We are expecting a revenue growth of nearly 100% in the current year vis-a-vis last year. Company is EBITDA positive and we expect to grow at 50% without any external capital infusion for the next 3-5 years.
Tell us everything about your company and what does it do? What were the challenges faced during setting up and scaling the business? How did you overcome them? Where are you based out of and when did you start?
Weather Risk Management Services (WRMS) headquartered in Gurgaon, is a pioneer in smart and sustainable farming in India. It was founded by Mr. Sonu Agarwal, Mr. Anuj Kumbhat and Mr. Ashish Agarwal as an endeavour to empower farmers in overcoming the most daunting agrarian challenges. WRMS leverages data, technology and financial innovation to help farmers enhance productivity, gain a secure income, and practice sustainable farming. Incubated by IIT Kanpur in 2004 with investments from SIDBI, the company has received investments and grants from luminaries like UPL, ILO and the Ford Foundation. Over the years, WRMS has built a strong reputation with a formidable presence across 22 states in India and 15 countries across the globe.
From designing weather risk management services to developing the world’s first income guaranteed smart & sustainable farms, WRMS is home to numerous national and international firsts. Be it devising the world’s 1st village-level insurance settlement solution using low-cost AWS, or creating India’s first solution that combined Index Insurance with Farm Advisory and cutting-edge Weather Forecasting Services, the company has always helmed innovation in the sector. WRMS is also the first organization to launch Index Insurance in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Fiji. With its team of 500+ multi-disciplinary experts across Agricultural Science, Data Science, Meteorology, Actuarial Science and Information Technology the company is always working upon breakthroughs that can make the agriculture and dairy sector more robust.
WRMS is on a mission to revolutionize the farming sector by connecting farmers with the latest technology in the agri space. With our product SecuFarm, we handhold them right from the seed selection stage to post-harvest to assure them better yield & a guaranteed income.
The app helps farmers in achieving more productive and sustainable farming, thus, uplifting their socio-economic status.
Company has 5 offices in India covering key cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Aurangabad. Company also has a manufacturing facility and technology development centre in Kanpur.
Challenges faced while setting up and scaling the business
17 years of WRMS journey is filled with challenges we have overcome. WRMS is at a juncture where our products and services have proven track record of quality and service. Our challenge is to get the capital scale up to expand each of these product lines. We are also looking for investors that are interested in the sector and apart from providing the capital, can be our passionate ambassadors for the expansion of our products. Our 4 major product segments can be easily expanded to generate revenue of Rs. 150 crore each in next 3-5 years with the right amount of capital investment and business expansion support.
How did you come up with the idea and what was the Eureka moment?
Genesis of WRMS lies in the first ever launch of a Weather Index Insurance solution for farmers in 2003 by ICICI Lombard. WRMS’s founder Mr. Sonu Agrawal designed that product as a head of the structured product team. He saw value in the concept for the farmers and decided to take the plunge along with Anuj. When WRMS started in 2004, India had only about 1000 Automatic Weather Stations and a very sparse weather network to offer weather index insurance contracts. WRMS has worked over time on developing the ecosystem and now has among the largest networks of AWS in India. Over 2.5 million farmers have been offered the Index Insurance and Risk Management solutions designed by us.
Apart from this post-investment from UPL and benefiting from risk modelling and technology capabilities, WRMS has started offering technology-backed advisory services along with risk management solutions to the farmers in 2019. The application service of WRMS, SecuFarm allows farmers to manage their risks at the farm level even for a small 1-acre farm. We see this as a solution that has huge potential in smallholder geographies like India particularly because of high penetration of smartphones in the rural areas of the country.
What has been revenue, traction and growth from the date of inception till now?
The company has grown from a 2 people organization in 2004 to around 300 persons. Our IOT network has swelled to 10,000 IOTs from less than 1000 in 2015. We are expecting a revenue growth of nearly 100% in the current year vis-a-vis last year. Company is EBITDA positive and we expect to grow at 50% without any external capital infusion for the next 3-5 years.
What is the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors?
With over 2.5 million farmers served, 1 million acres of land geo-tagged and 10,000+ IoT devices installed, WRMS is a leader in the agriculture and dairy risk management industry. Under its Comprehensive Agricultural Risk Management Solution, WRMS has become a global pioneer in Income Guaranteed Smart & Sustainable Farming Solutions. Having an expansive experience of almost two decades in the sector, WRMS has worked prolifically with some of the leading names in the agro-input and procurement industry like Pepsico, Safal, ITC, Mother Dairy etc. along with Government and Govt-run bodies like NCFC and Bihar Government. Apart from this, WRMS has also partnered time and again with multilateral agencies such as Work Bank Group, UNCDF and insurance bodies like ICICI Lombard, HDFC Ergo, to name a few.
WRMS is the only company that offers farm-level risk management using Risk Pricing Models and provides integrated risk management and regulatory services that help financial institutions, insurers, and corporates understand, quantify, and manage their risk associated with weather – earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other weather events – and crop yields.
We are not just a smart farming company, but one that offers SecuFarm — the world’s first Smart & Sustainable Farming solution that provides an assured income to the farmers.
SecuFarm = Smart Farming + Income Security + Sustainability
You have recently announced the collaboration with KSNDMC & APSDPS. Please throw some light on these collaborations.
Collaboration with Andhra Pradesh State Development Planning Society (APSDPS)
Recently WRMS collaborated with Andhra Pradesh State Development Planning Society (APSDPS) in order to provide Real-Time Data Acquisition and Maintenance of Automatic Weather Stations to Andhra Pradesh State Development Planning Society (APSDPS). The six-year project includes the design, supply, installation, operation, real-time data acquisition and maintenance of 430 Automatic Weather Stations in 13 Districts of Andhra Pradesh.
The Comprehensive Agricultural Risk Management Solution by WRMS that leverages data, and technology to develop risk management solutions, has been instrumental in securing this project. WRMS’s expertise in the domain will aid APSDPS in maintaining 430 additional units of Automatic weather stations required as per the guidelines of Ministry of Agriculture norms, Government of India, 2015 to ensure that weather stations lead to reasonable reduction in risks. The real-time weather parameters data provided by WRMS will enable APSDPS in serving this objective.
Collaboration with Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC)
Weather Risk Management Services Pvt. Ltd. (WRMS) recently joined hands with Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) to provide telemetric rain gauge instruments to Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC). The five-year project includes the supply, installation and comprehensive maintenance of telemetric rain gauge stations across 3003 locations in 30 districts of the state, covering North Interior Karnataka, South interior Karnataka, Malnad and the coastal region. WRMS is an industry leader in Climate Outlook and Weather Forecasting Services and builds resilience against vagaries of weather. The company will provide KSNDMC with real-time rain data that can be leveraged for generating reports, forecasts, alerts and advisories for various purposes.
How are you funded and any further plans to raise funding?
We got our funding from multiple sources and from multiple entities. UPL Limited is our key investor holding 32% stake in WRMS. UPL is the 5th largest Agrochem Company in the world and has operations in 42 countries. Thus far, we have received investments & grants from UPL, ILO, and the Ford Foundation.
What are your future plans?
The Company is seeking investments to expand WRMS Secufarm to a million farmers in 3-4 years timeframe.
How & why Technology without risk management will not address farmers problems? How does WRMS integrate holistic tech-based interventions?
WRMS provides farmers with advanced sustainable farming solutions that help them achieve better yields and a guaranteed income. We help farmers with our SecuFarm app from seed selection to sowing, plant management, pest control, weather advice, harvesting, and the post-harvest phase. The latest technology solution in the agricultural sector helps farmers with accurate real-time agricultural data collection. Farmers can also connect with our agri experts through our app for instant solutions for the health of their crops. We offer IoT based agriculture services like accurate & real-time weather forecasting using Indigenous Automated Weather Stations to measure parameters like temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed, wind direction & solar radiation every second. Remote pest monitoring is done using electronic traps and image processing algorithms. We also help farmers plan smart irrigation using automatic irrigation switches which save their time, efforts and water. Thus, we offer holistic tech based agriculture solutions to our farmers which make farming easy, sustainable and profitable for them.
Facet of technology in WRMS & how the brand is making lives effortless for small and marginal farmers?
WRMS has made farming easy & sustainable for small and marginal farmers across India with the right & timely information. WRMS offers smallholder farmers a holistic farming approach that accelerates the adoption of new technologies and mitigates climate-related risks. We make our farmers future-ready and give them the confidence to practice sustainable farming that is economically feasible and environmentally sound. Our focus remains on mindful use of natural resources so that they can persist for future generations.
By associating with WRMS, smallholder farmers are now gaining more profit in their farming business. Earlier they were facing many agrarian challenges that were affecting their crop yield, quality & prices. They were using more pesticides that were affecting both soil quality & crop. Now with the guidance of WRMS, they use the right amount of pesticides and are becoming able to produce more yields with less expenditure. WRMS reaches out to the farmers to provide them with timely advisory & alerts regarding crop health, weather forecast, etc. By connecting with WRMS, they get all the information beforehand. They need not visit any advisor as our field officers visit farms regularly to educate farmers.
Agriculture IoT Market may set new growth – Why?
Nowadays, the agriculture industry is witnessing a major shift due to the technologies of industry 4.0. The farming industry benefits from technological development from planting and watering to crop health and harvesting. IoT solutions are focused on helping farmers close the supply-demand gap, by ensuring high yields, profitability, and protection of the environment. The approach of using IoT technology to ensure optimum application of resources to achieve high crop yields and reduce operational costs is called precision agriculture. IoT in agriculture technologies comprises specialized equipment, wireless connectivity, software, and IT services.
Smart farming supported IoT technologies enables growers and farmers to scale back waste and enhance productivity starting from the amount of fertilizer utilized to the number of journeys the farm vehicles have made and enabling efficient utilization of resources like water, electricity, etc. IoT smart farming solutions may be a system that’s built for monitoring the crop field with the assistance of sensors (light, humidity, temperature, soil moisture, crop health, etc.) and automating the irrigation system. The farmers can monitor the sector conditions from anywhere. They can also select between manual and automatic options for taking necessary actions supporting this data. For example, if the soil moisture level decreases, the farmer can deploy sensors to start the irrigation. Smart farming is highly efficient when compared with the conventional approach.
How many farmers are currently affiliated with WRMS?
2.5 million +
Source: Business World