How Taranjeet Singh's AgNext Technologies is revolutionizing food value chains
India is an emerging technology hub and an established agrarian economy. At the intersection of these worlds, Taranjeet Singh Bhamra is redefining horizons for agriculturists and technocrats alike with his leading agritech start-up AgNext Technologies. In our interaction with Bhamra, we discovered how he built AgNext, its offerings, and how he penetrated the market. He also shared his plans for the company going ahead.
Now based in Chandigarh, Punjab, Bhamra graduated in agricultural and food engineering from IIT Kharagpur in 2002, and has an MBA degree from the prestigious IIM Calcutta. He worked in roles related to data analytics including a five-year stint at KPMG from where he quit as the Associate Director of the Business Intelligence and Business Solutions vertical. He founded AgNext Technologies in late-2016.
Explaining why he founded AgNext, Bhamra laid emphasis on the fact that every year, agricultural produce worth billions is wasted due to unsatisfactory quality and inadequate assessment during procurement, trade, storage, transit, and consumption. Bhamra added that the unorganized agricultural trade is a major contributor to the lack of standardization across the value chain, ultimately affecting every stakeholder in it, including the consumer.
Bhamra said that AgNext provides artificial intelligence-led (AI) full-stack solutions using adaptive hardware, integrated software, and data analytics to solve the non-standardization of qualitative assessments in the post-harvest agriculture value chain. Using its quality assessment technologies, AgNext aims to add trust in the food value chain transactions, encourage transparency, capture nutritional profiles for the food, and eliminate the scope for adulteration.
Bhamra believes AgNext is a category innovator. His company's utilization of AI, machine learning (ML), computer vision, and data analytics has helped it develop India-specific solutions that are helping change agriculturists' approach toward the value chain. The company's clients, including individuals and organizations, use AgNext's Qualix platform to assess commodities, including milk, tea, grains, spices, and more, on the spot.
The company's Qualix platform developed in-house can assess a variety of physical parameters and the chemical composition of different food products to ascertain their quality in under 30 seconds. The physical assessment reliant on machine vision evaluates how many grains are shriveled, broken, or contain foreign matter. The chemical assessment evaluates parameters such as moisture content, protein percentage, gluten content, etc.
The company's SaaS business offers services, including Qualix, via subscription-based and license-based models. Bhamra claims that today AgNext has a team of over 120 full-time employees focused on R&D. Since last year, the company has also been focusing on commercialization. It plans to ramp up hiring by around 70% across operational and technical teams in the coming year.
Speaking of future plans, Bhamra briefly stated that AgNext aims to expand and solve the core issues of trust and transparency in the food value chain. The company also plans to roll out support for qualitative assessment of more commodities, alongside a continued R&D focus on improving assessment parameters while deploying technologies across unexplored geographies.
Summarizing his experience running AgNext into advice for Indian entrepreneurs, Bhamra said, "If you believe in an idea that can transform the world, you owe it to yourself to take it to fulfillment." He said that India's youth has the power to transform agriculture into a powerhouse for national growth. He maintains that there is immense scope for technological advancement in the agriculture sector.
AgNext Technologies received its first seed funding in 2017 from a-IDEA National Agriculture Research, an agribusiness incubator. Omnivore also invested in the seed round. AgNext raised pre-Series A capital from Kalaari Capital in 2019. On August 19, 2021, AgNext announced it raised $21 million in its Series A round led by Falcon Edge Capital's Alpha Wave Incubation Fund. Omnivore and Kalaari Capital also participated.