PNN/ Faridabad: AgroStar has announced that it has raised $70 million in its Series D funding round from 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.
Founded by Sitanshu Sheth and Shardul Sheth, AgroStar is working on a mission of “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. AgroStar today is India’s largest digital farmer network and agri inputs platform serving over five million farmers across the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.
The $50 bn agri-input market is challenged with a lack of knowledge and access to quality products resulting in low crop productivity. AgroStar is addressing this gap and has built a multilingual content-led commerce platform for farmers. AgroStar is seeing rapid growth of its platform with its mobile App crossing the 5 million download milestone. 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. “The platform has seen a 10X growth in video content consumption over the last year. Our platform is easy to use for the Indian farmer and adds real value on ground for them. We believe that this is just the beginning and foresee massive acceleration in digital adoption by 140 million plus Indian farmers over the next few years.” said Co-founder and COO, Sitanshu Sheth.
AgroStar has also expanded its brand from being a content-driven, advisory and agri-inputs eCommerce platform to being an omnichannel platform with the rollout of AgroStar branded stores. These stores located at block levels across multiple states leverage AgroStar’s brand pull and the content and information-led approach to serve its farmers with additional touchpoints. AgroStar has ramped up its brand stores from 50 to over 1,000 stores in the last twelve months.
AgroStar is also creating a deep impact by adding substantial value to farmers in terms of reduction in input cost and increase in yield. A report commissioned this year by CDC indicates that 82% of the farmers reported that their quality of life got better due to AgroStar and 73% reported there is no alternative to AgroStar.
Commenting on the recent round of funding, Shardul Sheth, Co-Founder, and CEO, said, “AgroStar has remained true to its mission of HelpingFarmersWin from its inception. We are now doubling down on our omnichannel strategy to provide a seamless experience to our farmers across various touchpoints both digital and physical. We plan to utilize the funding to strengthen our tech platform, hire senior talent, expand into new categories, geographies and scale to over 5,000 AgroStar branded retail stores to fuel our omnichannel strategy. We will also expand our services to provide meaningful market linkage value additions for our large and growing farmer base and we will look at acquisition opportunities in this area.”
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.”
Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Enterprise said, “We at Hero Enterprise, believe that in addition to small industry, agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy with the largest part of the population engaged in this activity. Digitization and contemporary management practices can unlock tremendous value in farming. We are excited to be a part of the AgroStar journey and have been following this company for more than three years. 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 farmer community are helping Agrostar create a socio-economic impact, and we believe they have the potential to dominate the market over this decade.”
Craig Gifford, Head South Asia Private Equity Funds, at CDC Group, commented: “The agriculture sector plays 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.”