India is dwelling to more than 450 agritech startups, thriving at a rate of 25% year-on-year, according to a Nasscom 2019 report. Agritech proceeds to see gust and startups such as Clover. Clover is a Bengaluru-based agritech platform that functions with farmers across India and markets greenhouse-grown produce through business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) channels. Clover Ventures was started by adolescence friends Avinash BR, Gururaj Rao, Arvind Murali, and Santhosh Narasipura, who grew up in Bengaluru.
As a demand-led startup, it nourishes according to ‘specific and predictable client demands’ from greenhouses built around urban consumption zones. The company claims that it provides full-stack agronomy solutions to help meet farmers’ needs end-to-end.
Clover Fixes the Supply Chain
Clover collaborates with small farm holders, and grades, packages, and sells their bounty quality, greenhouse-grown fresh produce — lettuce, basil, spinach, coriander, zucchini, beans, cauliflower, etc. — through B2B and B2C channels. Farmers in Clover’s hierarchy commonly hold one to two acres of farmland, where demand-led cultivation is done using its full-stack agronomy solutions, consumption prognosis and traceability, and end-to-end farm management services.
The startup practically organises the vast number of scattered greenhouse farmers in the country, steers standardisation across yields, enhances productivity, curtails wastage of perishable produce, and ensures consistency for end consumers.
About the Business Model
Clover’s business model focuses on demand-led cultivation, a managed farm network, and full-stack agronomy. The managed farm system of greenhouses is based in peri-urban and rural areas surrounding urban consumption zones, thereby ensuring freshness and reducing spoilage.
“Our business model involves giving free agronomy service, ensuring higher yields and productivity from the farmer and buying all the products that we’ve asked them to grow. Over the past 24-odd months, we’ve seen farmers increase their yield anywhere from one-and-a-half to four times the yields that they were getting without our intervention. The added benefit is also lesser wastage due to committed market access. We’ve seen farmers’ incomes go up by 30 per cent to 50 percent by working with us,” says Avinash BR.
The COVID-19 pandemic has squeezed the startup hard. They were serving hotels, retailers, and restaurants before the COVID-19 crisis and did have a reliable demand. Later, they came up with a B2C model reaching out to the Kirana stores and apartment complexes. Furthermore, they plan a website and app for consumers to order directly.
Switching to B2C is not easy. The B2B sales team had to be reassigned, and new systems were built. Even during the lockdown, the startup ensured that all the farm produce was picked up and allocated in Bangalore.
Funding and Competition
Back in 2018, Clover received seed capital of $1.2 million from Accel and Mayfield while in stealth mode in 2018. This year, it has raised two rounds of funding to chart out the B2C roadmap.
In May, it received Rs 7 crore in debt funding from Alteria Capital. Before that, in February, the startup raised Rs 39 crore ($5.5 million) in a Series A round from Omnivore (an agritech-focused fund). Clover intends to use the capital to scale up its B2C operations, enter modern metro markets, grow its farm network, and ramp up its team across districts. Clover competes with the likes of Ninjacart, Jumbotail, FnV Farms, Freshfalsabzi, Farmpal, Harabaag, SuperZop, and others, who’re looking to organize nearly 21 million farmers across the country.