Ninjacart connect farmers directly with retailers in India; raises US$5.5M from Accel, Tazo Son, others

Sainul Abudheen

Ninjacart claims it helps over 1,000 farmers to sell more than 80 vegetables and fruits every day to 500-plus retailers and restaurants in Bangalore

The Ninjacart founding team

Ninjacart, an online B2B marketplace that connects farmers and brands to retailers in India, has raised US$5.5 million in a new round of financing from existing investor Accel Partners and Nandan Nilekani’s NRJN Trust.

Also joining the round are Mistletoe, a company owned by Taizo Son (brother of SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son), besides Qualcomm Ventures and Japan’s M&S Partners (both had participated in its Series A round).

The Bangalore-based startup will primarily use the funds to expand team and invest in supply chain automation, technology and data science.

In March last year, Ninjacart received US$3 million in its Series A round of funding led by Accel Partners.

Ninjacart was founded in May 2015 by Thirukumaran Nagarajan, Kartheeswaran KK, Sharath Loganathan, Ashutosh Vikram, Sachin P Jose, Vasudevan Chinnathambi. They worked in different capacities at companies such as Taxiforsure, Ola and Commonfloor.

Also Read: This startup wants to provide organic food, help farmers get fair deals and organise farm visits

Ninjacart helps over 1,000 farmers to sell more than 80 vegetables and fruits every day to 500-plus retailers and restaurants in Bangalore. Its team picks up the produce from farmer’s fields and delivers it to the doorstep of businesses. The company claims it is poised to grow exponentially in the next six months with its cash and carry model and targets to serve over 2,000 businesses.

“Though we have very high demand for our service from both farmers and businesses, in the last one year, we relentlessly focused on building a cost efficient, reliable and scalable supply chain that can handle 300-plus tons a day. We overhauled our entire organisation and systems keeping cost and speed at the centre. Today, we move over 60 tons of produce a day from farm to store in less than 14 hours at a cost lower than traditional supply chains,” said CEO Nagarajan.

Ninjacart started off as an on-demand grocery delivery company, but soon realised that the back-end supply chain of fruits and vegetables is highly inefficient and broken. To solve a bigger problem, it pivoted to an end-to-end B2B agri marketing platform.

Today, Ninjacart has a team of 170-plus people.

Traditionally, due to marginal farming, poor logistics and lack of market information, numerous middlemen were involved in getting the produce from farm to store. As a result, the farmer gets one third of what the end consumer pays. Ninjacart solves this problem by enabling farmers to sell directly to businesses, thereby maximising farmer’s income. In certain villages, farmers have seen their income almost double in the last one year, said the company.

Ninjacart also ensures farmers get their payment immediately into their bank account without any commission or logistics fee. This has helped farmers avoid borrowing money from ‘Mandis’, who hold their produce captive and pay low prices or from local money lenders, who charge exorbitant interest.

“Ninjacart aims to solve a very neglected problem specific to India. The team’s strong technology-first thinking enables the fruits and vegetables supply chain to be extremely cost efficient, thus improving farmer earnings and living standards. Despite limited cold chain facilities in India, the team has built a just-in-time logistics system, with which they are able to get the produce from farm to stores in less than 14 hours,” said Nilekani.

Also Read: BigHaat secures funding to connect farmers directly with seed suppliers in India

Founded in 2013 by Taizo Son, Mistletoe is an organisation comprised of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, and visionaries who share the lofty ambition of addressing the problems humanity faces in the near and long-term future.

M&S Partners provides advisory services for finance, IPO, M&A, operations, marketing, business development and global business expansion. Its founder and CEO Hiro Mashita advises newly set-up and growth stage companies in Japan, China, Singapore and other Asian countries.

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