Accel Partners leads $10 mn Series B round in AgroStar
Pune-based ULink AgriTech Pvt. Ltd, which operates direct-to-farmer mobile-based retail platform AgroStar, has raised $10 million (around Rs 66.6 crore) in its Series B round led by Accel Partners, the company said in a statement.
Existing investors IDG Ventures and Aavishkaar Venture Management also participated in the round. The startup will use the funds to strengthen its data analytics platform and leadership team as well as expand geographically.
The funding comes six months after it bagged a $3.6 million (around Rs 24 crore then) in its second round of funding from IDG Ventures and Aavishkaar.
"There is a scope to implement technology to solve the problems faced by farmers in India. AgroStar has demonstrated that farmers are ready to adapt the latest in technology that can make their lives simpler and improve productivity," said Prashanth Prakash, partner, Accel India.
The startup was founded in 2013 by brothers Shardul and Sitanshu Sheth who were earlier manufactures and distributors of organic fertilisers and plant nutrients. Shardul is an alumnus of Rochester Institute of Technology and earlier worked with BestBuy and PwC. Sitanshu worked with KPMG before starting AgroStar.
"Farmers face significant challenges at every point from buying agri-inputs, to improving yields and finally getting a good price for their produce. We are working on solving some of these challenges through technology to make farming more sustainable and profitable for farmers," said Shardul who is founder and CEO of AgroStar.
AgroStar aims to capitalise on a rapid increase in smartphone penetration along with increasing data consumption in rural India. The firm, which has 150 channel partners, is operational in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. It claims that over one million farmers are using its platform.
The agri-tech space has been buzzing with activity of late. Last month, Delhi-based VDSS Agri Tech Pvt. Ltd, which operates agri-tech startup Paalak.in, raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from a clutch of angel investors.
In January, Mumbai-based RML AgTech Pvt. Ltd, which provides support services to farmers via mobile phones, raised $4 million (Rs 27.2 crore) from existing investor IvyCap Ventures.
In another deal in the sector, Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd (JISL), the country's largest micro-irrigation firm, acquired Australian agri-tech firm Observant Pty. Ltd earlier this month, marking its fourth reported acquisition in the overseas market.
Also, World Bank's arm International Finance Corporation is planning to make a debt investment of $30 million in ETC Agro Processing (India) Pvt. Ltd.