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SIDBI Venture Capital bets on agri-commerce platform SuperZop
Photo Credit: VCCircle

Business-to-business agricultural-commerce platform SuperZop has raised Rs 8 crore ($1.16 million) in pre-Series A funding from investors including SIDBI Venture Capital Ltd’s MS Fund.

Other investors in the funding round include CIIE Initiatives, the technology incubator of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, and angel investor Gurumurthy Raman.

SuperZop, operated by Retranz Infolabs Pvt. Ltd, said in a statement it will use the funding to expand its store network with a view to reach over 30,000 B2B customers in the next year. It will also use the capital to strengthen its technological infrastructure to improve its customer service experience.

Ahmedabad-based SuperZop uses its platform to help small kirana stores acquire staples such as rice, wheat and pulses directly from farmers, farmer producer organisations and mills.

Vipul Patel, vice president for investments at CIIE, said SuperZop is building a strong channel for staples through technology and offering institutional credit to small retailers. “The fund will be supporting SuperZop’s team in scaling its operation in Mumbai and strengthening its technology platform,” Patel said.

SIDBI Venture Capital said the startup had been able to address the needs of kirana stores, and that it was also able to offer farmers a platform to get higher rates for their crops.

The startup was founded by Darshan Krishnamurthy, Raghuveer Allada and Prithwi Singh. It uses its proprietary technology to assess the quality of staple crops passing through its platform. The company also provides credit to its customers, lets them order in local languages and provides next-day delivery support.

Investors

SIDBI Venture Capital is the VC arm of the state-run Small Industries Development Bank of India. Via its funds, the firm makes both equity and debt investments in startups. It also runs a Rs 10,000 crore fund of funds. The MS Fund, or Maharashtra State Social Venture Fund, is an alternative investment vehicle that was floated in 2015.

SIDBI VC’s recent bets include a Rs 20-crore investment in Chiliad Procons Pvt. Ltd, which provides design and project management services for entertainment and other sectors. It has also invested in serviced office infrastructure provider CorporateEdge, software-as-a-service startup FieldAssist and food-tech company Holachef.

CIIE, short for the Centre for Innovation, Incubation & Entrepreneurship, claims to have made around 100 investments and mentored about 5,000 startups since 2009. One of its most recent investments came in January when it offered seed funding to Oizom Instruments, an internet of things startup focussed on curbing pollution.

It has also invested in Heelium Sports Pvt. Ltd, a startup which makes customised running shoes, and Noida-based placement solutions provider Reculta.

Agri-tech funding deals

The agri-tech segment has seen heightened investor activity in recent months, with startups and large corporates seeking to address gaps in India’s agricultural sector as well as to modernise the value chain across the ecosystem.

In June, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd agreed to invest 4.3 million Swiss francs ($4.3 million or Rs 30 crore) in Swiss agricultural-technology company Gamaya SA. India’s biggest tractor maker said at the time that Gamaya would support the company’s farm equipment business by development technology solutions.

In May, Green AgRevolution Pvt. Ltd, which operates the DeHaat online marketplace for farm products and services, acqui-hired farm management services provider VezaMart. DeHaat said the transaction was in line with its target of reaching one million farmers by 2021.

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