Two Jharkhand-born entrepreneurs are building a Global Agritech Giant

Indian SaaS-based agritech startup CropIn uses data, analytics, and AI to digitise tens of millions of acres of farmland in 52 countries. Its target market is, ‘the world’ and it’s 580 million farmers who feed 9.7 billion people.

In a dynamic startup culture which India holds, the late-2000s and early 2010s were about the rise of consumer internet and poster boys in e-commerce, food tech, and mobility in India, and the mid-to-late 2010s, especially post-demonetisation, about fintech explosion, then what awaits us this decade could be the rise of tech-enabled agriculture according to two Jharkhand-born co-founders of Bengaluru-based CropIn, one of India’s oldest agritech (or agtech) startup which was founded in 2010 by first-time entrepreneurs Krishna Kumar, Kunal Prasad, and Chittaranjan Jena (left the company in 2019), nobody in India or even in the developed world was backing agriculture with technology. Moreover, quitting jobs in MNCs to get into the agriculture sector was extremely unconventional. But the CropIn founders went ahead to do precisely that, soon building a robust SaaS-based farm management platform that has now scaled to 52 countries and counting.

CropIn’s goal is to maximise the per-acre value of farmland by blending pixel-level satellite images, weather data, predictive analytics, and AI. CropIn’s other product Acresquare is an app for agri-enterprises to connect to farmers, educate them, and share agriculture-related content. Ten years since its inception, CropIn has digitised 13 million acres of farmland across six continents and touched over 4 million farmer lives and has worked on 3,500 crop varieties across climatic zones and predicted crop yields with over 90 per cent accuracy. Almost 60 per cent of its annual revenue comes from international markets. It has engaged with 220+ large Agri enterprises, including Agri input companies, commodity traders, seed production companies, agribusinesses, crop insurance providers, farm financiers, government advisories, and international development funds.

In 2020, CropIn grew by 3X despite the COVID-19 pandemic and is on course to hit $100 million ARR in the next five years. In January, it raised a Series C round of $20 million led by PE fund ABC World Asia. Existing investors Chiratae Ventures, Invested Development, and Ankur Capital also participated in the round. Other new investors included CDC Group and Kris Gopalakrishnan’s family office Pratithi Investment Trust. The startup will utilise the fresh capital to further expand globally while continuing to scale up its machine-learning-based predictive analytics platform, which has processed over 160 million hectares of land area and has the potential to impact 70 million farmers globally in three to five years.

Krishna explains, “Billions of dollars have been poured into consumer internet and fintech over the years. But the next decade belongs to agtech because you need food, and if you have to feed 9.7 billion people across the world by 2050, farm efficiency must increase by 35 per cent to 75 per cent.” And, this can only be achieved if decades-old, orthodox and ill-efficient farming practices are replaced with new-age technology and data science. Krishna further states, “We wanted to solve complex problems with tech and build a company that could create a large impact. We looked at various sectors and chose agriculture because nobody was building technology for it even though farmers were taking their lives or throwing away their crops,” 

Today, CropIn, like many other agritech startups such as Fasal, AgNext, Intello Labs, Tartan Sense, Aigroedge, FarmERP, SenseGrass, and Plantix, among others, is at the centre-stage of this sunrise sector, which is poised to be worth $22 billion by 2025 and see the birth of India’s first agtech unicorn.

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