Omnivore Capital invests in agri-tech startup FrontalRain, agri equipment firm Khedut Agro

Godrej-Agrovet-backed early-stage VC fund has made two fresh investments. It has put in Rs 5 crore ($0.95 million) in Bangalore-based agri-tech startup Frontal Rain Technologies and has invested an undisclosed sum in Rajkok-based agri equipment maker Khedut Agro.

FrontalRain will use the funds to expand its business pan-India and globally as well as to add micro vertical specific features to its products in order to address commodity-specific challenges.

Incorporated in November 2010, FrontalRain provides Rain+, a group of food supply chain software on Cloud that can address specific needs of agribusinesses, food processing plants, cold chains, warehousing companies, distributors, retailers, commodity traders and professional agri service providers. The product portfolio comprises Rain+Grow, Rain+Make, Rain+Move, Rain+Trade and Rain+Serve.

The company claimed that Rain+ technology brings together the benefits of integrated business processes of an enterprise application and combines this with collaboration, e-commerce, social networking and mobile capabilities to enable customers to interact with suppliers and customers. This technology is used by companies dealing with commodities like spices, herbs, Basmati Rice, seeds, animal feed, sea food, dairy and edible oil.

“Within 18 months of the beginning, Rain+ achieved success. We have not spent even a pie in marketing till now. So, we will use the funds to make people in India aware about our offerings,” FrontalRain’s founder and MD Jayaram Srinivasan told VCCircle.

“Our idea is to use social network capabilities in the area of business software to enable collaboration in supply chain networks. It would eventually result in a Facebook, Google+ of food and agri business,” he added.

Srinivasan also noted that FrontalRain will bring down the prices of its offerings to gain more customers.

FrontalRain counts companies such as SAIFCO Group, Phalada Agro Research Foundation, Growl Feeds, Triton Consultants etc among its key clients. Some of them use Rain+ to manage their operations in remote locations, using cloud based information technology solutions.

India has a complex agri supply chain, which consists of 600 million farmers, 1,200 million consumers and five million traders, according to a company statement. Information asymmetry between the farm gate and the point of consumption increases the prices approximately by four times and even higher in some perishable commodities. Foreign companies coming to India will have to depend on IT companies for cloud based application to manage distributed systems, surveillance tools, display technologies and location-based services.

Lack of technology-based intervention in food and agribusiness leading to low productivity and severe post harvest losses have been discussed in various forums, but very little has been done till now.

While vertically integrated players can benefit by implementing the complete suite, smaller agribusiness players can benefit by deploying parts of Rain+ solution.

Set up by three senior executives from SAP with over 50 years of combined business and product development expertise in the enterprise software business, Omnivore Capital is a venture fundinvesting in agricultural technology startups in India.

The company has also picked up a 26 per cent stake in Rajkot-based Khedut Agro Engineering for an undisclosed amount.

Khedut Agro Engineering Pvt Ltd is engaged in manufacturing and export of tractor drawn, ox operated, manual/ hand operated automatic seed drill, seed planter, dumper, cultivators and other tractor attachments. The firm was founded by Dinesh J. Khanpara in 1997 to develop and sell agriculture equipment for seeding at affordable prices.

The company also exports its seed drills to a large number of countries in the Middle East, East Africa, Latin America, and to developing countries like Bangladesh.

In August 2011, Omnivore bought 33 per cent stake in Skymet, a private weather forecasting company.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)

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