Startup Of The Week – Saptkrishi
| 3 minutes read
Founded in – 2019
Industry – Agri-Tech
Founders – Mr. Nikky Kumar Jha, Ms. Rashmi Jha
CEO – Mr. Nikky Kumar Jha
Startup Motto – “Uplifting the hands that feed us.”
Team Size – 12
Below is the transcript of our interview with Saptkrishi
Could you please tell us about Saptkrishi to our readers and what it is all about?
We are a young Agri-Tech startup incubated at IIT Kanpur & IIT Patna with youth in decisive roles determined to work towards agricultural innovation and the transformation of rural South Asia.
Our startup addresses the issue of the perishability of horticultural commodities and works on reducing waste by the development and provision of affordable technology directly to individual farmers, cooperatives, and traders to ensure better post-harvest outcomes.
Could you please tell us about Sabjikothi (Preservator)? And also, how you manage to keep the cost down?
We designed and developed Sabjikothi in order to solve the problem of the lack of proper storage and transportation solutions for fruits and vegetables, which causes the wastage of horticultural produce.
Sabjikothi is a one-of-its-kind wheel-mountable, Cost-effective, Micro-climate based. Portable storage extends the shelf-life while preserving the freshness of fruits and vegetables anywhere between 3 to 30 days just by utilizing 20 watts of solar power and 1-liter water.
The entire setup costs only INR 10,000 for 200 kg capacity and using an innovative chemical-free and non-cooling technology enabled us to keep the cost down.
What are your challenges during the initial days you faced? And how did you push through?
One of the major challenges before us was reaching out to our primary customers- small and marginal farmers, who are usually very reluctant to change or intervene with new technology in their lives. They are also away from the world of the internet and social media. So, we need to personally target and reach out to such customers and make them realize the usefulness of our innovation.
We have already succeeded in this direction through our pilot trials and demo days in various rural areas.
What is your vision and mission behind this Saptkrishi company? How your team coordinates with farmers? And what procedures you follow?
Our vision is a holistic development of the agricultural sector and economically stabilizing its biggest stakeholders, i.e., farmers. Our business model does not revolve around making profits but rather around the problems faced by farmers. In the coming year, we aspire to solve the problems of more than 10,000 farmers and traders through our product as a goal of our social enterprise. In the long term, we aim to achieve this through our technological solutions, which will revolutionize the agricultural sector.
We have collaborated with many governmental and non-governmental organizations to create awareness about our product in various customer segments. We are having Institutional Partnerships with the agricultural supply chain (AgriCoop), linkages with Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), National Rural Livelihoods Mission, etc. to coordinate with farmers. We are also trying to get further subsidies for the farmers on our product.
What have you failed at? And how you recovered from that phase?
As part of my MSc dissertation in Ecology and Environment Studies from Nalanda University, I developed an off-grid cold storage device considering the state of electricity supply in Bihar and the post-harvest wastage that I saw all my life, particularly for horticultural produce.
But there was one flaw in the device. It failed to work during the monsoon season. I was a bit stressed about this and discussed the matter at home. During a family dinner in 2018, my younger sister, Rashmi Jha, a biotechnologist, told me that I was doing the same thing as others by making a device that supplies artificial cooling. Instead, she suggested that I make a device that does the job of preserving fruits and vegetables. That specific point of extending the shelf life of farmer produce without resorting to refrigeration stayed with me. After this conversation, both my sister and I conducted research on the same, and that’s how we came up with Sabjikothi/ Preservator.
What are Saptkrishi’s future plans? And where do you want to be?
We plan to set up a full capacity manufacturing unit soon to scale up our business. In the upcoming few months, we plan to integrate the feedback generated during the trials conducted at several locations to finalize the market-ready products. We also plan to optimize the microclimate of the device as per different agri-climatic zones.
After that, we’ll start the pilot testing with farmers at even larger scales and also ship products to early adopters based on pre-orders (more than 350).
Essentially, in a year, we plan to grow and scale up our business by setting up omnichannel sales through trade fairs, FPOs, and digital mediums (Website, E-commerce, & Social Media).
Any secret formula to young entrepreneurs?
Instead of running for making million-dollar or billion-dollar companies, stay focused on problem-solving. Money will follow.
Could you describe yourself in one word?