FASAL, is an AI-powered IoT platform for Agriculture ecosystem
Interviewee Name- Shailendra Tiwari
1.A brief note about your company?
The name of our company is Wolkus Technology solutions Pvt. Ltd. It was founded by My partner Ananda Verma and me with help from our friends Arpit and Adarsh Verma and Vaibhav singh Rajput,. Our friends Anupam Ravi who is Ex-CTO of sweep enviro and Sandeep Krishnamurthy who is a part of Amazon’s Machine learning team at Seattle (USA) also joined us later on our Technical Advisory board.
Together we developed a product we fondly call Fasal, which means crop in english.
FASAL, is an AI-powered IoT platform for Agriculture ecosystem that records a variety of growing conditions on the farm. It then uses artificial intelligence and data science to make on-farm predictions, before delivering the insights anywhere on any device including (iOS, Android, Tablet and web) FASAL helps in, *Irrigation management, pest and disease management and control, fertiliser, fungicide and pesticide application management. *Getting real-time alerts about crop, soil and weather conditions to make adjustments to reach optimal growth conditions. *Planning specific strategies and predicting disease and virus outbreak.
We are currently being incubated at Nasscom Centre of excellence-IoT Bengaluru. We have recently raised early funding from Zeroth.ai, Asia first AI and ML accelerator based out of Hong Kong. We are active in the regions of Chhattisgarh, M.P, Karnataka, Andhra Maharashtra and a couple of overseas geographies. We also recently found ourselves in the list of greatest Asian startups published by Techinasia .
2.Your company’s motive?
At Fasal we are passionately pursuing the mission of enabling farmers to grow more and grow better. With a significant portion of Indians relying on agriculture, it is critical that agri-sector performs well to positively impact livelihoods of farmers. The Prime Minister has kept a target of doubling the farmer’s income by 2022. It can only be made possible when efficient and revolutionary technologies are infused strongly into the agri value chain. We are doing our bit zealously to optimise this chain in the agri-input part where fasal helps farmers to optimise and prevent rather than react to diseases, adverse and erratic weather conditions and plan better.
3.How are you going to set up your team for betterment of your company?
I am a very strong believer in the concept of ‘right people for the right job’. When you put right people to the job, and let them do it, extra ordinary things happen. All we have to do is find the right people who have empathy in our mission to enable and empower farmers. I am sure they will take Fasal to a place better than we can imagine right now
4.Where do you think this business is going in the next couple of years?
To as many farmers who can benefit from our services irrespective of geography, literacy level, languages they speak and the size of their land holding. We have seen Fasal doing wonders for farmers who are currently using it. They have been able to cut irrigation costs by 50%, disease cost by 30-50% and have grown better quality of crops than they used too. We must do all it takes to reach as many farmers/agri-institution/companies as we can to make sure we make the impact in their lives at a large scale.
5.What kind of team talent is needed as you build and scale up your profit?
The biggest quality that i personally seek, integral to our success, is passion and genuine curiosity along with a desire to do good for society. That’s non-negotiable for us.
In terms of skills we are looking for data scientists, agronomists, full stack developers etc.
6.What does success look like for you?
We are chasing a day where we have enabled farmers to grow more and better at Scale. A day where farmers are making data driven decisions and not one based on guess work. The cost of cultivation has decreased and the yield has increased. ‘Fasal’ and good fasal is everywhere
7.What is the more difficult part in leadership?
As a founder, all you do is make decisions. A lot of them and all the time. Some really critical one’s and some petty one’s. The most difficult part of this is being unsure of something.
You wan’t all your decisions to hit bull’s eye, reaping the kind of results that you wanted to. But it does not always happen. The conundrum that you go through before making a critical decision is chilling at times. A founder must master the art of making good decisions.
8.Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
There is not one but many people who have shaped me. I will always remain indebted to them through out my life. One of them is my father. I think i am nothing but just an extension of him in many aspects. Being sensitive to situations and other people is one of the many qualities i admire in him. While I was young he has always held my back and remained kind even in situations which were tough. He would let me take my decisions and learn from the mistakes that i made. All these things made me strong. I rarely find myself in a situation which i don’t think i can manage, howsoever difficult they may be. Also making mistakes earlier has inculcated the habit of analysing situations where a decision can go wrong and be ready with a plan to mitigate any kind of risks that may originate.
In my professional life, I recall i have learned a lot by observing a few folks. Raghu Rao, who was then the director of sourcing at Decathlon during my stint was a significant impact. His way of managing people was a treat to watch. I will always be indebted to him in the ways that our small interactions inspired me. Once my manager Shailesh Saxena is another person i will always remain indebted to.10.What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Be very self aware and mindful. Leadership If done right, makes Mandela’s and Jack Ma’s of the world whereas the world is filled with examples of poor leadership and it’s implications. You must know your strengths and weaknesses. You must have a vision in which you can believe in. You must have the courage to chase that vision. You must hold abundance of faith that your vision will definitely come true and you must work with all the diligence to achieve it. Inspire people.
9. What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Being a Founder and being a good leader are two different things. Just because we founded a company does not necessarily makes us good leaders.
I believe that there is a long way to go for me to become a good ‘leader’ per se. Much to learn and much more to do. I just really try my best to not miss any opportunity to learn from anyone or anything. All I hope to gain the trust of people who can teach and guide me and inspire those to join me who share my vision. And i really hope that i can do justice to people’s faith and responsibilities bestowed upon me.