The agriculture sector plays a crucial role in the economy of India. It not only contributes to about 16% of India’s GDP but also provides a livelihood for over 60% of the nation’s households. India currently hosts over 450 agritech startups growing at 25% year-on-year in the agri-tech segment and the sector has received more than $248 million funding in the first six months of 2019.
With such a vision, a Chennai-based AI agritech startup called WayCool Foods & Products is utilising artificial intelligence and machine learning to fulfil customer requirements as well as reducing food wastage and production costs.
Founded in July 2015 by Karthik Jayaraman and Sanjay Dasari, AI agritech startup WayCool is a food distribution company which sources its products directly from the farmers through a technology-enabled, mechanized, and partially automated supply chain. The company leverages multiple distribution channels to supply its product portfolio such as fresh produce (fruits and vegetables), rice, dal, maida, and other value-added products to both businesses and end consumers.
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Raised two rounds of institutional funding to date, WayCool started off as a small company based in Chennai, focused on bringing fresh produce directly from farms to end-users and customers. Currently, the company deals with food products across fresh produce, staples, dairy, and packaged products, handling over 3,000 SKUs, delivering to 130+ towns across Southern India. More than 50% of its raw produce is directly sourced from small-hold farmers.
Use of AI/ML
According to Dasari, the majority of AI and ML tools in use are focused on demand forecasting, and supply planning to ensure that the customer requirements are fulfilled as well as reducing the food wastage and overall production costs. The company also invests in price forecasting, with IT tools that analyse weather patterns, local market supplies, price trends, etc. At present, there are many projects which are in the pilot stage that will be using data captured through the entire supply chain to drive decision making.
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Talking about the technology side, Dasari replied that On top of the transaction processing platform, WayCool has built a portfolio of apps, which are all being rolled into a platform called RAPID. RAPID includes farmer-facing applications such as MySoil, Farm Management systems, MyPrice, MyTransactions, supply chain applications such as Forecasting and planning, Warehouse management system, Digital Quality platform and logistics optimisation platform, customer-facing applications such as order capture, tracking and supply performance measurement to ensure that the information flow is streamlined in both directions and provide the base data for advanced analytics that will help streamline the process further.
The company is actively looking for people who are excited about solving problems at scale are great fits for a company like WayCool. The candidates must display strong decision-making skills and analytical capabilities.
Talking about the future roadmap, Dasari said that the company will continue to increase efficiency and reduce information asymmetry in the supply chain. He added, “We are also quite clear that while we scale rapidly across Southern, Central and Western India, we will work with stakeholders who are aligned with us in thinking– be they clients, suppliers, employees or partners.”