Grus & Grade Private Limited

Revolutionising The Agricultural Realm With Their Technology-Based Platform ‘UPAJGURU’
Ravi Soni

Ravi Soni

MD & CEO - Grus & Grade Private Limited

Grus & Grade, a Bangalore-based AgriTech cum Fintech Startup founded by the Alumnus of IIM Indore, IIIT Delhi and Delhi School of Economics, is incubated at India’s best Incubation Centres, viz. ‘Apire BioNEST’ under the University of Hyderabad and APIARY – Centre of Excellence in Blockchain Technology, STPI Gurugram under MieTY, GoI.

Although incorporated during the peak of covid-19, in May 2020, the company scaled its operations in six states in India and has a network of more than 50 Farmer Producer Companies, hundreds of micro-entrepreneurs, 500 traders and wholesalers, and more than 20,000 farmers in India.

Mission, Vision & Values

Grus & Grade envisions being one of the world’s leading technologies driven startup that transforms the way people perceive and practices agriculture across the globe and integrates the hyperlocal supply chain with a super global sustainable supply chain, enabling the entire Agri value chain with a digital infrastructure on blockchain platform that is completely transparent, traceable and trustworthy.

The next few year’s mission for Grus & Grade is to integrate the Agri value chain with a network of web3 using blockchain technology, enable transparency and trust in data using a series of sensors and IoTs across the value chain and predict the market need/demand using advanced AI/ML tools.

Motivated by the core principles to ‘Give Back’ and ‘Innovate’ for a sustainable world, the electric team at Grus & Grade is focused on ensuring the quality of food produced and distributed across the agri value chain by implementing precision agriculture, automation in supply chain using smart-contracts and ensure complete transparency of information and transaction flows.

The platform also enables small holder farmers, processors, retailers and FMCG access to finance, automation in credit underwriting and borrower scoring based on future cash flows through predictive technology.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Ravi Soni</p></div>
Sinhoi Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd.

The Tale Of Inception

Ravi Soni, the founder and director of Grus & Grade, has 15+ years of experience working in the State Bank of India. In 2012, when he was assigned to rural Shimla, he encountered a common problem with the farmers who used to transact with the bank.

Most farmers used to sell their apples at local Mandis but sometimes could not get paid for more than 3-4 years. Mr Ravi shares,

“During those days, I travelled extensively and educated farmers in rural areas on the marketing and distribution of their produce. Being an unorganised sector, farmers’ aggregation and bargaining power were very low, with no exposure to any data-enabled technology platform. There was a complete lack of transparency in the sale transaction. This made me think about doing something different for these rural households.”

After completing his MBA from IIM Indore in 2019, Ravi quit the bank and researched extensively in rural areas of more than six states in India. With a novel vision in mind, he built a committed team with a common vision to ‘Give Back’ to those who deserved the most.

Today, Grus & Grade stands strong with India’s best talent pool in Blockchain technology, machine learning and the application of IoT in agriculture. They have integrated the supply chain using data as a foundation tool and created a distribution channel that is spread across the Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in 8 states in India.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Ravi Soni</p></div>
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Grus & Grade’s Core Team

  • Ravi Soni, MD and CEO A graduate of IIM Indore with 15+ years of experience working with SBI.

  • Anuj Garg, CTO PhD from IIIT Delhi, 20+ years of experience in the IT industry with multiple patents in Blockchain.

  • Nitya Nand Deepak, COO M.Phil from Delhi School of Economics, 20+ years of experience in different industries, and for the past 6 years, had started his own Seed company in Bihar.

  • Sapna Shimikiri, CHRO MBA Finance, a driving force in Grus and Grade’s growth journey with her passion, commitment and girth.

  • Praveen Sinha, Lead Technology in Data Science B.Tech (CS), 16+ experience in Big Data and machine learning.

  • Ashwini Patil Based in Mauritius, driving the export potential of technology and agri-produce in African countries.

UPAJGURU- An Agri Fintech Platform

‘UPAJGURU’ stands for quality, consistency, and affordability, ensuring complete trust, transparency, and traceability using blockchain technology for all the Agri commodities produces and distributed across the supply chain with automation of credit flow and cash flow and assess flow across the agri-value chain.

It caters to different target segments integrating farmers, farmer producer companies, input suppliers, buyers and financial institutions over a distributed ledger and mutually independent nodes.

For the first target segment, smallholder farmers and farmer-producer companies have ‘UPAJGURU’ helps locate an appropriate market during the peak supply season that offers the best prices.

Utilising an advanced algorithm based on real-time data collected from various markets across the country and AI, UPAJGURU aggregates farm produces and distributes it to the market that offers the best prices.

The target segment also benefits from an array of IoT devices used across the farmland to improve crop productivity while mitigating adversities during the crop cycle.

Advanced forecasting and price sensitivity reports help the producers choose a crop based on insights received through the ‘UPAJGURU’ platform. It also integrates all ‘Kiranas’ and ‘Fruit Vendors’ across the country to aggregate the demand and supply them with minimal intermediation.

FMCG companies, Food Processors and Distributors, the second target audience, UPAJGURU provides an advanced forecast of crops under production, complete traceability of Agri-produces that are supplied across the supply chain and automation of payment using smart contracts over the blockchain platform.

Banks and financial institutions, the third target audience, get a completely automated platform with authenticated KYC over the blockchain ledger with a secured hash that protects data privacy. The inbuilt smart contracts automate loan processing, disbursement, repayment, and tracking.

Within just six months of operation, UPAJGURU has a network of more than fifty thousand farmers. The team is expecting a 5 lakh farmers network within the next year.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Ravi Soni</p></div>
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Milestones Along The Journey

“The ideal success will be when every farmer and FPO in the county starts using and recommending the power and utility of the UPAJGURU Platform when they reasonably and quantifiably perceive the actual difference in the level of income and when it enables the Agri value chain with a sustainable business model.”

Mr Ravi

Some of the recognitions earned by Grus & Grade over the years are

  • Recognised as one of the best agri tech startups by India 500 Startup and the best Agri Tech startup by CEO Magazine in 2022.

  • World Marketing Congress facilitated Ravi Soni with ‘Leading CEO with Marketing Orientation’.

  • In January 2023, the company was one of the top 33 Startups selected to participate in Silicon Valley, US, under ‘Startup Initiative Building the Next Unicorn’ by the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) and STPI under MiETY, GoI.

Future Outlook

According to Mr Ravi, “Challenges are a consistent source of motivation, new learning, and innovation. Every challenge is a hope for new opportunities, and we all need to be focused and keep a positive temperament.”

Aiming to improve the quality and maintain consistency in the quality of products across the value chain with the application of Sensors and IoTs for data collection and training the model with image processing tools.

The team is focused on creating a robust distribution network across the country, becoming a premium brand for fresh fruits, and building a network of retailers and vendors who own the UPAJGURU brand with a sense of pride.

Advising young entrepreneurs, Mr Ravi shares,

"Focus, commitment, persistence and consistency in efforts, along with a strong motivation to live your dream, are critical to success for any entrepreneur.”

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Ravi Soni</p></div>
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