Welcome to a special video interview with the leaders of Cropin, a 12-year-old software developer in India that was founded with the goal of digitizing and automating key parts of the agriculture industry, starting with farmers.
Founder and CEO Krishna Kumar and Chief Marketing Officer Sujit Janardanan met with Acceleration Economy co-founder John Siefert and Acceleration Economy analyst/Cloud Wars Horizon host Tom Smith to discuss a major new software release: Cropin Cloud.
The new software builds upon the company’s existing applications, including Smart Farm, with a Data Hub that is able to integrate and unify data from a wide range of sources in the agriculture ecosystem, and the AI-driven Intelligence Platform that brings predictive functionality to help stakeholders anticipate issues such as crop disease or weather changes that could impact their business.
The Cropin leaders emphasized their new platform’s role in impacting the agriculture ecosystem and the importance of using it across that ecosystem, which also affects equipment manufacturers, financial services companies, insurance companies, and many others.
The product’s customers are expected to include a wide range of stakeholders in the agriculture ecosystem.
The company’s financial backers include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Strategic Investment Fund.
03:45 — When Cropin started, data was not widely used in the agriculture industry and the company’s concept was to make the ecosystem more data-driven to address complex challenges such as unpredictability from climate vagaries. In order to solve that, Kumar believed he needed a platform and standard operating procedure to manage, monitor, and use data to enable faster decisions.
04:50 — The biggest challenge was having to build everything from scratch.
07:03 — The founder recognized that other industries took a leap to transform with data and said why not agriculture?
08:37 — Kumar’s background was in engineering and electronics. He joined GE’s leadership program and worked in various businesses operate and how to use data to improve operations and profitability. He was troubled by the plight of farmers in India, some of whom took their own lives because they couldn’t repay debts. “It really disturbed me a lot and I said, we take so much, it’s time to give back,” Kumar says. “If we’re so good at tech, why don’t we go solve this problem?”
09:30 — Kumar says he sees the farm as a factory. Every factory can be profitable if it’s managed efficiently and you understand risks. “I took the same principle and said I’m going to make every farm on this planet profitable, sustainable, and predictable…the farm is always the core…and that’s the genesis of Cropin,” he explains.
10:04 — Janardanan said he was excited to join because of the social impact, the scale of the problems being addressed, and the granularity and measurability of the potential impact.
12:50 — The company’s first milestone was a product called Smart Farm. The challenge it addressed was how to build a standard operating procedure for managing every farm asset (including agronomy) and risk, as well as ensure that produce is high quality, traceable, nutritious, and sustainably-produced.
14:55 — The second milestone was building the platform to be crop agnostic and location agnostic so that anyone can deploy it in any country or continent and contextualize to local crops, climate, and conditions, and then scale. The biggest challenge to this was localization (India has 30-40 different languages, for example).
16:18 — Then the product was deployed in more than 50 countries, which led to the third milestone, namely, building intelligence through AI and ML. The company has trillions of data sets encompassing more than 350 crops and 5,000 varieties from 52 countries. It built a small team with the goal of seeing what customers could learn from all the data. Then, it started fusing the data with external data sets.
21:07 — The fourth milestone is the launch of Cropin Cloud, which is billed as “the world’s first intelligent agriculture cloud.” There are healthcare clouds and retail clouds but until now there has been no agriculture cloud.
24:45 — The company realized it was building an agriculture ecosystem industry cloud. The goal is to allow every other ecosystem player — banks, insurance companies, farm equipment manufacturers — to be able to integrate the tech solutions they’re building.
29:32 — Cropin Cloud will be used by customers across farming companies, seed companies, food processing companies, fertilizer manufacturers, financial service providers, government, development agencies, and more.
32:15 — Cropin Cloud’s Data Hub will be able to take data from drones and Internet of Things-enabled devices, ingest all that data, and then unify it to help make sense of it. Intelligence Hub will help predict yield, harvest size, crop disease, and more through the use of AI.
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