Ravi emphasised, “The real image of success, for us, would be when a farmer in any corner of the world would know what kind of crop to cultivate, uses technology efficiently, becomes successful financially, produces the best product for the consumption of the world and is environmentally sensitive. This very idea of taking technology to the grassroots of Agricultural footprints drives me and my team passionately.”
In 2020, Ravi Soni, Founder and CEO, Grus & Grade incepted his brainchild technology company in the Agri-Fintech market with the roots of its founding team in IIM Indore, IIT Delhi, and Delhi University. With 100+ years of experience of the founding team in agriculture, product design, product launches and market development across the globe, G&G was incubated at Aspire Bionest, University of Hyderabad.
G&G ideated in early 2019 as three college friends, pursuing executive MBA in IIM Indore, started exploring the opportunities in industry 4.0 solutions to SMEs at an affordable price. They gained experience by undertaking a few projects for some leading SMEs in Maharashtra. Ideally, the SME market had suffered due to demonetization as well as the introduction of GST. The major bottleneck was the mindset to change.
After aggressive business development efforts, they received a project in North Karnataka at MRN Group (Nirani Group). They delivered a plan but lacked funds. However, beating one of the big fours’ to it, G&G grabbed a consulting assignment at Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Harvest Plus to conduct a feasibility study for ‘Digitalization of Agri Value Chain for commercialization of biofortified food in six states in India.’ This study gave them a deep understanding of the entire problem matrix, solution matrix as well as scalability and sustainability matrix.
Word of mouth followed as customer referrals started due to quality solutions delivered to GAIN and Harvest Plus. This led to ideation and creation of UpajGuru and creation of positive brand equity in consulting space and subsequently closed consulting projects, developing and implementing a tech-based solution for National Procurement Facility in Nigeria, development of Blockchain-based solution for FPOs by the University of Hyderabad, and digitalization strategy for Star Health and Allied Insurance.
G&G offers an end-to-end platform for Farmers & Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO) using Blockchain, Advanced AI for farm management in form of a suite of services delivered through on-ground support and a web-based app, G&G integrate the entire supply chain on a blockchain-based platform offering including a reduction in input supplies/service cost through aggregation, better yield per hectare through precision farming through MyFarm (AI-enabled precision farming solution), and better pricing power enabled by TruOrigin (Hyperledger based Traceability Solution).
G&G product allows comprehensive traceability of Agri commodities (farm to fork) using blockchain allowing commercialization of nutritionally enhanced food, naturally or organically produced crop, etc. This creates trust and transparency for the export of Agri produce into the international market ensuring higher price realization by farmers, greater yield and earning per acre for the farmers, lower input costs and access to markets.
With a wider market reach through MyMandi (Innovative And Intuitive Marketplace), they are also enabling cheaper and easier finance availability through SmartFin (Blockchain-based Fintech solution). The platform also offers both pre-harvest and post-harvest finance to the farmers (approval TAT of 1 min) for procurement of input farm materials, rental expenses for farm equipment as well as labour payment. The post-harvest credit is supported through an integrated warehouse finance facility built over a blockchain platform. Blockchain at the end of the value chain ensures auto-execution of smart contracts for repayment of all credits taken by the farmers, once the Agri produce is sold post-harvest.
Aggregated execution, individualistic gains: Farmers being at the centre of the ecosystem will be rewarded through the redistribution of the crypto tokens. An advanced AI-enabled farm advisory empowers farmers with timely access to information. The channel of distribution for the entire project is through FPOs/FPCs/NGOs and Micro-Entrepreneurs at the village level.
They are driven to increase the efficiency of the Agri supply chain and eliminate the information gaps, thus unlocking hidden values and reducing, even eliminating in some cases, the arbitrages and commissions. Their platform will redistribute these gains amongst the stakeholders in the Agri Value chain through crypto tokens. This will ensure the sustainability and scalability of the project.
These times taught G&G team the importance of being operationally profitable which they intend to embed in their DNA. They continue to bid for new projects to have a continuous source of funds for their core project implementation. With the covid situation improving, the future possibilities are much brighter.
The undying zeal, holistic insights of the founders, G&G’s unique Six-D approach methodology, Creative Leadership Team and their vast experience with various industries helped them get the projects which were (some are in the process of completion) completed successfully and helped them sustain.
With a vision to be the ‘Best place to work at’, they personify the values of uncompromising integrity and ethics. Being frugal innovators targeting the bottom of the Pyramid, ‘The Jugaad Paradigm of Success’ is core to G&G.
They envision inculcating a habit of ‘Continuous Research & Development’ to enhance Team Spirit with compassion, empathy, transparency and giving back to society. They view this UPAJ of Ideas, Innovation, Team, Temperament, Technology, Value and Vision as their proudest milestone, and are moving one step closer to the vision to become the world’s top Agri-Fintech Company in the next five years.
“We started with nothing, and today we have employed more than 50 people directly and indirectly. We have a technology that will change the landscape of agriculture and lives of farmers,” Ravi shared.
“At present, I primarily focus on strategizing the future business plans, collaborating with partners, channel development in rural areas for mass penetration of our product as well as building the architectural framework for the technological development and innovation.
I even devote some time to consultancy projects to ensure regular cash flow during our product development and implementation phase. We plan to go to investors after our first pilot is completed.” - Ravi
Grus and Grade solution architecture has an inbuilt feature to redistribute the value (give back) to those who own it the most which crypto tokens ensures the same through measurable and tangible ways. With a sustainable business practice that ensures a greener planet, they are driven to reduce the carbon footprint, improve green coverage, and remotivate society towards agricultural best practices.
“Grus and Grade envision becoming the go-to platform for all/any agriculture-related needs to farmers across the globe. G&G will use the latest tech-enabled solutions for improving farmer’s income, increasing productivity, and reducing the layers in the Agri value chain,” shared Ravi.