Agritech Funding: Agritech startups are making teams, reshaping business models in winter funding

Agritech startups have joined the rising record of firms downsizing their groups amid enterprise mannequin challenges and common stress in funding for privately owned expertise firms, business executives and buyers to ET.

Whereas Temasek-backed DeHaat farming market laid off about 5% of its employees final yr, different enterprise capital-backed firms like Bijak, Captain Contemporary, BharatAgri and Gramophone have just lately laid off employees, sources inform ET.

The Indore-based founding father of Gramophone sacked round 75 staff throughout November and December final yr to give attention to reaching profitability over the subsequent few monetary quarters, co-founder and CEO Tauseef Khan instructed ET.

The corporate was earlier within the submit enlargement mode Raised $10 million in October 2021 From buyers like Z3Partners and Information Edge. It presently has about 450 staff.

Captain Contemporary, the meat retail platform powered by Tiger World, has been making an attempt to maneuver its enterprise from home to worldwide markets since April final yr.

This train resulted in 120 staff dropping their jobs, founder and CEO Utham Gowda instructed ET. Firm analysis greater than doubled to $500 million in March 2022, having raised $50 million.

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BharatAgri, which gives AI-based companies to farmers on a paid subscription foundation, laid off 40 staff in August. The Bengaluru-based firm, which now has 52 staff, attributed the layoffs to a change in the way in which it sells services and products.Additionally learn: Layoffs unfold from ETtech Morning Dispatch to Dunzo, ShareChat, Insurgent Meals and agritech

Whereas DeHaat mentioned the variety of staff let go final yr was lower than 100 and that all the layoffs had been based mostly on efficiency and cultural match, Bijak who additionally minimize jobs didn’t reply to ET’s request for remark.

Agritech startups that cut jobsETtech

The beforehand unreported layoffs got here after a two-year interval of sturdy financing exercise. About 63% of the overall funding capital invested in agritech has been deployed in India to this point prior to now two years, in line with a report by funding banking agency Avendus Capital in December.

Whereas 2021 noticed $1.22 billion invested in 45 agritech startups, round $796 million entered 30 agritech startups in 2022.

Why these layoffs?

After invested capital faltered, agritech startups elevated hiring exercise, however now these firms are streamlining their operations.

At BharatAgri, for instance, the corporate had a mannequin the place there was a gross sales staff that was speaking on to customers to promote subscriptions and merchandise. “Over time, our product has advanced in such a approach that customers should buy companies and merchandise with no telephone name,” founder and CEO Siddharth Dayalani instructed ET, explaining the layoffs.

Based mostly in Bengaluru The final time the corporate raised cash was in September 2021 – $6.5 million In a spherical led by Omnivore, with participation from India Quotient and 021 Capital, each of which already personal a stake.

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“We see the present setting as a boon for the agritech sector as it’s going to clear up plenty of the chaos within the area and with out large progress pressures plenty of firms will come out stronger with higher unit economics,” mentioned Khan of Gramophone.

He added, “Most firms have already taken the correct steps over the previous two quarters and we count on the outcomes to start out showing this yr.”

Enterprise mannequin challenges

“On the whole, we’re again to pre-pandemic ranges for 2019 for seed rounds, like $2 million to $3 million; there are some exceptions however a number of,” mentioned Mark Kahn, managing associate of Omnivore, when requested concerning the present financing local weather within the sector. For different rounds, he added, pre-money scores are down 33% from their 2021 peak.

Startups within the area are nonetheless discovering preliminary challenges to enterprise fashions, as some have succumbed to an investor-led push to scale gross merchandise worth (GMV) with out an energetic give attention to gross margin, in line with an business insider.

GMV is the overall worth of products bought by the corporate, and the gross margin is the quantity left after subtracting the price of items bought from internet gross sales.

“When it comes to the enterprise fashions that work in agritech, the enter linkages are doing very effectively, and the output linkages are working very effectively in non-perishable merchandise. In perishables and in branded contemporary produce, they’re solely doing effectively in exports,” he mentioned. Khan. “The entire ‘I purchase greens from farms after which promote them to Kirana’ enterprise mannequin with nothing else is useless.”

Elevating capital has been troublesome prior to now six or eight months. DeHaat’s $60 million increase in December took a very long time to shut, individuals acquainted with the matter instructed ET.

“We will verify that DeHaat’s present valuation after Collection E funding is between $700 million and $800 million, which is about an 80% premium from the earlier funding spherical that occurred lower than 13 months in the past,” an organization spokesperson instructed ET.

DeHaat is among the many high agritech startups by income, together with Waycool Meals & Merchandise, which claimed to have posted Rs 1,008 crore in income within the fiscal yr ending March 2022 (FY22).

Learn additionally: 2022 REVIEW: Fund-hungry startups have laid off practically 18,000 staff

DeHaat, based mostly in Patna and Gurgaon, had revenues up 3.6 occasions to Rs 1,274 crore in FY22, in line with the spokesperson.

“We’re on monitor to ship greater than double that quantity in FY23… We’re on an exponential progress trajectory with over 2.5 million farmers and 15,000 DIY facilities anticipated by the top of FY23, which shall be 3 occasions the expansion from FY22 Being a well-capitalized group, we intention to proceed this progress trajectory in FY24 as effectively.”

Dahat mentioned it employed 2,000 individuals till final yr.

“There’s been plenty of progress these days and that is why firms are stepping up and hiring extra individuals… No longer everybody who’s employed will work on the similar degree, so that you’re hiring little or no, identical to large firms do and maintain,” mentioned Akanksha Malik, founding father of Growth360. , which helps startups rent mid- to senior-level individuals.

Omidyar Community India and Sequoia Surge-backed Bijak have additionally been tightening their insurance policies on advertising and marketing and personnel prices just lately, a number of sources instructed ET.

Three business insiders confirmed that PJAC has laid off a number of staff. ET couldn’t verify the precise variety of layoffs.

Nonetheless, Kahn of Omnivore, an investor in Bijak, denied the allegations and instructed ET that Bijak has years of funding left and no motive to chop its workforce.

The corporate operates a B2B agricultural commodity buying and selling market for agricultural suppliers and consumers, a barely busier market inside agritech, competing with the likes of India-backed WayCool Meals and Merchandise Lightrock, Arya-backed Quona Capital, Prosus-backed Vegrow and Walmart-backed Walmart. ninjacart.

“There isn’t a dearth of capital to put money into the sector…however the query is what value are buyers keen to pay. That is the place plenty of offers get caught,” Hemendra Mathur, enterprise associate at Bharat Innovation Fund and co-founder of ThinkAg, instructed ET.

(drawings and illustrations by Rahul Awsti)

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