Stellapps Technologies, the Indian IoT and data analysis stack for the dairy supply chain, has raised $14 million in Series B funding in a round led by IndusAge Partners alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and two strategic corporate venture investors: Qualcomm Ventures and ABB Technology Ventures, the venture arm of the industrial technology company. Existing investors also joined the round including Omnivore Partners, the Indian agtech-focused VC, and two local tech VCs Blume Ventures and Venture Highway, and Asia-focused venture group BEENEXT.
This is the first equity investment by the Gates Foundation in India, highlighting the importance of modernizing India’s dairy sector, according to Mark Kahn, partner of Omnivore.
“Dairy is India’s largest crop; it’s bigger than rice and bigger than wheat,” he told AgFunderNews. “India is the single largest dairy producer in the world.”
That’s despite the average dairy farmer having just three head of cattle. India has become the largest dairy ecosystem in the world through a hyper-fragmented collection system with aggregated cooling and processing, but that system is in “desperate need of digitization,” according to Kahn.
Currently, some two billion liters of milk flow through Stellapps’ SmartMoo platform annually, according to a press release.
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Stellapps’ full stack digital platform aims to optimize the entire dairy supply chain, including milk production, procurement, and cold chain logistics through the deployment of 26 different types of sensors, automation and machine learning.
On the farms, wearable devices collect animal-specific data from the cows and buffalos. At the dairy collection sites, quality analysis sensors measure fat content to assess the quality of the milk to help with pricing. These records are sent automatically to the dairy company’s headquarters and the farmer’s phone via SMS. Quantifying the quality of milk removes the guesswork and variability from pricing. In the cold chain, sensors monitor the conditions to give dairy collection companies more control over the quality of their product and enable them to produce more transparent information for their end customer.
Through AgRupay, Stellapps has also digitized payments for the industry, and MooKare is its animal insurance product.
The proceeds of this round will go towards expanding Stellapps globally. “The dairy economy in the developing world is a massive opportunity for IoT and digitization,” said Kahn. “Stellapps’ full stack solution seems to be the best way to make digitization in dairy a reality globally.”
Stellapps’ new corporate investors will help towards this end, with global expertise in communications, IoT, industrial digitization and automation as well as deep agriculture networks and experience from the Gates Foundation.
“With its rugged wireless platforms for farmers and consumers in extreme rural environments, Stellapps is pioneering efficient and transparent dairy technology solutions in previously unreached areas. Qualcomm Ventures is excited to work with Stellapps on growing its presence and impact in this new and developing IoT space,” said Varsha Tagare, senior director of Qualcomm Ventures India.
Stellapps was founded in 2011 by five technology industry veterans who believed that IoT could transform rural India. The company was originally incubated at IIT Madras and received seed funding from Omnivore in 2013. In 2017 the company raised a Series A round from Blume Ventures, Venture Highway, Binny Bansal, and 500 Startups.