Startup Interview Series – NaPanta

The agri-tech digital company that is revolutionizing the agrarian marketplace with 145,000+ farmers across AP & Telangana subscribed to their digital platform within 22 months of their operations. Startup Dunya in conversation with socialpreneur, Naveen Kumar Velpula, Founder & CEO, NaPanta promoted by FarmGreen Agritech India Pvt. Ltd.

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NaPanta is a one-stop digital platform where farmers pan-India can access in their regional language, real-time market prices, crop management techniques, crop insurance, cold storage services, and pest & disease management information.

When did you start Napanta?
We launched our digital application on June 2, 2017, simultaneously across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

What is the service you are offering?
NaPanta is a digital platform to address the inefficiencies in pre-harvest management for residue-free agricultural produce with superior market linkages across villages. Currently, we are having 145,000 farmers on board. We are one of the fastest growing digital-based agricultural companies in India.

“On our digital platform, NaPanta, farmers have an average of 1.0 million interactions per month.”

Can you share more details about your app?
Our native language supported mobile application has a range of services including buy, sell and rental of agricultural equipment. We also have an online market-place and an e-commerce platform for farmers. Our team is also working on real-time agriculture-based analytics.

The NaPanta Android Mobile App covers complete pest and disease management details for over 120+ crops with 400+ chemical formulates, and their detailed usage on each crop and each pest.

We have also extended our services by providing 3000+ pesticide products supplied in the market by 26+ companies like Bayer and Tata Rallis. A farmer can compare and choose the best-suited pesticide product among the pool of products offered by various companies.

How would you describe your relationship with farmers?

“We want farmers to think of us as their close friend, their ‘nestamu’, who is always available to help them at just the click of a button.”

Any new partnerships that you would like to share with us?
We have recently collaborated with State Bank of India and a General Insurance company who is into farm insurance. As agreed upon by both parties, whatever the farmer requirements in terms of advisory and other value-added services, both the platforms will redirect them to the NaPanta platform.

“Both these collaborations will help NaPanta reach out to 1.0-2.0 million farmers in the next one year’s time.”

This is huge in terms of the number of farmers we will be able to support and impact with our various agriculture-based services.

Also read – Startup Interview Series – Xeno

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Initially, it was not easy to convince farmers and agricultural officials on the benefits of adopting digital platform services for farming. However, things have changed now. Farmers have started to slowly adopt digital services in the agricultural segment too.

Can you share a few highlights of your recent successes?
We have been called to demonstrate our digital platform for the Maharashtra Government. This was based on the government’s plan to implement the platform in the Marathi language across the entire state so as to benefit all the state’s farmers. They would find it easier to access a digital platform in the regional language.

With the information available on NaPanta’s App, there is an increased awareness of the various benefits available to a farmer. Recently, a couple of young farmers voluntarily reached out to officials about availing subsidies and other related information. This was not known to them earlier. This reiterates our belief that we are on the right track.

Any awards and recognition that you can share with us?
We are honored with several awards and recognition for our committed efforts in agriculture-based activities.

  • Winner of prestigious HMTV Business Excellence Award – 2019 as Best Agri/Food Processing company(startup) from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  • Received Finalist award for Maharashtra Startup Fest 2019 in the Agriculture domain.
  • Represented National Conference on “Digital Agriculture in India” organized by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Chennai on December 20,  2018.
  • Shortlisted for South Asia 2018 “MBillionth” award under Agriculture & Environment Category. Facilitation ceremony was held on October 3, 2018, at New Delhi.
  • Facilitated as “Social Business Torch Bearer” for India by ReTHINK INDIA, Social Business Forum 2018 held at SCOPE Convention Centre, New Delhi on November 20, 2018.
  • Received Finalist award from HYSEA – 2018 under Social Impact Category on July 27, 2018.
    Featured in Economic Times for our innovations in Digital Agricultural Platform services for the welfare of farmers on December 9, 2018.

Also Read: Startup Interview Series – Pesto Tech

Any high-impact partnerships in the recent past?
We have collaborated with several NGO’s, supported Government initiatives as well as for specific projects to providing farmers services. Some of our more recent collaborations are:

  • Working with Berkely Haas on AP Smart Village Project. With the help of this project, NaPanta is providing farmer services in 400 villages across Andhra Pradesh for sustainable farming activity.
  • Working with East Godavari District Collector (Andhra Pradesh) to disseminate the latest Integrated Pest Management practices to farmers in the district to control crop input cost and the increased crop yield with the help of the District Agriculture Division of East Godavari.
  • Dr. Reddy’s Foundation has approved us as their official digital agricultural platform to provide services to their farmer-based CSR Initiative, “MITRA’s” Program across AP and Telangana.
  • Associated with Bala Vikasa International Center (BVIC) to provide sustainable farming practices to their 4,000 adopted villages in AP and Telangana.

How big is your current team?
We are a 4-member team now and looking forward to expanding by another 15 members in a couple of months from now. Over the last few months, we have started to receive a series of opportunities from various players. This has given us the confidence to move ahead with our hiring process.

What was your ‘aha’ moment?
This was when we received a call from a senior IAS Officer from the Maharashtra Government to explore our digital platform for providing services for Maharashtra farmers. An equally happy moment was when we received a mail from the Commissioner from Karnataka Government to take up a farmer-relevant value chain development project. We have been a little more than lucky at NaPanta. We had many such ‘aha’ moments :-).

What is the magic sauce that keeps you going?
It is our firm commitment to address the critical issues in the agricultural ecosystem. The highly encouraging response we are receiving from core farmers is what keeps up going. It is like receiving substantial investment from VCs :-).

Where do you see yourself 3 years from now?
We are currently working on rolling out our platform across 8 Northern and Southern states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamilnadu over the next 12-24 months. We are also aiming to be the major platform for all relevant services in the agri-eco-system for India.

Whatever may be the kind of services needed by a farmer, we hope to provide complete solutions for their requirements on our digital platform, NaPanta.

Also read: Changemakers Interview Series – Bihar Entrepreneurs Association

What stage of funding is your company in?
We are a bootstrapped company. I received some financial help from my family and friends in the early stages. This helped me to focus better on building my product. We are now looking to raise capital to achieve our vision for our company, which is in line with the huge and untapped scope for agri-business in India.

What kind of support system will help launch your company to the next level?
For any startup to grow, they need substantial aid in all the departments – marketing, tech, funding, sales, etc. However, in an agricultural vertical, we additionally need Government support. This is critical to reach farmers in a village so we can provide them empowering and sustainable help.

Your advice to others who plan to embark on their startup journey?
Find out a genuine problem, use common sense to resolve it. Reach your users as early as possible. Get their validation and then, start building on scale. Success will follow you, you don’t have to run after success!

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