Bengaluru-based Chifu Agritech, which operates agritech startup Vegrow, has raised $2.5 million in a seed funding round from venture capital firm Matrix Partners India and impact investor Ankur Capital.
The round also saw participation from early stage investment firms Better Capital and Titan Capital, as well as angel investors, including Sanjiv Rangrass, CEO of the agri business division at ITC; Rohit MA, co-founder of Cloudnine Hospitals; Ramakant Sharma, founder of Livspace; and Amit Lakhotia, founder of Park+, the company said in a statement.
Vegrow was founded this year by IIT alumni Praneeth Kumar, Shobhit Jain, Mrudhukar Batchu and Kiran Naik. Both Kumar and Jain started their professional career at the agri business division of ITC, where they worked on initiatives ranging from streamlining the agri-inputs supply chain for farmers to developing new export markets for their products. Kumar then joined Agrostar, where he led strategic initiatives for the company. Batchu, on the other hand, was the product director at Washington-based software company Chronus, while Naik has spent over a year living in farms and solving farmer problems.
“We are partnering with farmers and building value chains for identified commodities. We are investing in farm technology and supply chain technology to help us realise a higher value for our farmers -- all of this is rallied around a single point agenda, which is to build and serve India’s largest farmer community,” Jain said.
The technology platform partners with farmers, aggregates supply and sells to organised demand through partnerships. The company says it increases net earnings of partner farmers by leveraging technology across different stages of the farming cycle -- it helps farmers with crop planning, provides access to quality inputs, monitors their adherence to best practices and sells harvest to the right set of buyers.
Vegrow is among several other agritech startups that have caught investor interest lately.
Last month, Jai Kisan raised $3.9 million in a bridge funding round, dubbed a pre-series A round, led by early stage venture capital firm Arkam Ventures.
Around the same time, New Delhi-based Concinnity Agro2o raised an undisclosed sum in a bridge funding round, dubbed a pre-seed round, from Mumbai Angels Network, while Chennai headquartered WayCool Foods and Products, which runs a B2B omnichannel fresh produce distributor platform WayCool, also raised $5.5 million in debt financing from IndusInd Bank.
“We have spent a lot of time in the agritech sector and most solutions do not get to the heart of the challenge -- managing demand led production across fragmented farms. The team's depth of understanding the market, coupled with their approach to use technology to drive the scale is what we feel sets them apart,” Ritu Verma, co-founder and managing partner of investor Ankur Capital, said.
Ankur Capital is an early stage fund that invests in startups building transformative technology solutions. It has backed companies such as agritech startup CropIn, and healthtech startups Niramai and Healthsutra. In January, the firm marked the first close of its second India-focused fund at Rs 240 crore ($34 million at the time).
The other investor, San Francisco-based Matrix Partners India, has about $1 billion under management and has invested in companies such as Ola, Vogo, DailyNinja, Quikr, Treebo, Vogo and Practo.