Aquaconnect has raised a $1.1 million seed round, backed by sustainable aquaculture accelerator HATCH and Indian VC firm Omnivore, who AFN can reveal. Aquaconnect is an AI-enabled platform that integrates a network for aquaculture farmers with predictive SaaS tools for fish farm management. The startup links its farmer network to an omnichannel marketplace, allowing them to make transactions with certification bodies, banks, and insurance companies. It also helps them reach out to other parts of the export ecosystem, such as feed producers, labs, equipment manufacturers, hatcheries, processors, and exporters.
Prior to this seed round, the startup received angel funding from HATCH, after participating in the accelerator’s inaugural cohort in Bergen, Norway. This marks Omnivore’s second investment in an aquaculture startup, following Eruvaka in 2013.
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Snapshot: About Aquaconnect and its $1.1m seed round
With the fresh infusion of capital, Aquaconnect is setting its sights on ‘rapidly’ expanding its network for shrimp farmers across South and Southeast Asia. It already has 3,000 farmers under its belt in India and Indonesia. Founded in 2017, the Chennai-based startup focuses on India’s $7.1 billion aquaculture sector.
“The funding will be used for team expansion, enhancing our AI-enabled platform offering, and increasing our omnichannel marketplace fulfillment capabilities. We aim to reach 15,000 shrimp and fish farmers across India and Indonesia by December 2020. Omnivore and HATCH understand aquaculture, so they are perfect investors for our first institutional funding Round,” said Raj Somasundaram, Co-Founder & CEO of Aquaconnect.
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“Shrimp farmers in India are keen to adopt tech to capture more value from their harvest, which is where Aquaconnect comes in. We believe that Raj and his team have the potential to build a massive global network and marketplace across all aspects of aquaculture. We expect them to operate across Asia in the near future,” says Mark Kahn, managing partner at Omnivore, speaking exclusively to AFN.
Deep tech renovation
On top of expanding its farmer network, Aquaconnect will also be rolling out deep tech improvements to its mobile app FarmMOJO, launch new SaaS tools for the aquaculture ecosystem, and ‘expand monetization across its omnichannel marketplace’, according to the release. FarmMOJO uses AI and predictive analytics to help shrimp farmers increase farm revenues, minimize costs, and reduce risks through better disease management.
“Having closely worked with Raj and his team now for more than a year, we are absolutely confident that they can deliver on the sharp growth trajectory that we are sending them on with this capital injection,” said Carsten Krome, Managing Partner of HATCH.
Snapshot: India’s Aquaculture Sector
Source: India Commerce Ministry
India’s quickly becoming one of the world’s main exporter for seafood. Its $7.1 billion aquaculture sector recently saw its fastest growth in fish production in more than two decades. And its government recognizes the growing need for greater investment in building infrastructure and as innovation in the sector. Agra plans to invest $3.52 billion in the next five years to promote fisheries.
India has lofty expectations for the sector. After its injection of funds, it expects exports of fish and related products to increase by 122% to $14 billion by 2024. The country’s already dominating the shrimp space, having come up tops as the top global exporter of the crustacean, capturing a quarter of the $45 billion industry. India produces almost 700,000 tons of it annually, and that’s what startups like Aquaconnect want to hone in on.
“Omnivore is thrilled to partner with Aquaconnect as they catalyze the Blue Revolution 2.0 in India and across Asia. We believe that aquaculture is one of the brightest and most promising segments of the Indian agricultural economy,” adds Kahn. “We believe Raj and his team are building one of the most promising agritech startups globally, and we look forward to the exciting journey ahead.” Reihem Roy, who runs the VC firm’s Chennai office, will be joining Aquaconnect’s board to support the company’s growth strategy.
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