Value chains for Agri Innovation: In conversation with Pradeep, founder Thanos

CIE brings to our Deeptech community,

Fire Up Founder Insights series 5th edition, hosted by our COO, Mr. Ramesh Loganathan. The series is brought to you as a part of Startup Gyan Blog series by CIE-IIITH  where we feature our founders and talk about their Startup status and the journey so far through conversation on specific topics useful for other Deeptech startups and the community at large.

In Conversation with Pradeep, founder Thanos:

During a conversation with IT employees having farming background, the need to innovate and build a solution was identified and led to the inception of Thanos. Started off in 2016 with Aerial Surveying solutions, Thanos now focus on building Aerial Platforms and offer solutions based on land through automation, intelligence and transportation.

“Drones were getting standardised and differentiation became a difficulty for us”

The Startup pivoted in 2017, to build products for problems in need of immediate solutions that were identified after reaching out to the end users – the farmers. Most pressing challenges identified were Manual labour shortage, Inefficient Agri spraying and Health hazards from the spraying activity.

In an effort to enable and implement the tech further among Agri service providers and Agri ecosystem, the Startup took up Spraying-as-a-service. The first demo was done in 2017 with more than 50 farmers  and over a 550 acres of land for enabling Spraying as a service.

“We were least expecting farmers to operate the drones because they are the end beneficiaries and not end users”

The Startup established direct sale of drones to Agri service providers and Agri-chemical companies while benefitting farmers to build a B2B2C model.

Channels for Agri-Innovation:
Problem Identification

  • Direct approach – Talk to farmers, it is easiest and best way to find problems
  • Identify problems rather than forming assumption-based problem statements
  • Reach out to people who have Agri background and field experience
  • Get in touch with Agri product companies from seed selling to post harvest
  • Make use of resources and opportunities offered by Incubators and Institutions

Go-to-Market and Sales Channels

  • Participate in Agri exhibitions/Expos to get visibility
  • Explore partnerships and seek feedback
  • Find the segment with direct need and demand
  • Interact and bond with Service providers(Franchisees at village & District level) acting as a bridge between product companies and end users

“Contrary to common opinion, farmers are, with some hesitation, generally excited about watching demos/pilots of new technologies being tested in their fields. Word-of-mouth is far more effective afterwards”

The Growth Hack tip:

Firstly, Do not wait for the perfect product; iterate, seek feedback and pivot. It is always the journey that matters.

Secondly, Do pilots/demos to get testimonials and make use of it to further network. Also, network and tie up with existing players in the market.

Watch the complete interview for some cool anecdotes and fun facts!

Keep watching this space for more under Fire Up Series.
Stay safe and sound!

– Sunita Kumari, Team CIE