Ashish Mishra, CEO of TheKrishi, comes from a small town in India called Shikohabad near Agra, in Uttar Pradesh. He considers himself blessed to have got the best technical education at IIT Kharagpur. With nine years of experience in diverse Indian startups in technology and growth roles, he is now on a mission to drive technology adoption by Indian farmers. Before TheKrishi, he was the head of product and marketing functions for a healthcare startup, chasing growth and better unit economics. After traveling the length and breadth of India and experiencing first-hand the plight of Indian farmers, he believes that growing internet penetration can be effectively leveraged to drive awareness and put farmers’ income on a much faster growth trajectory. His startup TheKrishi brings multiple stakeholders of the Indian agri-ecosystem together on a platform. Here he tells us more about the business.
What are the biggest challenges for India’s farmers?
- Lack of awareness about modern farming techniques and opportunity
- Slow adoption rate of technology and govt. schemes
- Small landholdings resulting in lower mechanization
- Lack of irrigation systems leading to low cropping intensity
What are some of the biggest changes taking place in Indian agriculture today?
- Farmers are getting connected to the internet from smartphone devices
- Current government has shifted the narrative from food sufficiency and higher yields to increased farmer income
- Availability of farming labour is going down, which is pushing usage of agro-chemicals and machinery
- Farmers’ average age is decreasing as the next generation is taking on the family trade
What is your technology and what is it trying to solve?
We are a social learning platform, empowering farmers with reliable information and utility tools which help them increase their income. Some of these tools are weather forecasts, crop disease detection, a government subsidy explorer, and price discovery from nearby markets (coming in the next release).
We are bridging the information gap by bringing farmers and other stakeholders on to a platform.
When did you launch and what growth stage are you at currently as a company?
We committed to this venture full time in July 2018. We have done basic validation of our idea, now is the time to build further for growth. We first started working on this in October 2017 and launched our app on 31st Dec 2017
What is your product?
An android app, TheKrishi.
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What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
Coming from product and growth background, we tried a lot of growth experiments (including app store optimization) to drive initial growth without spending marketing dollars.
What’s been the most surprising aspect of your startup journey so far?
It is generally hard for people to imagine that Indian farmers may be using sophisticated technological tools on internet for farming. Still, we keep getting pleasantly surprised by overwhelming user response to our features [~1,300 reviews on Google Play]. We have got a significant chunk of highly tech-savvy power users [100,000+ downloads].
Do you have any mentors that have assisted you along the way?
Yes. Mr. Bharat Bhushan Tyagi, who has been instrumental in creating awareness about organic farming and mixed farming in India. He has trained more than 60,000 farmers for free at his farm.
Are there any other startups that you looked to for guidance or as a model when you were getting started/as you scale up?
What’s your fundraising experience been like? Who are your investors?
We have not raised any funding yet and have bootstrapped until now.
Any advice for other startups out there?
Believing is the start of happening.
Have you interacted with any agrifood corporates?
Yes, but we cannot disclose this as of now.