What Prompted Walmart to Commit Investment in This Indian Agritech Startup

Indian agritech startup, Ninjacart receives the commitment of $50 million investment by retail behemoth, Walmart

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With technology making a presence in every aspect of human life, food could not have escaped its disruptive impact. India being an agrarian economy has witnessed the tampered connect between farmers and retailers due to the middlemen and wholesalers for years. The penetration of data has, however, changed the set equations by establishing a direct link between these two important entities.

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Aiming to solve one of the toughest agricultural supply chain problems in India and beyond with its innovative technology is Bengaluru-based B2B agritech startup Ninjacart. The organization is changing the way India consumes food by enabling retailers and merchants to source fresh produce directly from the farmers at competitive prices.

Touted as India’s leading agritech platform, Ninjacart has secured an investment commitment of $50 million from US retailing behemoth Walmart. The fresh produce supply chain company will likely receive around $10 million in the first tranche of the funding within a month and give a seat on the Board of Directors to Walmart as part of the deal.

After taking over the reins of Flipkart, this investment would give Walmart an opportunity to enter the highly unorganized yet immensely potential fresh fruits and vegetable market of India. Ninjacart had raised $90 million in April this year from Tiger Global. Last year, the startup had secured INR 250 crore in series B round of funding led by Accel Partners US and Switzerland-based Syngenta Ventures.

Beyond Boundaries

Ninjacart is currently operational in 3 cities – Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. With the new funding, the startup is planning to expand to new geographies, strengthen the product and technology team and invest in bettering the supply chain infrastructure. The organization aims to open 200+ processing centres, both collection/fulfilment and distribution centres, across India.

Talking to Entrepreneur India, the CEO & Co-founder of Ninjacart, Thirukumaran Nagarajan had said in December, 2018, “By March 2019, we plan to launch operations in Mumbai and Delhi and expand further to a total of 10+ cities by the end of next year.” The firm is further planning to scale their hiring by employing passionate individuals to further their goal.

The startup is solving a hard real-world problem via technological intervention and is looking to ensure quality food for all consumers. “We will continue to innovate on behalf of our farmers and customers, ramp up our supply chain infrastructural capacity, grow the farmer/retailer network and scale our customer base,” added Nagarajan.

Global Investors

The venture which started with the mission to alleviate India’s agricultural supply chain problems has developed a solution that not only provides improved market access to Indian farmers and competitive prices to retailers but also offers high-quality products and best practices across the farm to fork supply chain within three years of operation, Nagarajan claimed. Notably, Ninjacart’s consistency and persistence to achieve their goal has attracted the global investors.

“We have been very impressed by Ninjacart’s success in developing a solution that provides improved market access to Indian farmers while at the same time delivering high-quality practices across the farm to fork supply chain. We look forward to supporting Ninjacart on this journey, ultimately delivering benefits to numerous farmers and consumers throughout the country,” stated Shubhang Shankar from Syngenta Ventures.

Expressing his excitement over getting global investors on board, Nagarajan had said, “We are thrilled to have a new set of global investors who can amplify our vision. Our focus will be on expanding to new markets and continue to innovate on behalf of our farmers and customers - and this will come from continued investments in talent, technology and supply chain infrastructure”

Nagarajan believes that these prominent venture capitalist firms’ years of expertise in training companies will help them meet their goal. Hailing Ninjacart’s steady performance over the years, Subrata Mitra, Partner at Accel India said, “The team has managed to get into a clear leadership position in that ecosystem, especially around South Indian cities.”

Leveraging New Technologies

Ninjacart leverages its innovative technology to solve one of the toughest agricultural supply chain problems and enable retailers and merchants to source fresh produce directly from the farmers at competitive prices. “Our supply chain ERP is completely built in-house, right from purchase to sales, helping us maximally optimise logistics and speed of supply chain at reduced costs,” Nagarajan said.

“The warehouse process is automated end to end, with no wastage of paper and one-touch handling of vegetables for better hygiene and quality. By using data science, we also forecast patterns, understand consumer behaviour and the consumption patterns, enabling us to reduce food wastage. All retailers associated with Ninjacart have the ability to order for products directly through a mobile application as well,” he added.

History

Founded by Thirukumaran Nagarajan, Kartheeswaran K K, Vasudevan Chinnathambi, Ashutosh Vikram and Sharath Loganathan in 2015, Ninjacart aims to increase the farmers’ incomes, reduce food wastage, introduce competitive prices for retailers and ensure quality food for all consumers. With a major network of 3000+ farmers across south India to source fresh produce from the farm, the firm supplies to 4000+ retailers on a daily basis.

Ninjacart has been identified among the top 11 Indian startups to enable $50 billion online commerce by Google, Bain and Omidiyar. With the fresh funding round, Ninjacart has raised a total of INR 310 crore so far. It had earlier raised INR 35 crore in Series A round from Accel, NRJN Trust, among others in July and INR 7 crore in a venture debt funding round from Trifecta Capital in March this year.

The Indian agriculture sector has been flourishing over the past years as over 500-600 agritech startups are working towards the common goal of boosting innovation in the space. Apart from Ninjacart, other notable startups in the Indian agritech space include Gold Farm, Taaza, AgroStar, WayCool, Utkal Tubers, EM3 Agri Services and Gobasco.

The article was last updated as of the update on August 2, 2019.

Aastha Singal

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

A business journalist looking to find happiness in the world of startups, investments, MSMEs and more. Officially started her career as a news reporter for News World India, Aastha had short stints with NDTV and NewsX. A true optimist seeking to make a difference, she is a comic junkie who'd rather watch a typical Bollywood masala than a Hollywood blockbuster.