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Nabventures fund invests in pre-series A round in agritech startup Vilcart
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Vilcart Solutions Pvt Ltd, which runs and operates online e-commerce portal Vilcart.com has raised Rs 15 crore (around $2 million) in Pre-Series A equity funding round led by Nabventures Fund, an early-stage government-backed venture growth fund.

This is the 8th investment in the agriculture start-up space for Nabventures Fund 1, the flagship venture growth equity fund of Nabventures Ltd backed by government-owned National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

The funding round for Vilcart also saw participation from existing investors Prashanth Prakash, S J Ashok and Nagaraj R of Accel Partners also invested in the round.   

Vilcart has also received backing from investors such as Parthasarathy N. S., ex Co-founder of Mind tree, Dilip Khandelwal, MD of Deutsche Bank, Ananth Ravi, Ex Sr. VP, Reliance Industries, Anand Banka, Kalit Kapur, Jyothirmayee J. T. and others.

The company said it plans to expand pan India over the next two years. Its operations have grown at 4x year on year.  

“We are transforming the traditional rural kirana stores into the modern supermarket by providing all the urban comfort of procurement of a vast range of consumer products of the best quality at best prices. Our platform enhances consumer choice, improves access to new products for rural consumers, enhances the rural market for consumer brands, and provides greater data analytics to brands.” C. Prasanna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Vilcart said in a statement. 

Founded in 2018, Vilcart started operations with one district in Karnataka and within three years it has expanded to 20 districts of Karnataka and one district each in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.  

Vilcart provides a technology bridge between rural Kiranas/rural consumers and consumer brands/manufacturers. It offers sourcing, logistics, branding and marketing support to brands and rural kirana; and also collects data on rural consumers.

“Vilcart platform has a lot of scope to push products locally manufactured by the self-help groups and FPOs to rural consumers and enhance rural incomes. Further, this platform enhances the reach of consumer brands in rural areas. With this investment, Nabventures is looking to support the digitalisation of rural distribution channels. Rural consumption data at a granular level is highly valuable," said Dr. G. R. Chintala, Chairman of Nabard and Nabventures.

Nabventures Fund

Nabventures Fund 1, the flagship fund of Nabventures Ltd, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), was floated as a Rs 700 crore (around $100 million) venture capital fund in May 2019. It has a target corpus of Rs 500 crore and greenshoe option of Rs 200 crore.

It has invested Rs 106 crore from the total of around Rs 375 crore raised.

Nabventures invests in food, agritech, and rural fintech and has invested in seven startups so far including Jai Kisan, Unnati, KrishiTantra, Satyukt, TenderCuts and Vilcart. It recently made its first exit  clocking 2.5x returns from its three-month investment in Fraazo, a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand.

In a recent interview with VCCircle, Nabventures CEO Rajesh Ranjan said Nabventures is likely to pare down its average investment size per deal amid tighter startup valuations. It plans to close 3-4 deals this month.

Parent Nabard, the apex development finance institution, has assets under management (AUM) of $90 billion.

Agri-tech funding  

A slew of tech startups focused on agriculture have attracted funding. Since April last year.  

FarMart is among several startups in the larger agri-tech segment to pull in funding from strategic players and investors. This year, venture capital funds have already pumped in $234 million in 32 agritech startups till September.   

Over the past year, DeHaat, Jai Kisan, AgNext, WayCool, and Animall have raised $115.95 million cumulatively.   

Last month, business-to-business agricultural-commerce platform SuperZop raised $4 million ( Rs 29.6 crore) and Crofarm Agriproducts raised a $10.2 million (Rs 76 crores) Series A round.   

Early-stage government-backed venture growth fund Nabventures told VCCircle this week that within the next 30 days, it will increase its overall investments in the agri-tech space to Rs 150 crore.  

FarMart, a SaaS-led food supply platform, raised a $10 million (around Rs 74.8 crore) funding round led by Matrix Partners India.  

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