“Monsoons seem to be on track at Mangrul Pargaon in Junnar and a smiling Kishore Patil replies to an SMS from his trusted Farmguru group representative Swati, who promptly calls him back. While they discuss the good monsoon, Kishore places his fortnightly order of seed, crop-protection and other consumables. Swati conveys the total amount, which he promises to remit. The items reach Kishore in 3-4 days’ time at his door-step, in a well-packaged box and an energetic Amit hands over the carton along with the pre-printed Invoice.
This is the changed story of thousands of farmers in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and other states thanks to Farmguru.
When Vikram started toying with the idea of doing something meaningful, profitable and scalable in the Agri space, he drove out to the lush green farms of Satara and Narayangaon and had long chats with farmers and nurseries in the area to understand their way of doing business and the incessant challenges they faced in their quest to quench the insatiable appetite of this nation of a billion people. What he realised was that due to the succession laws of this country, many farmers have become marginalized. He also identified that the business equation for the farmer was completely broken – they were today procuring farming inputs at Retail prices and selling his produce at Wholesale prices - just the opposite of what it should be.
This was a great opportunity to make a difference - and that gave birth to Farmguru. What farmers wanted was authentic good quality products at consistent prices and available when they want them. In order to achieve this, they sometimes formed Groups but it was difficult to get what they wanted. That is where the idea of Group Buying came from.
Farmguru is India’s No 1 Online Agri Group with over 50,000 member farmers and touches the lives of over over 1 lakh people connected with agriculture directly or indirectly. It provides farmers with convenient means through Mobile phones to register themselves and other farmers from their neighbouring areas completely free of charge. Each member, however small or big then has access to the Campaigns run by Farmguru focusing on a specific crop. This gives them significant cost-savings, sometimes as large as 30% off the MRP.
E-commerce has brought a new paradigm in the way products are bought by Urban customers but it is yet to make an impact in the Rural markets. Farmguru is revolutionising the way Rural commerce works - where farmers can buy curated, genuine, top quality products at great prices any time and every time. It happens over a phone call or at the touch of a button through a fully functional e-store, a missed-call service together with inbound and outbound call-centre support and an on-ground market development team. After piloting operations in specific districts within Maharashtra, Farmguru has expanded to the whole of Maharashtra and currently delivers orders every day across the length and breadth of the state and to other parts of the country.
Vikram is a serial entrepreneur and understands Technology enabled large scale rural and semi-urban distribution channels. In his last avatar he had built one of India’s leading mobile payment companies with a distribution might of over one lakh stores. Priyanka is a Psychology Grad with rich experience in setting up and managing operations. Vishal is a techpreneur and is a practised hand at architecting scalable solutions for large businesses. Arijit is a sales and marketing professional with extensive expertise in both direct and distributed models. Ramprasad is a seasoned retail banking and CRM professional with expertise in leveraging technology and analytics for large-scale portfolio management. He is an entrepreneur himself having exited a successful venture in analytics. With Farmguru, their flagship brand, this diverse group of seasoned professionals aims to democratise the buying process for farmers by making top quality agro inputs from renowned manufacturers easily accessible on demand and at great prices. This young and efficient team currently consists of 28 people.
Farmguru has been bootstrapped until lately when they raised about a quarter of a million dollars from F&F. Having tested the model, put certain building-blocks in place and tasted success, they are currently in discussions with a bunch of investors for raising an external round of funding.
This funding would be utilised in building technology and physical infrastructure, people strength in line with its strategy of growing the footprint pan-India and for widening the basket of products and services made available to the farmer. They have a fully functional eStore (www.store.farmguru.in) where even orders of value in excess of Rs 1 lakh are placed regularly by farmers from across the country. They are on the verge of launching their proprietary storefront which will work efficiently even in remote locations with poor or intermittent connectivity. They are also working on an Android app which will make the buying experience even more democratic and seamless for the farmers. With the rapid proliferation of smartphones and ever-increasing penetration of mobile internet, they are poised to reach the remotest villages across the length and breadth of the country.