An e-Platform Assisting Farmers, Food Retailers
Thiruvananthapuram: In India, a major part of the socio-political discourse these days is focussed on the issues being faced by our farmers, be it the meagre income they receive, the debt which burdens them or their general plight. It is against this backdrop that a Thiruvananthapuram-based startup offers novel ideas to help the farmers get their rightful due, among others.
LIT Technologies, a B2B e-commerce company straddling the food and agriculture segments, was launched by a group of school friends
LIT Technologies, a Business to Business (B2B) e-commerce company straddling the food and agriculture segments, was launched by a group of school friends – Shaheen Shafi, Aswin V P, Jessin Nazeem, Kiran Suresh, Afsal Mohammed and Rahul Antony, who wanted to do something which adds value and that would be beneficial to society at large. “We are an e-commerce market place focusing our efforts on solving the problems and challenges being faced by farmers, kiranas/provision stores, hotels and restaurants, and caterers (HORECA), with the help of technological innovation, data science and supply chain optimisation,” said Shaheen Shafi, CEO, LIT Technologies.
Usually, raw materials like grains are procured from farmers and processed in the mills. The agents, who buy these processed products from the mills, brand and distribute them. The agents benefit from branding and distribution while the farmers end up getting marginal profits or even suffering losses in the whole process. “I am creating a distribution network through my platform which has as many as 1500 shops as members. Over the next three years, I am planning to bring 25,000–30,000 customers to it. These customers are small-scale shopkeepers or restaurant owners. When people buy more from us, we will come to know how many customers are buying from us and what are their demands? Based on that we can approach the farmers and procure their produce, get them processed at mills and then brand the products for marketing purpose so that the farmers are benefitted financially,” he adds.
Through the distribution network, LIT Technologies delivers essential products like rice, sugar, oil, atta, maida and other Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) like biscuits and so on to local customers. Shopkeepers can order these items through LIT’s app and they will be delivered at their shop. Products like rice are sourced from mills in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mysore besides Kerala. These are stored in a warehouse at Balaramapuram in Thiruvananthapuram. It has plans to set up a bigger warehouse at another location in the city.
The shopkeepers, who are not familiar with the usage of app, initially order their products through phone. As they gradually become app-friendly, they start using it to place their orders. Through this a shopkeeper can save valuable time by not going to a wholesale shop for collecting the products during busy business hours.
The one-year-old startup has received a grant from Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and raised angel round of investment from High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs). Now the startup generates revenue close to Rs. 2 crore per month. ‘’After we receive the next round of investment, we will expand our business to Kochi and Kozhikode, and eventually to other small towns,” says the CEO.
“Initially, it was a challenge for us to convince people, including our family members, that this would be a success. Now we have a team of 32 members having either IT or management background. Our immediate plan is to expand to Kochi,” sums up Shaheen.