An MBA graduate from IIM-A, Siddhartha has worked in the agriculture and rural markets in strong leadership positions for global companies. In his current role of an entrepreneur he aims to build a commercially successful agribusiness along with following his passion for creating a large scale, sustainable social impact. His personal motto is, ‘only when the stakeholders succeed, we succeed’.
Agriculture is the source of livelihoods for 130 Million Indian farmers, contributing to around 16 percent of the country’s GDP. Many Indian entrepreneurs have taken up the challenge to work in the agriculture sector with an objective to bring about transformational changes. Given the complexities of working in rural, the vagaries of weather, and low awareness levels, a lot of work needs to be done to improve the condition of farmers. Back in 2004, during his B-School, Siddhartha decided to work in Agriculture and did his summer internship in world’s largest Agri-business MNC. In 2005 he joined the company. Having spent close to 14 years working in the sector, he is now building tech products that will not just add value to the farming community but to the complete ecosystem around the farmers. It helps fuel his mission he sees himself as a passionate advocate to the farmers’ cause. He is Co-founder & CEO of DestaGlobal since 2017.
The food and agricultural entrepreneurs are finding ways to revolutionize the entire food chain market by incorporating advanced technologies. Please brief the story that made you look into this niche space as an entrepreneur.
Ron Boehm and Nishant Banore started DestaGlobal to add value to the farming community. Today, we have a platform which is not just solving problems for the farmers, but also adding value to the Agri input manufacturers and retailers. Our m-commerce mobile app helps dealers order products from hundreds of manufacturers and run schemes on products, thereby promoting the shop to farmers in nearby villages. The farmers can login to the app to get the best of
deals on quality products available at dealers near them. Since both the manufacturers and dealers run schemes for farmers, close to 13,000 such deals are live on the farmer’s app today.
Farming is not seen as a lucrative profession these days and DestaGlobal wants to change this perception.
Agriculture practice in India is transforming as entrepreneurs are entering the fray and commodities turning into value-added products. Having said that, what particularly moved you to sow the idea for DestaGlobal?
I have handled the Seed portfolio for the MNC, so I have experienced the challenges faced by an Agri-input manufacturer. I have spent years trying to solve the demand, production, distribution and price related challenges. I also understand the business problems a retailer has to solve. I also know that a retailer is one of the most important stakeholders. If value addition to the farmer is the need of the hour, it can only happen with the help of retailers. When we created the platform, we made sure to put the years of learning into it. And today our connected platform, is helping farmers make decisions based on the data and hence go about their daily work as a businessman would.
Tenacity is a quality expected from every entrepreneur
We were a B2B e-commerce company bringing retailers and input manufacturers on one platform as buyers and sellers. We had to have a better engagement model with the retailers as they had started to use to buy only when our prices were lower than the market. Though the manufacturer saw potential in our e-commerce, they were not pleased as the sales had dipped. And because our model is B2B, the farmer was not directly a part of the platform.
To solve the challenges aforementioned, we did a pivot and built tech solutions to connect all the three stakeholders. The biggest challenge was to make sure to add value to each of the three. Beginning with the conceptualizing, to developing mobile apps for rural end users, to executing the plans on the ground, each had its
own set of challenges. Backed with our industry expertise and the talented team of developers, we developed the tech products in-house and in a record time.
While observing the industry, what do you perceive as an untouched space that aspiring agriculture entrepreneurs should focus on?
We have barely scratched the surface. The potential is limitless. To be successful, collaboration is the key, but unfortunately it is missing in the industry today. Every entrepreneur is working to solve part of the puzzle. Given that the agriculture industry is very complex and has multiple facets to its problems, working to solve part of the puzzle may not work. All Agri entrepreneurs, big companies, the government, channel partners must work in sync to redefine the farming industry.
What advice would you give to people who take up a certain job position just for the sake of getting a better opportunity later?
We all have worked in jobs which we did not like and most probably it was because we made a bad decision. But I believe that one needs to take up a job only when she/ he is convinced about it. We spend most of our life working, so we need to be very careful about choosing the space. One needs to find meaning and passion in their current job - could be because on relates with the goal of the company or the product that is being built, or it may be as simple as the chance to create an amazing marketing campaign. Moreover, our job gives us earning, ability to solve challenges, shapes our personality and helps us become better professionals and individuals – so one needs to have loyalty to the workplace.
Given your experience in the agri inputs business, what advice/opinion would you give to the budding entrepreneurs?
Tenacity is a quality expected from every entrepreneur. Long hours of hard work many a times yield little or no results, and that could be a big demotivator. Yet, one need to march forward doing what one believes to be the right things, time and again. Since it is tough to setup business in the agriculture industry, one has to be doubly sure that the idea is tested to be addressing an unmet need, that there is a business model and the financial projections make business sense. And after having vetted the idea, it might still fail due to bad execution. So execution needs to be one of the top most parts of the deal. Since one cannot do it alone, invest in getting the right people by your side.
Domain: Agri e-commerce