Financial professional Rohan Kulkarni never imagined himself to be involved in the agriculture sector. That status quo changed upon his several years of relocating to different workplaces, as he found himself in the inevitable position of missing home and family. But then, the idea of fresh fruits and vegetables came to him as a grounding aspect that provided comfort from being in another place.
Alongside this piqued interest, Rohan decided to observe the market of that very sector, only to notice a peculiarity in the market. Upon closer analysis, he found a volatility in prices stemming from misrepresented values being placed on crops. It was to his discovery that farmers were being taken advantage of by middlemen who had the power to distort the market to their benefit.
Even more unusual was the fact that even with higher level technology or higher volumes, a mismatch still existed that created artificial prices that were nowhere close to their true values. From direct observation, Rohan found that the segment was also very unorganized with farmers following a herd mentality of growing whatever seemed to create large yields for the year. When there is too much supply, the prices decrease and the incomes of farmers suffer in the end.
From such mismanagement and his longing for fresh produce, Rohan gained inspiration to help alleviate the markets by creating Freshboxx Ventures to educate the farmers while eliminating the parasitic middleman. His venture idea took off after winning the 2015 Deshpande Foundation’s, Sandbox Startups Challenge where he received startups funding, networking opportunities, and incubation support from the incubation center. Especially from the start, Rohan received significant support on overcoming initial problems to his venture while continuously receiving startups support on how to fix other issues from fellow incubatees. In addition, the opportunity to begin in a tier-2 city like Hubballi-Dharwad gave Rohan ample advantages to kick-start his venture while positively impacting the local society, contributing to the mission statement of providing tier-ii and tier-iii support in smaller cities.
Of course, there were challenges to this plan. Teaching the farmers useful finance tips was no easy feat and convincing consumers about the value of Rohan’s products was even more difficult. But his stance on having prompt payments over outstanding loans or credits, his ability to convince farmers of good economic sense, and the elimination of transport costs for farmers made his firm an attractive company to work with. Rohan’s enterprise certainly appeared as a better alternative to the chaotic status quo.
For consumers, whether they were hotels or ordinary buyers, there were benefits to be had on this side as well. For one thing, with their cleaning facilities, Freshboxx had the capacity of delivering fresh and clean produce for the buyer without having to worry about bad quality. Furthermore, as a crop aggregator, buyers would have the relative ease of purchasing all the produce they needed from a single vendor without having to incur the time cost of dealing with multiple sellers.
The social impact of the enterprise was substantial. By having a network of over a thousand farmers, Freshboxx effectively provided buyers with a variety of produce that they can purchase instead of bearing the burden of seeking many producers. In addition, the livelihoods of farmers increased with the stability of commodity prices, allowing a steady flow of income to arise through the diversification of crops. Artificial pricing became a thing of the past with the help of Freshboxx Ventures. And indeed, given its substantial angel funding and plans for further scaling, it is only a matter of time before the company reaches new heights while impacting even more farmers and consumers.
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