Vivek runs an agritech start-up out of Bangalore. Set up in 2014, the start-up is a fresh food aggregator that seeks to combine precision agriculture, predictive analytics and a seed to plate platform that allows fresh foods to be sold quickly and directly with minimal wastage. In 2020, Vivek raised funds from venture capital firms including a Japanese investor. He has a clear thesis for the US$ 250 billion (bn) fresh food market in India and how it needs to be transformed. His start-up represents one of several agritech firms seeking to innovate and disrupt the oldest industry in India - farming.
It was not all smooth sailing for Vivek. In 2011, Vivek graduated from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the prestigious Indian engineering college. Like so many of his friends, he had an offer from a reputable FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) company. However, his heart lay in agriculture since Vivek’s grandfather was a successful farmer having grown from a small landholding to several hectares of farms in Kerala. As with so many farmer families, his parents moved away from farming to become professionals and the link with farming was lost. But Vivek was determined to give farming a try and with a small contribution from his parents, he decided to run his agri-business on some of his ancestral farm land. Quickly, he realised that farming is not an easy business in India. He struggled with getting seeds, had issues with pesticides, hardly had access to markets, if he grew something he found it hard to store the produce and these were just some of these problems. Within a year he was forced back to his FMCG career, but the agri-bug kept on pushing him to try things again. After multiple attempts and failures, he finally came up with a model that finally started clicking for him. He focused on horticulture - it was unregulated by the State agricultural produce marketing laws, offered higher margins and was increasing in demand as urban Indians moved to a more health-conscious life style. He understood the importance of data and analytics to connect supply and consumption and built a platform that allowed farmers with small landholding to sell their fresh produce to consumers. His start-up represents a new wave of start-ups that are tackling the problems that have plagued agriculture with new and innovative solutions.