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CropIn co-founders Krishna Kumar (L) and Kunal Prasad (R). Image credit: CropIn

Ag data player CropIn banks $20m from Temasek-linked impact fund, others

January 8, 2021

Indian ag data startup CropIn has raised $20 million in a Series C round led by ABC World Asia, an impact-focused private equity fund affiliated with Singapore sovereign investor Temasek.

Other new investors included the UK’s CDC Group and Pratithi Investment Trust, the family office of Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan. Existing investors Ankur Capital, Chiratae Ventures, and Invested Development also participated in the round.

CropIn offers a variety of AI-driven data and software solutions to the agricultural industry, covering what it calls the “ground-to-cloud” part of the agrifood value chain.

The Bengaluru-based startup largely works on a B2B basis, catering to agribusinesses that serve individual growers and farmers and providing its customized solutions to these end users via reseller partnerships in close to 20 countries. This has allowed it to “effectively digitialize over 13 million acres of farmland within a short span of time,” co-founder and CEO Krishna Kumar told AFN.

CropIn has also partnered with governments and development finance institutions in 52 countries to assist with their agricultural projects.

Explaining the company’s differing revenue models, Kumar said that each sector and enterprise “needs to be looked at with a unique penetration strategy.”

“For development agencies, the government sector, and [corporate social responsibility projects], the model is collaborative. With farming enterprises, it could be on an acreage- or license-based costing,” he said.

“Our revenue streams are enhanced by focused marketing demos. CropIn [customer relationship and sales] teams understand the scope of the project and provide an apt licensing model for the client to ensure maximum profitability to them.”

CropIn’s products include SmartFarm, an agronomy and field data platform aimed at growers and agribusinesses and growers. The startup claims that SmartFarm is able to improve productivity, ensure supply chain traceability, and help farmers transition to more sustainable practices using its data-derived insights.

Another core offering is SmartRisk, which allows banks, insurers, and other financial service providers to make better-informed risk assessments when lending to farmers and other ag-related businesses. According to CropIn, SmartRisk analyzes “trillions of datapoints” for almost 400 crop varieties “to achieve high prediction accuracy at a plot level” using deep-learning algorithms, computer vision tech, and multispectral imaging from drones and satellites.

With these two products, CropIn claims to have “positively impacted” 4 million farmers, with users reporting crop yield improvements of up to 25% in the first year following their implementation of the startup’s technologies.

‘Immense market potential’

Kumar told AFN that the Series C funds will be used to expand CropIn’s global presence. The startup recently opened an Amsterdam office, and will be hiring locally to drive growth in the European market.

“We have chosen Europe because there is immense market potential in the agtech domain. Most of the companies from our target segments are based in the region,” Kumar explained.

“The Netherlands is the central hub for ag companies, banks, and financial institutions that want to drive digital, sustainability, and financial inclusion goals. Agriculture in Africa is also supported by these organizations headquartered in Europe.”

Some of the capital will be utilized to strengthen the SmartRisk platform and build further AI and data science capabilities, he added.

According to Kumar, CropIn didn’t face fundraising difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic, though he admitted the process “took a little longer” than one might normally expect.

The pandemic also restricted the CropIn team’s ability to do site visits and provide training to end users, leading it to develop a virtual training scheme instead.

However, the biggest impact the pandemic has had on the startup’s business is that people “are more concerned about how safe their food is,” Kumar said.

“They want to know where their food comes from and the entire process until the food reaches their plate. This has increased the demand for solutions that enable traceability and sustainability in the entire value chain.”

Adoption of CropIn’s solutions grew significantly in H1 2020 during the early onset of the pandemic, with the biggest increases in users coming from Europe and the Americas.

That growth — while obviously welcome — has come with its own set of challenges for Kumar and his team.

“As we expanded our global presence, we had to localize our product offering by making it available in 29 languages,” he said.

“We also realized, for multinational companies, data management from different sources is very important and handling multiple solutions is not an easy task. We are now making our solutions capable of integrating data from different sources like IoT, drones, and so on, on a single platform.”

Got a news tip or a story idea? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter at @jacknwellis

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