Ecozen, which makes solar-powered cold storage and irrigation products for farmers, announced today that the company had raised a $1m Series A from Omnivore Partners. The company will use the funds to expand production capacity and expand its market research. Mumbai-based Omnivore Partners, which invests in early stage food and agriculture technology startups, has taken a minority stake and seat on the board.
Based in Pune and Raipur, Ecozen Solutions was founded in 2009. The company initially focused on solar powered irrigation solutions since the lack of grid power in rural parts of India made irrigation very difficult. To date, the company has installed over 125 pumps in rural India.
Ecozen also developed solar-powered, micro cold storage units, which are sold or rented to farmers. It’s a solution for the last-mile for India’s cold chain. Farmers can store their fresh produce in these units, instead of being forced to sell them immediately after the harvest, often at very low prices.
“Our storage solution has already been deployed in Karnataka through the University of Agriculture Sciences, Raichur. We are reaching out to more areas in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh,” said Devendra Gupta, co-founder of Ecozen.
Since 2012, Villgro, a social enterprise incubator in India, has supported Ecozen, providing seed funding and access to its accelerator program. In 2012, Ecozen won The Economic Times – Power of Ideas Award and the Dow Sustainability Innovation Challenge at the California Institute of Technology.
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Omnivore Partners said it had watched Ecozen’s progress over the past three years, and decided to take a substantial minority stake in Ecozen. Omnivore also purchased the Villgro Innovations Foundation’s equity stake in Ecozen.
“[We] are delighted to be the sole investor in their Series-A funding round. Omnivore believes that Ecozen has the solution to provide last mile cold chain to India’s farmers and radically reduce losses of fresh produce. This is one AgTech startup that should be on everyone’s radar”, said Jinesh Shah, Founding Partner, Omnivore.
Ominvore launched its $45m fund in August 2010, and it looks like Ecozen is Omnivore’s tenth investment to date. Prior investments we’ve covered include weather forecaster Skymet and fruit machinery startup Mitra.
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