Shashank Kumar and the story of Dehaat

  1. Shashank Kumar’s departure from his lucrative consulting position at Beacon, following his graduation from IIT Delhi, left everyone astonished. Opting for an unconventional path, he returned to his hometown in Chhapra, Bihar, with the ambitious goal of entering the field of agriculture.
  2. In Bihar, where 95% of farmers owned less than two acres of land and earned a mere Rs 70,000 annually, Shashank identified the solution in cultivating high-value crops. Despite initial skepticism from local farmers, the 24-year-old entrepreneur sought alternative approaches to gain their trust.
  3. To build credibility, Shashank collaborated with farmers, recognizing that the challenges extended beyond crop cultivation to encompass the entire value chain, from seed to market. In 2012, this endeavor led to the establishment of Dehaat.
  4. Aptly named, Dehaat aimed to address the challenges faced by rural India through a comprehensive model, offering crop advisory services and access to high-quality inputs. While the initial attempt involved a call center for advisory services, Shashank quickly realized the need for a more personal touch.
  5. Understanding that farmer trust required a face-to-face approach, Shashank introduced a network of local agents known as “Krishi Saarthis.” These agents, familiar with the farming community, took orders for seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, marking the beginning of Dehaat’s growth.
  6. Dehaat’s personalized crop advisory gained popularity, attracting significant orders from farmers. Recognizing the potential for scalability through technology, Shashank sought investment, facing numerous rejections from investors who doubted the model’s scalability.
  7. Despite the initial setbacks, the tide turned in 2015 with the advent of 3G phones, bringing a transformation to the Agritech sector in India. Venture capitalists began taking the sector seriously, and Dehaat’s revenue reached 42.46 CR in 2019, securing its first institutional round of 30 CR led by Omnivore.
  8. With precise information on farm patterns and crop cycles, Dehaat expanded its services to include insurance and warehousing through a franchisee phygital model. By 2021, its revenue had grown eightfold to 358.2 CR, raising over 350 CR in funding across two rounds and serving 400,000 farmers in 11 agricultural states.
  9. The pivotal moment arrived in 2021 when Dehaat secured a funding of 800 CR led by Sofina and Lightrock, making it India’s most valued Agritech company at 5000 CR.
  10. Presently, Dehaat boasts a revenue of 2000 CR from orders totaling 300,000 metric tons and has acquired five agritech companies to enhance its technological capabilities and offerings.