News Corp VCCircle Food & Agri Investment Summit 2017
Food & Agri Investments: A hard nut to crack?
The food and agriculture sector has remained largely on the periphery of the startup space and private investment activity in India despite the sector supporting close to 60% of the population. In the past three years, most entrepreneurial activity and investment has remained focused on consumer-facing food startups and not necessarily farm ventures, which, indeed, are in the dire need of disruption, innovation and committed investments.
While digitization, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are being heavily used in the farm sector in countries such as Israel, China and the US, India has yet to warm up to these ideas.
Over the years, a disproportionate amount of private capital has flowed into food tech ventures such as FreshMenu and Faasos. These ventures, however, were more about tech than food. Also, because of the mushrooming of ‘me-too’ startups in the segment and lack of imaginative ideas, there aren't too many success stories to write home about. In the past 15 months, a lot of funded startups, such as TinyOwl and Eatonomist, shut shop or pivoted because of the absence of a sustainable business model. Even those that have survived, such as Zomato and Swiggy, are far from turning in any profits in the near future.
On the farm front, most entrepreneurial activity and investment has been focused on seed-tech initiatives or in areas such as organic farming, packaged foods, drinks, dairy, food processing, supply chain logistics and farm equipment. Besides these, sundry initiatives have been seen in weather forecasting and the monitoring of soil and farm yields.
It’s only a handful of investors, such as Proterra, Mandala Capital, Pioneering Ventures, Rabo Equity, CX Partners, impact funds like SEAF, Aavishkar; Ankur Capital, Menterra and venture agritech funds like Omnivore Capital, with few exceptions such as Blackstone investing in Nuziveedu Seeds that have taken bets on the sector.
The entrepreneurial and investing community concedes that there is immense scope for disruption in efforts to augment farm yields and to surmount the disparate challenges in the journey from farm to the fork.
Likewise, rising disposable incomes and changing consumer tastes as well as awareness with regards to the quality of food products is throwing a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs, and hence, investors, too, in consumer-facing retail food business.
What is, then, holding investors and entrepreneurs back? Why is everybody aiming for the lowest-hanging fruit? Why, even with that, success is hard to come by? What went wrong with food ecommerce enterprises? What could the government do to inspire more private participation in the sector?
To debate these issues and more, News Corp VCCircle is hosting the 9th edition of the Food and Agriculture Investment Summit in Mumbai in October. The summit will feature leading food entrepreneurs, PE and VC investors, agricultural experts, consultants and food and beverage innovators.
9.00AM – 10.00AM
Registration & networking
10.00AM – 10.10AM
Opening address by Jaideep Mehta, CEO, NewsCorp VCCircle
Chief Guest address by
Nara Lokesh - Minister for IT, Electronics & Communication, Panchayat Raj and Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh
10.40AM – 11.25AM
Panel 1 - Overview of Agri & Food Investments 2017: Is enough capital available for disruption?
After hitting a five-year low in terms of the PE Investment which came in last year, investors remain hopeful to see startups bringing in the scalable ideas from their farm to the table. Private sector investment was on the increase when global and domestic prices of agri-products were on the rise. But now with falling commodity prices, even this is slowing down. With a market size of $260 billion posing as an opportunity, fragmented land resources, large number of small farmer makes accessibility to capital as a challenge. In a largely agrarian economy like India, why aren’t investors interested in becoming a part of the next potential green revolution?
Pablo Erat - Partner, Pioneering Ventures AG
S Venkatraman - Partner, Rabo Equity Advisors Pvt. Ltd.
Ramesh Ramachandran - Senior Vice President - Strategy and Precision Farming, Mahindra & Mahindra
Vipul Mankad - MD, SEAF India Investment Advisors
Manish Mehta - Managing Director, Samara Capital
Ritu Verma - Co-founder & Managing Partner, Ankur Capital (Moderator)
11.25AM – 11.40AM
11.40AM - 12.25PM
Panel 2 - New Frontiers in Food Investments
As investors move on from the food tech and the traditional agribusiness, they see high potential in newer avenues like online milk delivery, food processing and organic farming, all three being a different ball game altogether. Doodhwala and Milk Basket which promise to deliver fresh milk from the farm within 12 hours of placing the order have grabbed the attention of investors as they compete with milk veterans like Mother Dairy and Amul. Due to higher profit margins compared to non-organic food items, organic farming promises high market potential as it is expected to grow into a $2billion market by 2020. The food processing industry with contributes to 14% of India’s GDP alone has now been allowed 100% FDI which looks to attract investment with the growing consumer spending on food and exports.
Vivek Nirmal – MD & CEO, Prabhat Dairy Ltd.
Srikumar Misra – Founder, MD & CEO, Milkmantra
Bikram Mahajan – Director - Neev Fund, SBICAP Ventures Limited
Sameer Varma – Founding Member, Tuscan Ventures Pvt. Ltd
Sumer Juneja – Director, Norwest Venture Partners (Moderator)
12.25PM – 1.10PM
Panel 3 - Farming as a Service (FAAS)
Disrupting the age old ownership mode, providing technology based services to 85% of the Indian farmers who own less than five acres of land by way of the paper-use model is drawing a lot of interest from the industry. Big wigs such Mahindra & Mahindra, TAFE and John Deere have already started experimenting with a pay-per-use model for their farming equipment including tractors. Will this new service intervention at farming level bring in newer avenues for business? How will it empower farmers with smaller holdings to access best in class technology to improve productivity? Will FAAS be the next big idea in agri services space?
Abhilash Thirupathi – Co-founder, Goldfarm
Alekh Sanghera – Co-founder, farMart
Atindriya Bose – CEO, Trringo
Kushal Agarwal – Partner, Aspada Investment Advisors (Moderator)
1.10PM – 2.00PM
2.00PM – 2.45PM
Panel 4 - Agri – Tech Innovations: Role of IoT, Big Data & Analytics in bridging the gaps
Emerging agri-tech innovations in big data, IoT, satellite imagery, sensor technology has the potential to add value starting from selecting the right agriculture inputs, monitoring the soil used, market price tracking, weather forecasting and controlling irrigation. Using satellite imagery and remote analysis farmers can increase their productivity and drop their input cost dramatically. Startups such as Cropin and Satsure are using data analytics to integrate satellite, weather and IoT to study the parameters governing crop growth and soil health. What are the latest trends in this space and how is technology being embraced by the agri community?
Jinesh Shah – Founding Partner, Omnivore Partners
Amardeep Sibia – CEO, SatSure Ltd
Krishna Kumar – Founder & CEO, CropIn Technology Solutions Pvt Ltd.
Ranjith Mukundan – Co-founder & CEO, Stellapps Technologies Pvt. Ltd
Hemendra Mathur – Venture Partner, Bharat Innovations Fund (Moderator)
2.45PM – 3.30PM
Panel 5: Seamless & Efficient Logistics: The game changer
The supply chain associated with the food sector is going through rapid transformation as there is huge potential in the agriculture input retail as well as output retail at the consumer’s end. We have Agrostar, India Post resolving the agri input retail for the farmers and you have Crofarm, Ninjakart kind of companies building supply chain-based retail models, resolving the other end of supply chain issues. Also, with GST coming in, the sector looks to overcome previous inefficiencies has a huge growth potential. Hence, private investments in the sector have also seen an uptick with Loadshare, Rivigo kind of startups raising big rounds of funding, and are in news for even bigger rounds expected. With a tax friendly environment, will we see some big-ticket investments coming in the fragmented food logistics sector? What does this mean for food and agriculture startups relying heavily on efficient logistics ecosystem?
Rajat Gupta – Founder CEO, Tessol
Thirukumaran Nagarajan – Co-founder & CEO, Ninjacart
Rajinder Balaraman – VP, Matrix Partners
Karthik Jayaraman – Founding team member, WayCool Foods and Products Pvt Ltd
Sonal Shah – Executive Director, SMC Capitals Ltd (Moderator)
3.30PM – 3.45PM
3.45PM – 4.15PM
We bring our Showcase session, a curated platform that brings a set of handpicked innovative food & agri startups to make an elevator pitch to select jury of angel investors, houseful of VCs & fellow entrepreneurs. This is also an opportunity to early stage, pre-revenue, startups as well to grab investor attention. Click here to apply for showcase.
Jinesh Shah – Founding Partner, Omnivore Partners
Rajinder Balaraman – VP, Matrix Partners
Srini Vudayagiri – Partner, Peepul Capital
4.15PM – 5.00PM
Panel 6 - Building indigenous food brands: What goes in?
Home-grown brands such as Bira, Epigamia, Vahdam Teas are competing against established foreign brands which enjoy a heavy market share but within a short period of time have found their footing in an otherwise largely monopolistic market. Is their focus on product differentiation making them look like an attractive investment? What goes into building an indigenous brand?
Anuj Rakyan – MD, Raw Pressery
Siddarth Menon – CMO, Drums Food International
Vivek Abrol – CEO, Maiyas Beverages and Foods Private Limited
Saurabh Bajaj – Senior Principal Associate, Proterra Investment Partners
Srini Vudayagiri – Partner, Peepul Capital (Moderator)
Date: October 27, 2017
Venue: Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai
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