[Funding alert] AgroStar raises $70M Series D investment, will invest in tech and expansion
Agritech startuphas announced that it has raised $70 million in Series D funding in a round led by Evolvence, global asset manager Schroders Capital, Hero Enterprise, and UK’s development finance institution CDC.
The round also saw participation from existing investors Aavishkaar Capital, Accel, Bertelsmann, Chiratae Ventures, and Rabo Frontier Ventures. The Raine Group was the exclusive advisor for this transaction.
In a conversation with YourStory, Shardul Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, AgroStar, said the amount of funding raised was significant.
"There is no upper limit, but we have been super prudent when it comes to raising capital. For us, it is about solving a problem. For the next phase of our growth, the idea is to look at exactly what farmers need, and we felt this amount of capital is needed. It gives us opportunities to go after acquisitions, which we are going to actively evaluate. It allows to do everything we want. We are an operationally profitable business, and do not see the sense in burning money."
Shardul said they have built one of the largest digital farmer networks and agri-inputs ecommerce platforms “solving for the information asymmetry and lack of access”.
"With this funding we are looking at regular things like investing in our tech. Apart from that, we are looking at scaling our platform in terms of deeper penetration with manufacturers and OEMs, launching exclusive products, and private labels."
AgroStar is also looking at deeper category expansion and wider pan-India penetration.
“While our digital presence is pan-India, our physical presence through touch points and delivery of product is still focused on five states.”
Shardul Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, AgroStar
Founded by Shardul and Sitanshu Sheth, AgroStar is working on one mission: “Helping Farmers Win”. It leverages data and technology to solve farmers’ problems of access to good quality agri-inputs and bridge the knowledge gap owing to traditional farming practices.
Today, the agritech startup serves over five million farmers across the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.
Shardul said the team will aggressively double down on their omnichannel strategy.
"Farmers have been asking us to increase our touch points. Over the last month we have been able to scale up to a 1,000 omnichannel stores. We aim to provide a seamless omnichannel experience through our platform. The farmer should be able to reach out to us through any means and method they find convenient,” he said, adding that AgroStar can scale up to 5,000 stores in the next 18 to 24 months.
The startup will continue to be focused on the input challenge for the farmer, and provide unique market linkages. The idea is to help farmers "find a larger market and better price".
Speaking on the investment, Abhishek Chandra, Managing Director of Evolvence India, said, “We are strong believers in AgroStar’s business model as it addresses the service gap in the agri space by building the largest tech-enabled omnichannel platform that enables farmers to access knowledge and buy quality products across channels. The strength of the founders and knowledge-first approach are clear differentiators. We are excited to partner with AgroStar in their journey ahead.”
Farmers use the AgroStar app to read and watch agronomy content, post pictures of their crop problems to get advice, share and comment on fellow farmer posts, use voice search to look for agri products, and transact on the platform.
Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Enterprise, digitisation and contemporary management practices can unlock tremendous value in farming.
“We are particularly impressed by the team’s execution capabilities, sustainable business model, and the way they are using technology to provide access to information and better quality inputs, thus helping farmers increase yields and incomes. A farmer-first approach, an omnichannel platform, and strong connections with the community are helping AgroStar create socio-economic impact, and we believe they have the potential to dominate the market over this decade,” Sunil said.
Sitanshu Sheth, Co-founder, AgroStar
A report commissioned this year by CDC indicated that 82 percent of the farmers reported that their quality of life got better due to AgroStar and 73 percent said there was no alternative to AgroStar.
Craig Gifford, Head, South Asia Private Equity Funds, CDC Group, said the agriculture sector played a fundamental role in delivering a wide range of growth opportunities for any country, with “farmers at the helm as the key drivers of the industry”.
“We are proud to be making an investment in AgroStar, via a co-investment alongside Aavishkaar Capital, that will support enterprising farmers, bolster India’s agriculture sector, and help accelerate inclusive economic and social impact in the country.”