Sep 17, 2019
With Farming in Their DNA, These Tech Entrepreneurs Are Using Data to Change the Future of Agriculture
On the surface, the industries of farming and finance couldn’t look any more different.
Sachin Shende, with farming in his blood and degrees in agricultural engineering and computational hydraulics, begs to differ. While working as a quantitative developer in London’s asset management sector, he started noticing the similarities between the fields.
“The concept of managing an asset and risk/return profile on the asset is same,” Sachin says. “However, contrary to the financial industry, agricultural industry lacks availability of data feeds and integrated software platform used for the decision making.”
Sachin is one of the co-founders of KisanHub, a software-as-a-service platform for the agri-food industry. The platform connects the “farm to factory gate” part of the supply chain, and is aimed at food and beverage enterprises who procure quality crops to make products for consumers.
Giles Barker, Sachin’s co-founder, has a family background in farming as well. When the two met at Cambridge’s Judge Business School, Giles told Sachin how his grandfather used pencil and paper to collect weather data and analyze it while he was a professor at the Cambridge School of Agriculture. “Our ideas were shaped through our personal journeys and backgrounds. We started KisanHub to optimize agriculture using software and data,” Sachin says.
The KisanHub platform gives food and beverage companies a direct connection to farmers, allows for accurate data capturing, and provides data analytics and predictive tools to empower data-driven decisions. It creates complete traceability and helps farmers grow crops sustainably. “The holy grail is really to provide the supply chain intelligence — information on the quantity and quality of the crops grown by farmers,” Sachin explains.
The Cambridge, UK-based company had about 3,500 users on the platform when a venture capitalist told them about 100+ Accelerator — a recently launched sustainability accelerator powered by Anheuser-Busch InBev and Highline Beta. KisanHub joined the inaugural cohort.
The accelerator gives startups with leading-edge sustainability solutions an expedited path to a commercial deal with AB InBev, helping the international beverage company meet its 2025 sustainability goals. “100+ is unique,” Sachin says. “Because of this program we got an opportunity to address one of the sustainability challenges of AB InBev using our software platform.”
Through the accelerator, KisanHub has been able to roll out its platform to over 1,000 farmers and 10 agronomists in northwest India, home to AB InBev malting barley growing operations. The connectivity provided by KisanHub will help AB InBev’s own agronomy team empower local farmers to improve self-sufficiency, productivity, and environmental performance.
The experience of working together has been valuable for both companies.
“The support on the ground from the AB InBev team was just incredible and it was a satisfying experience to work with such a passionate, motivated, and driven team,” Sachin says. “Our key objective is to help AB InBev achieve their Smart Agriculture goal to make 100% of their farmers skilled, connected, and financially empowered by 2024 — a year before their own timeline of 2025.”