This Startup Boosts Agricultural Trade
Nukul Upadhye along with his four friends founded Bijak in 2019 that has raised $14.3 million so far and is backed by marquee investors
India is an agricultural country. The sector which currently employs 50 per cent of the workforce contributes around 17-18 per cent of the country’s GDP. However, the sector is yet to witness significant technology penetration and needs to empower traders and wholesalers by helping them discover counterparties, get better pricing and access working capital.
Having come from an agricultural background, 32-years-old, Nukul Upadhye has had first person experience in farmers’ day-to-day plight. After meeting thousands of farmers on ground, he realised that farmers were unable to send their produce because of disrupted value chain and market linkages. It was during his stint at Gobasco as a head of strategy, he observed the scope of bridging the ever widening gap in the country’s agri value chain. With this idea in mind, he along with his four friends after quitting their jobs and investing through their own pockets founded Bijak in 2019.
The Gurugram-based startup is a B2B marketplace for the agricultural commodities that enables traders, wholesalers and food processors to discover counterparties, get better pricing, and access working capital. It brings accountability and transparency into the agricultural value chain through a buyer/seller rating system, and enables traders, wholesalers, and food processors to keep a ledger of their transactions, access transparent pricing, and improve their working capital cycles.
Upadhye who is alumni of BITS Pilani and MBA degree holder from University of Virginia Darden School of Business is a first generation founder. Over the years he noted that most of the startups in this space are trying to bypass these traders in the present ecosystem. “When we worked with these traders, we realized that any large scale impact would require participation from them and we would need to leverage their domain expertise instead of competing with them,” he added.
The startup is attempting to bridge the gap between local aggregators and commission agents through technology to facilitate transparent trading and build trust through their rating system.
The startup which is serving over 25 thousand buyers and sellers has till date raised $14.5 million in seed and Series A rounds from various investors. According to Upadhye, pandemic has taught that rural India is eager to adopt technology if it's customized according to their needs. The startup which is yet to achieve break even has witnessed significant growth from operating in 18 states in 2019 to being present in 27 states and union territories in 2020.
In the same year, Bijak grew by 10.7 times in terms of verified and trusted users and their transactions soared by 25 times in 2020 in comparison to 2019 and witnessed 27.4 times growth in transactional value. Currently, the startup is in plans to roll out additional features such as financial services and logistics.
Nukul Upadhye made it to the list of Entrepreneur India’s 35Under35 list of 2021