Startup Of The Week: Agroclear
Today with a great pleasure we are sharing new success story of Startup ecosystem and talking with Startup “Agroclear” member Deividas Mickus responsible for Customer success.
So what is Agroclear? How does it work?
Agroclear is an alternative trading platform for agrobusinesses. We help farmers and buyers trade bulk commodities better online.
Using agroclear is very straightforward. If you are a farmer or an agribusiness, then you can sign up, we verify your account, you can post trade offers, negotiate, and make contract online.
Today, in our system users can trade 17 types of grains, any type of fertilizers and recently, after discussing with our users, we added new commodity category – animal feed. More information about how Agroclear works here: https://www.agroclear.com/en/how-it-works/
Our mission is to become the marketplace-as-a-service of the future with easy, clear and direct system at its core.
What are your competitors and competitive advantages?
There are many similar platforms across the world and they specialize either locally or regionally. We thought we had a competitor in Lithuania, but we found that they are a broker. They buy to resell and claim commission from farmers as well as companies. We absolutely disagree with such approach.
Using agroclear, farmers can earn better price and agribusiness can save on purchase costs. We are proud about this competitive advantage. Some other advantages are possibility of finding all information in one place, managing inventory and facilitating several matters related to commodities trading form one, central dashboard.
What were the reasons behind coming up with this idea and launching this product?
Grain-marketing system in Lithuania, North, and Eastern Europe is old and immediately requires changes. Old system requires a lot of working time (calls, meetings, negotiations with multiple suppliers at the same time) and the deals made were usually kept behind closed doors to other participants in the market. We know that here is an opportunity to make agro sector in Lithuania clearer, more transparent and modern so we can link users not only within Lithuania, but also uses from foreign and neighboring countries.
When exactly did you launch, what were the main challenges before launching?
We launched in March 2018. The two main challenges, that we are also facing today, are to gain trust from our users and increase the adoption of new methods and tools for trading commodities online. We listen to both, farmers and agro businesses, to make our platform friendly for both sides and we believe that with hard work and patience we can gain their trust.
Agro business is seasonal and depends on many factors, for example, the ones that humans cannot control, like drought, rain etc., and there are also other factors that humans can influence. For example, how the agriculture is being done (types of fertilizers, geographical positions etc.), political decisions and market reaction to changes in prices. This season for most of the farmers, due to the drought, were hard, so we cannot expect high interest from the farmers, because this year they have their own challenges to deal with. All in all, it comes back to the fact, that when introducing alternative way of marketing to a market as old as agriculture market is, you have to be ready to be patient and you have to trust the fact, that this market is ready for changes, of which we are certain of.
Agroclear system is made for farmers and agribusinesses such as manufacturers, processors, and distributors. We launched in Lithuania so immediate focus is on the Baltic countries and also targeting Poland, Ukraine, and Romania. We aspire to be a global company, but first we have to prove ourselves in Europe.
What are main challenges while working on this product and how are you overcoming them?
Challenges of building a new product are similar to other teams and we have overcome it by having a reliable and dedicated team. We need more people who share the same vision to improve the ways agricultural commodities are traded.
How are you funded? Do you seek extra funding?
We have seed investment and we are not actively seeking next round of investment. More about this in 2019.
Please introduce your founders, your core team and your broader team?
Our core team consists of:
Founder and CEO – Amit Vaghasiya.
Co-founder & COO – Monika Gumbytė.
Customer success – Deividas Mickus.
Sales and marketing – Tautgirdas Budrys.
Broader team includes a designer and two programmers. One more team member with 5+ years of sales experience for agro commodities and who also happens to be a farmer will join us soon.
How has business been so far? Could you share some numbers to illustrate this (users, sales, etc.)?
As of today, we have 60 farmers, 3 co-operatives, and 7 agribusinesses as our early adopters. More users are signing up regularly.
Future plans, ambitions? Simply speaking – what’s next?
We will continue to onboard users. Next big milestone for agroclear is to enable logistics functionality in the system.
Thank you for your answers!