Omnivore Partners invests $1M in cold storage maker Ecozen Solutions; Villgro exits

Early-stage agri-tech focused investment fund Omnivore Partners has invested around $1 million (Rs 6.2 crore) in a Series A round of funding in Pune-based Ecozen Solutions, a company that makes solar-powered cold storage units for farmers, for a significant minority stake.

As part of the deal, the venture capital firm has also bought out the stake held by Chennai-based social enterprise incubator Villgro Innovations Foundation, which had provided seed-stage investment to Ecozen Solutions last year.

Ecozen Solutions, which focuses on applications of distributed power generation for agriculture and rural communities, will use the Series A funds to expand production capacity and widen market reach.

“Our aim is to use the funding to reach critical mass and invest in manufacturing of the product,” Devendra Gupta, co-founder of Ecozen Solutions, said in the press release.

The firm's storage solution has already been deployed in Karnataka through the University of Agriculture Sciences, Raichur. It is now reaching out to more areas in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

“We will also be using the funding to improve the business structure and supply chain including logistics and production,” Gupta said.

At present, Ecozen Solutions has sold six cold storage units on a pilot basis and has installed over 125 pumps in Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Assam.

"Ecozen has the solution to provide last-mile cold chain to India's farmers and radically reduce losses of fresh produce,” Jinesh Shah, founding partner of Omnivore, said.

Founded in 2010 by Devendra Gupta, Vivek Pandey and Prateek Singhal, alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Ecozen Solutions manufactures proprietary, solar-powered, micro cold storage units and water pumping technologies for farmers and rural communities.

The company is working on new technologies that would allow pumps to use solar power more efficiently and which can mitigate the risk of groundwater depletion. It is also deploying a micro cold storage solution, targeted at horticulture and floriculture farmers.

Based in Mumbai, Omnivore Partners is a venture fund investing in early-stage agriculture and food technology companies in India. Currently it manages a $50 million fund. The Godrej Group is a strategic investor in the fund.

Its portfolio companies include Skymet Weather Services, Khedut Agro Engineering, MITRA, FrontalRain Technologies, Arohan Foods, Barrix Agro Sciences, Stellapps Technologies and Eruvaka Technologies.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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