focus on hiring engineers who can scale up the product.

IBM Blockchain is a similar product that has been implemented in Walmart. Some of the other companies working in the space include US-based startups such as OriginPort, Opentrail, and Everledger.

Edited by Megha Reddy