AgriGator is one of the portfolio companies of 100X.VC that is into the agritech supply chain. Udit Sangwan and Charu Chaturvedi are the founders of AgriGator who were interviewed by Yagnesh from 100X.VC concerning their startup. Let us first see how the journey behind AgriGator started.
Udit Sangwan is a second-generation entrepreneur. His father has been into an agri-supply chain for about 27 years. His first startup was Apnalot.com. After this, he went to Gurgaon to learn and understand the market. In Gurgaon, he joined Rivigo and worked with them for 3 years. He got a lot of experience in operations and supply chain. Then he went to IIM Ahmedabad where he met Charu Chaturvedi. Charu holds technical skills and is working for Infosys. There, she got a chance to work with a few SMV giants.
When Udit Sangwan used to work with Rivigo, he saw this pain point in the market which was worth solving. This gave him the idea to start AgriGator. He met with some farmers over there and tried to understand their pain point. He noticed that the problem is from the secondary side of the supply chain also. So, he talked about it with Charu. Since Udit has a logistic background while Charu had a tech background, they understood the industry from their perspective. They considered the problems that they were facing while developing different platforms and softwares in their fields. They went to some traders in the food processing industry to understand their pain points. They both noticed that the entire supply chain was broken and it needed to be organised.
Most of the time, the pain point is seen from the farmers’ perspective, but in reality, the secondary side is also cracked. So both of them thought to focus on the secondary side and fix the demand before moving to the supply. They decided to make the entire market demand-pulled from production-pulled. They discussed how things could be done, what needs to be done, and what is wrong with the agritech. They found that there were a lot of major gaps in the industry. It was not just the primary trade that was having issues but also the secondary part. There are a lot of startups working on the primary trade, but very few are focused on secondary trade. Moreover, a lot of people are trying to build their supply chain to get away from the unorganised sector and maintain their efficient system. But Uday and Charu had a different opinion from everybody else. They both thought that they had to do something to utilise the existing infrastructure. This marked the beginning of AgriGator.
What are the pain points that AgriTech is solving?
AgriGator was started with a small assumption that there is an information gap in the entire supply chain. They tried to pen down all the problems faced by different stakeholders in the supply chain. They concluded that this could be their MVP. They thought about focusing on only one part of the supply chain, i.e. the secondary side.
They understood that most of the traders are working in social distrust because they work with the same traders for decades. So Uday and Charu thought that this could be an opportunity for them. They decided to build a network where the traders can buy and sell any kind of commodity anywhere in the world. They started their journey from trade. But trade needs a lot of relationships in the market and a huge working capital to challenge the brokers in the market. So they decided to pick a single problem that can create a huge impact. Now they chose logistics because logistics is something on which trade is heavily dependent. This is because if a trader does not have a logistic provider, his negotiations can fail.
What are the challenges that people in agriculture face and what are solutions provided by AgriGator?
They are looking at the on-spot market, which is heavily dependent on the logistics sector. Most of the time, trade deals go off because the logistics are not arranged at the right time. So instead of directly jumping into the trade, they started with logistics because it is a very easy plug point. Moreover, it is a very easily accepted model. So the thought process was very easy for the farmers and the traders to adapt and get the benefits that AgriGator could provide.
A regular broker generally takes around 3 to 4 hours to arrange a logistic. If you have to supply your commodity to different parts of the geography, you might have to get in touch with different logistics. On working with AgriGator, the traders saw a change. They could shift their commodity from one place to another in one click. Moreover, the turnaround time has been brought down to 30 to 35 minutes. They are trying to bring it even more down to 15 minutes as soon as they expand their network.
Apart from this, logistics was already their competency. They had a huge contribution from their family member who was in the industry for about 30 years. Also, Udit had already seen the startup ecosystem. So they felt confident about understanding and working into the market.
How was the experience of AgriGator with 100X.VC?
According to Charu and Uday, the experience has been overwhelming. They had never thought that they would get into the system and become accepted so easily. The process that 100X.VC follows is so efficient and smooth that they did not even feel that they were working with investors. They felt that they were working with someone who understood the industry and wanted them to do something good. The support that they have been receiving from 100X.VC has been too generous.
Moreover, 100X.VC gave them exposure to the endless network outside. Before 100X.VC, they were trying to approach a lot of investors on their basis. But it was very difficult to get a reply from them. But with 100X.VC by their side added credibility to their thought process and idea. Then people started coming to them and were interested to know how things were going to happen. So people form 100X.VC has always been there. They have reached out to them even at odd hours, but they had all their queries and problems answered.
How has COVID-19 impacted the business of AgriGator?
When the COVID-19 created chaos in the market, Udit and Charu did not panic. They kept on moving. They had to evaluate the entire scenario. They could see the lockdown coming, but the uncertainty attached to it was keeping them in a dilemma to keep the employees at home or send them to fields. This is because the business of AgriGator is totally into the field. They have to be there on foot. They were confused about what to do because they did not know what problems it might bring. They saw a dip in their business in the initial days of the lockdown, but they kept calm. They kept utilising the time in building their relationships with the customers. They tried motivating them every day because a lot of people were going back to their homes, especially truck drivers. So when there was a sudden shutdown, they utilised that time in teaching and making people acquainted with this system. They taught people how the new normal is going to be and what all uncertainties they might be seeing. But gradually, in a couple of weeks, things picked up their normal pace.
Words of wisdom for budding founders
If you are doing something, you need to have that passion for it. You need to be very clear about what kind of problem you are trying to solve. You need to be sure about validating your assumptions before jumping to conclusions of any sort. So an analysis of the market research has to be very thorough.
The journey is not so easy. If you are sitting outside the ecosystem, you see fame. But it is never like this. Choosing the right set of problems is very important for a founder. Having the right entrepreneurial mindset is very important because you have to choose a single problem to solve. You cannot solve many problems at the same time. Most of the founders start with a lot of assumptions but fail to validate most of the time. So choosing the right problem and starting with it is very important. Moreover, building a team is very critical. Matching the core competencies of the team members is very significant. These are the points that founders should also keep in mind.
Published on: June 18, 2020