Anu Meena, an IIT graduate, spent her childhood on the farms of Manoli, Rajasthan where her grandfather was a farmer and her family was run by a monthly income of Rs. 8,000. Throughout her childhood, she has witnessed her grandfather struggling to sell vegetables, i.e. finding buyers, arranging transport, getting payments, etc. And thus she is well aware of the challenges farmers across India face and solving these challenges has since been her mission.
With this vision, in 2017 she launched agritech startup Agrowave. This farm-to-market business model helps farmers sell their produce from their farm gates through mobile pickup stations. Farmers can even choose the mandi they want to sell the produce at, the pickup timing, the buyers or traders, and the amount of produce they want to sell, all through an app. Agrowave is currently connected with 5,000 plus farmers across Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra.
After graduating from IIT Delhi in 2016, she started working for a logistics startup, but all she wanted to do was something for the farmers. Hence, at the age of 23, when she didn’t even have enough money to pay her rent, she went on to look for investors for her brainchild.
The first funding of Rs 1.5 lakh helped her hire interns, do some groundwork to prove her model, then B2C, and register the company. The same investor, on Meena’s insistence, funded the startup again, but at high equity. “It has to be my worst memory of the journey so far. I wasn’t getting funds from the market because I had diluted so much equity. It was a tough phase,” she explains. However, with help from her mentors, the problem was resolved. “Although that is the best memory, I think about where we’d have been if I hadn’t lost those two years. But it also taught me to stay patient and read people better.”
In a recent interview, Meena says, “We are a farmer-focused company building a farm-to-market mobility supply chain that enables millions of farmers to sell their product from farm gates.” Her venture is designed to cater to all the difficulties a farmer’s faces while selling his produce. Because of their farm-to-market mobility, farmers now can focus more on their work rather than going to mandi and traveling back and forth in trucks. “Those who sell through our platform have been able to focus on their children, and women farmers can sell from their farm gates,” She reveals.
Initially, it is difficult for the farmers to adopt new technology since most of them are illiterate, but once they understood they were able to carry out transactions on the app. Moreover, Meena and her team also organize meetings in villages where they give the farmers training on their app.
According to sources, “as of the date, the startup has raised three rounds, the latest being a $2 million funding in pre-Series A in January from Aroa Ventures, the family office of Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal.”
Shortly, Meena wants to raise another round of funding to strengthen the reach and logistics and focus on building transportation.
“The agriculture sector is going to be booming globally. And India is undoubtedly one of the topmost agriculture-based economies. But unlike others, India and Africa are places where technology hasn’t taken on a major role. So it is a ripe ground for agritech startups that tackle a major problem of food loss like Agrowave,” says Sekhar Puli, investor and advisor of Agrowave.
- Staff Reporter