The agriculture sector is one of the biggest contributors to the Indian economy. It is still woefully fragmented and unorganized. The scope for building a seamless ecosystem in the agri-technology space is humongous. The start-up community has seen a lot of traction in this sector, and India is home to over 450 agri-tech initiatives. The growth is exponential to the tune of over 25% YOY.
The highly volatile nature and seasonal aspect of the business has many challenges for the entrepreneurs in the initial handholding stage. The rates for success multiply when the start-up gets the opportunity to be incubated in a Technology Business Incubator. It will attract strong mentorship in the form of corporate leaders who drive smart market insights and consumer surveys that can make a huge difference.
The technology-based incubator can offer crucial support in the legal, financial planning, intellectual and property rights through its expertise or via its network support. The right Technology incubators can help stress test the go-to-market strategies and gain access to high-value customers. The Business planning and training assistance are of immense value in the initial phase when the start-up is struggling to find its feet in the open market. Market linkages and networks are an essential part of any agribusiness becoming sustainable. Technology incubators can use its network to bolster the logistics and storage needs of the early-stage ventures.
Technology incubators are fundamental in raising capital, pitch refinement, and obtaining statutory Government approvals. Technology and knowledge-driven start-ups often find Technology incubators integral to their dissemination of product technologies and ideation. The input in the Research and Development technology segment ensures the survival and stability of these ventures. A feasible product development ecosystem from the very beginning under the able guidance of the mentors can be the palpable difference between failure and success.
The host of services that incubators can procure or provide to Agri-preneurs includes using the premises of the host institute, along with basic facilities like communication, computers, cafeteria and conference spaces. This reduces initial costs and can help the initiative get the jump start it needs to thrive in the challenging market scenario prevalent today. The incubator is committed to nurturing the start-up for 2-3 years. A word of caution, though, not all ventures can succeed in the harsh and competitive market environment.
Most agri-preneurs need knowledge dissemination in the Government E-tendering processes. The incubator is of immense help in facilitating the transfer of technology and knowledge and helps snag the initial B2B contracts that can start the journey towards success. The availability of multiple value-added services under one roof makes the task easier all around.
Last but not least, the in-depth knowledge and experience that the mentors bring into the start-up ecosystem are invaluable. These seasoned veterans have a 360-degree view of how the market operates, a secure network, and an understanding of the common mistakes that agri-preneurs should avoid. This, in itself, can save the start-up precious time and resources that can be put to good use in other areas.
The Technology incubator culture is ideal for fostering the culture of entrepreneurship to generate robust business and wealth. The idea is to build a sustainable venture in the agriculture space that can reduce wastage, improve yields, and create a dynamic and organized business structure. The incubators can help an initiative find its feet and guide it through stormy waters in the beginning by providing infrastructure, finance, and mentorship. The aim is to reach projected milestones to build self-employment and entrepreneurial zeal.
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Dr Manisha Acharya is a part of the AIM Writers Programme. She is the CEO of a noted tech business incubator and accelerator.