On an on-demand procurement model to provide fresh fruits and vegetables -Freshokartz

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Interview of Nagendra Yadav (Cofounder of freshokartz)
Q1. Give a brief info about your startup?
Freshokartz Agri Products is an ecommerce marketplace for fruits and vegetable in Jaipur. It works on an on-demand procurement model to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to hotel, café, restaurant and other commercial kitchens that are directly procured from farms but
Q2. Give us a background of your core team and yourself with the age?
Nagendra Yadav (Age:25): Nagendra completed his schooling form his village near Gorakhpur (U.P.). After graduation from IIIT Jabalpur in computer science he started working With SAS Institute  as Techno-functional consultant for clients in Middle East and Australia.

Rajendra Lora(Age:25): Rajendra completed his schooling form his village in Nagour district of Rajasthan. He did his btech in computer science and Engineering from IIIT Jabalpur. After graduation he worked as a software developer in Suvidhaa Infoserve Mumbai and a Project Manager- tech in an early stage startup.
Q3. What was the trigger for starting FreshoKartz? 
We both (Nagendra and Rajendra) founders are from farming background and did farming in our early days of our lives. We did our initial education till secondary from our villages. After graduating from IIIT Jabalpur(This is where we met) we both started our corporate career in different companies in different cities. Even being in different part of the world we continued our discussion about solving the problems we faced during our early age because of famers situations in rural area. We wanted to do something for farmers and for agriculture field. When we started living in metro cities then we realized everything is very costly, specially vegetables but farmers are not getting good prices. One day when Rajendra was buying the onion in Mumbai it’s price is twice of what his father was getting for his onions. In our next discussion we brought this point and did some research in this field and found this huge difference in prices is because of multiple level of mediators and wastage in supply chain. We decided to visit Jaipur for our initial research about the market. The problem was real, there was huge price difference and no quality standard followed.  There were multi levels of mediators involved from farms to end consumers and everyone keeps their margins.
Q4. When did you decide to take the entrepreneurial plunge?
After finding the real problem and doing our market research, we decided to take biggest decisions of our lives. We decided to resign from our jobs and stay in Jaipur to start Freshokartz. It was 14th Nov, 2016 we started our operations in Jaipur. Because of some challenges in company registration we were able to register our company 1 month later, 15 Dec, 2016. In the beginning we were looking after of everything including Sales/ marketing, purchasing, packaging and delivery to our customers’ doorstep. Currently we have more than 20 employees working in different sections
 
Q5. Why did you choose agri-produce segment only?
We already knew the problem at farmers’ end because of our background. In our research we found that quality of service and quality of fresh produces to Hotels/Cafes are not satisfactory because of unorganized people in this field. This is the point where we decided to start with fresh item category that solves farmers and consumers in B2B sector problems.
Q6. How does your company differentiate itself from the competition?
This field is very big and no big organized player yet. We feel our biggest competition is with local Mandy. We are superior to our competition because of below qualities
1. Tech enabled supply chain
2. Tech enabled platform for customers 
3. Better customer service
4. Tech enabled demand forecasting that helps us in our procurement
and many more ….
Q7. How big is the market size and the growth potential?
Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. India is $100 Bn plus market of Fruits and Vegetable. Commercial kitchens contribute around 40% of total consumption. We are targeting HORECA (Hotel, Restaurant, Café) and retailers section in this field. Jaipur is one of the biggest tier-2 city in India. It’s Rs. 1000 Cr. Plus market in B2B section. Since this is a new field, growth potential is tremendous.
 
Q8. Also, do you have any plan to get into the retail (B2C) segment as well?
No plans at the moment
Q9.  Fruits and vegetables segment seems to be the hottest category now with many large e-commerce players looking to grab a major pie of the market. How do you plan to compete against your bigger competitors?Definitely, this section is hottest category right now and we are already in a strong position .
We are focusing on tier 2 cities right now because of easy expansion. As we are already stablished in one tier 2 city, expanding in similar cities will be easier as they would behave in similar way.
Q10. Tell us about your procurement challenges. How do you ensure access to best quality farm produce?
We have around 200 farmers in our network from local area but still in off season like May, Jun, July we face in procuring quality produces. We have certain parameters to ensure quality farm produce.
Q11. How do you see the current state of agriculture in the country and what steps would you suggest to improve the conditions of Indian farmers? 
India is number one in IT services but still majority of population is dependent on agriculture. but still I can see lack of knowledge in farmers about modern farming techniques. Some farmers are not able to grow enough produces to survive their families. I believe more young and educated minds are required in this field as well.
Q12.Do you think ventures like yours which work directly with the cultivators will make sure the latter gets due price for their produce while reducing the role of the middle men? 
Ventures like Freshoartz are working closely with farmers. We are guiding and educating them to grow produces that are in demand and that can give them better prices. We also guide them about agri inputs for better quality production. All these inputs will definitely help them produce good quality items that can be sold in better pricing.
Q13. What is your long-term plan for FreshoKartz?
Our ultimate goal is to promote farming and bring down wastage in fresh produces below 5% which is currently 35-40%. Our next 2 years plan is to improve operational efficiency, open collection centers and cross 60 Cr. Revenue.
 
Q14. Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise?
We bootstrapped for 14 months and raised our angel round recently. Along with angel round we got support from Rajasthan government as part of iStart program. Through Bhamashah Techno fund : 20 Lacs and 10 Lacs for marketing assistances. We are also being incubated by iStart incubator as part of iStart program run by Rajasthan government to support early stage startups. 

We are looking to raise next round of funding to expand our service area and achieve our short-term goals.
Q15. Suggest​ions for young entrepreneurs?

I would like to invite more people in agri-tech field. They can be from different backgrounds like technology, agri scientists and investors. This field is big and needs more innovative people to help it grow.

I would like to suggest aspiring entrepreneurs to first do their research, gain some practical knowledge in this field and then enter this field.

http://freshokartz.com

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