Journey of Rural Agri entrepreneur from Village to NewYork
Many startup challenges come and go every year but no startup challenge keen to identify the grass root level innovation from rural area. Many are limited to metros. If your startup happens to be in tire-3 or tire-2 towns, then you are out of the game in first stage itself. Being located in village, me and my startup gone through many such unfortunate instances. Off-late I stopped applying for such events.
It was mid-July, I was attending one of the investor pitch in Ahmadabad where I got a chance to hear from Rahul. He was one of the jury and giving short motivation talk to entrepreneurs. After his power packed speech, he stepped out of stage and heading back to his seat. All of a sudden, he remembered something and came back to stage again to make some announcement and it was about “Survive and Thrive”!! He also mentioned that ‘Survive and Thrive’ keen to encourage startup from tire 3 and tire 2 towns. That motivated us to apply for this. After rounds of evaluation process, finally received the mail from India network that we are selected.
If Rahul would have not returned to stage to make announcement, I would have not the part this elite team!
Although, I lost the pitch session held in Ahmadabad, I was selected for ‘Survive and Thrive 2017” . It reminded me the sayings “if one door closes, other door opens’.
During the initial days of preparation, I was kind of uncomfortable as there was no exact agenda of what are the things we would be doing in US specifically for each of our startup apart from attending general mentoring, pitch, etc,. Off late I realized that, Sky is the limit for this. It is all about the ‘possibilities’.
I born and brought up in agriculture family and personally lived the problems faced by farmers. Happen to become scapegoat for un-sustainable agriculture and eventually end up saying ‘good bye’ to farming and moved to metro in search of other jobs( like many others youths). I ended up with job in Bangalore for my bread and batter. However, I always wanted to do something to address some basic problems of farmers. Eventually fire in the belly made me to leave the job and start my own venture to help farmers. In early 2015, I started Jayalaxmi Agrotech with my cousin Anandbabu. I decided to setup my venture in my own village as I didn’t have enough cash to setup in metro. Although I lost many opportunities for NOT being in Bangalore or Mumbai, we had couple of advantages being in rural area. Firstly, I could reduce my burn rate; secondly it is important to be in native habitat to whom we serve for.
About my startup: Information gap is biggest challenge in Agriculture. To address the information gap my startup JAT developed suite of 20+ crop specific mobile applications for Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal husbandry. To address the connectivity gap, they have developed hardware device called “Agri Pole”.
Till date 200,000 farmers on our platform and we are adding one new farmer every second minute. While helping farmers with the crop related information on Smartphone without charging a penny, Being a data driven startup, we are generating wealth of data which has unique array of data driven solutions for different stakeholders in agri value chain.
They are namely “Crop disease prediction platform”, “Hyper local e-commerce platform”, and “Market connect aggregation platform”. To put it simple- we are becoming Ola-uber in agriculture!
To US: July 7th was the D-day for me. I was on cloud 9. I went to Delhi to join other team members, but I got to know that Rahul and some more members flying from Mumbai.
There was quick icebreaking session from the India network team which brought everyone together. We reached New York next day. Excitement nullified the jetlag!!
After meeting other team members, I realized that they are the best in class go-getters carefully hand-picked by India network team for “Survive and Thrive”. It was exiting to hear everyone’s story and about their work. I must tell you that, I had an opportunity to learn from every one of them. It was great experience.
I was keen to meet Rahul. Perhaps sense of gratitude was bothering me to meet him. However, I got an opportunity to stay with him for few days in USA. Very soon I understood the vision of behind this travel. During the conversation, he even mentioned that he would like to have run one more challenge exclusively for village level entrepreneurs. This shows his commitment and true meaning of India Network.
What Survive and Thrive for me:
We reached Kent on 8th . Day started with party mood. Very soon it turns into party of possibilities for startups. I had a chance to interact with many mission driven entrepreneurs from different parts of the world. Knowing about each other’s startup, each others innovation was mind-blowing. I had chance to speak to few of the startup with whom we can explore the collaboration and partnership.
Survive and Thrive is the biggest platform for startup. It is one-stop-shop for networking, partnerships, collaborations and funding.
I had opportunity to meet Jesse itzler, Kevin Harrington (from Shark Tank) and Susie Carder. Jesse itzler while speaking he mentioned about “You need to take it one step at a time rather doing many things at one go”. This line touched me a lot. Kevin Harrington was taking about “How to build the Marketing Funnel in his Personal branding and Digital Marketing”. During the workshop I could relate his approach my business.
I met Marva Allen and explained about my solution. Her words are inspiring. She also mentioned that this solution also helps in building Food security of the nation along with unique business opportunity. She immediately makes few calls and connected me to some leads from African counties.
Mango Boy Sachin who built Agri entrepreneur in US helped in connecting me to some investors. He showed interest in extending all possible support to connect the farmers to International Market through our platform. I also got some leads to expand the business to Egypt.
During the trip, I got a chance to spend time with each of the team member and understand their solutions. Few stuck my chord.
Aeroshil from Manipur who working in Healthcare segment extended his support to expend our business to Manipur through his connect in Manipur.
I become the fan of Ihitashri Shandilya and Deep Bajaj for their inspiration and valuable feedback.