Indian agri commodities trading platform Bijak has raised $12 million in a Series A round led by RTP Global. Existing investors Omnivore, Omidyar Network, and Better Capital also took part, along with Sequoia Capital India’s early-stage program, Surge.
Co-founder Nukul Upadhye said the funding will be used to grow Bijak’s tech team and roll out new features.
The Gurugram-based startup seeks to bring enhanced accountability and transparency to the agricultural commodity market. In emerging economies like India, such markets have long been best by opaque pricing and practices, with myriad middlemen often involved in the value chain between farmers and end buyers.
Bijak’s trying to fix that, and secure better prices for buyers and sellers along the way. Its online platform is built around a rating system that allows food processing companies, commodity traders, logistics providers, and wholesalers to discover new business partners, and recommend those they consider to be reliable.
Launching in the Delhi region in April last year, Bijak has since expanded its services to cover 500 locations across 22 states. It assists with the trading of 90 commodities over its platform, with $150 million in annualized growth merchandise volume.
The startup said it collaborates with many existing players in India’s agrifood value chain, including agricultural produce market committees (APMCs) – government boards that trade ag commodities with the objective of protecting farmers from exploitation and keeping farm-to-retail price spreads at manageable levels. It also works with institutional buyers such as retailers, as well as other agritech startups.
Galina Chifina, partner at RTP Global, said the firm – an early investor in Delivery Hero and Yandex founded by Russian internet pioneer Leonid Boguslavsky – is backing Bijak becuase of the team’s combination of industry expertise and technology vision.
“This is the first deal we have committed from our new fund and it sets a high bar for our future investee companies,” she said.
Omnivore managing partner Mark Kahn said Bijak “has blown away everyone’s expectations about how fast an agritech startup can grow in India.”
Madhav Tandan, director, investments, at Omidyar Network India said the startup is building “a first-of- its-kind private online marketplace that can help market discovery, earn a fair price, create accountability and trust, and provide services like credit and logistics to a market that is highly underserved.”
“This will eventually lead to greater benefits for the farmer. We’re also very impressed with the team’s deep understanding and experience of using technology to empower first-mile agri-ecosystem participants,” he added.
Bijak raised $2.5 million in seed capital in December 2019. Omnivore, Omidyar Network, Better Capital, and Surge participated in the round. The startup were part of Surge’s second cohort, which launched last October.
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