IB: Why you selected this business if you are passed out from IIT, you would have done job in any MNC company?
Nishant: Passing out of IIT does not necessarily mean that one has to work for an MNC. Most MNC’s are great places to work and I did work for MNC in agriculture machinery sector for some time. The decision to start something of your own is more about individual choice and I believe for me, it was the excitement and satisfaction that one derives from building something of your own while simultaneously being able to solve real problems, that motivated me to take the plunge and give up the safety of a job.
IB: Are you from agriculture background? If No, then why you selected farmers as your consumers
Nishant: Well, I do not have an M Sc. in Agriculture Science per se, but I do have a B Tech. degree in Agriculture and Food Engineering from IIT Kgp. And as I gained exposure to the agriculture sector over past several years, I realised that farmers are up against lots of variables be it cultivation or marketing of their produce and given that more than 50% of the population in India is employed in agriculture sector, I felt it was a no brainer to look at agriculture as plethora of opportunities and farmers as my customers .
IB: What type of problems you solves through this app.
Nishant: We are currently solving problems related to field preparation, preventive and curative disease and pest management and nutrition management. We all also run awareness/educational series call Gram Salah where we send information relevant to current cropping season and pattern. We are in the process of a complete revamp of our app where we would be able to provide advisory as per the stage of farmer’s crop and couple of other significant developments. Our vision is to provide advisory to farmers at personalised level, specific to his individual farm, we are constantly striving towards this goal.
IB: What would be your plan of action and strategic vision for Gramophone
Nishant: we believe that sales should be the outcome and not the goal. As an entrepreneur I should be able to create-value/solve-a-problem and take that solution to the customers and build a sustainable business around it. The strategic vision of Gramophone is to create solutions which provide personalized, actionable information to farmer, basically provide access to his own crop doctor to each farmer by leveraging mobile technology and both artificial as well as human intelligence. But the idea is not just to be restricted to crop cultivation related issues but widen the scope of problem solving and bring in credit and insurance and eventually provide a holistic solution to rural customer.
In terms of the action plan, we are adding couple of geographical areas to our areas of operations in MP and plan to go deeper in our existing area i.e. Western Madhya Pradesh.
IB: Now a days many applications are coming in market, how different is Gramophone from those.
Nishant: Yes, there are many app in the market, but it would be a mistake to look at Gramophone as just an app. We have been very clear about since the beginning that app alone cannot solve all problems, and hence at Gramophone not only do we provide right information through the app we also provide doorstep delivery of right product to farmers. And the relationship doesn’t end there, through our call centre farmer can directly speak to our gram mitra, who possess both practical and theoretical knowledge about right farm practices and can support the farmer throughout his entire cropping cycle. Even on an app to app comparison Gramophone’s app has linked crops and associated problems pictorially in a very intuitive way such that anybody can get the desired information very easily. And as we are launching new version, our new version would have features which would set us apart and help users to get pin pointed advisory.
IB: Are farmers really getting any benefits from this and how much response you are getting from them?
Nishant: Yes ! Absolutely. There are farmers who have seen increase in their production by upto 30 to 50% and significant improvement in quality in terms of uniformity in size of bulb (onion). These farmers I am talking about are onion farmers from Shajapur district of MP.
IB: Do you think your project will get success as majority of farmers are not well educated
Nishant: While there are a majority which are not well educated however, we should not confuse education level with their intelligence and smartness, I believe we would get success specially because they are not well educated because education level might stop them from accessing books and literature but their intelligence would guide them towards adopting intuitive smartphone based solutions.
IB: What do you think, how much time will it take when majority of farmers will be using gramophone app
Nishant: As it stands today, the Smartphone and internet penetration is increasing at breakneck speed in the rural areas. And while it might take us some time to get to 50 million users, it would be relevant to say that majority of the farmers would be in touch with a platform like Gramophone within the 3 years.
IB: Are you doing any awareness campaign for farmers?
Nishant: Yes, our team regular awareness campaigns both offline and online. We have a strong marketing team of 25-30 people who interact with multiple farmers on regular basis, and we also interact with 5000-6000 farmers through our call centre.
IB: Till now from which region you are getting maximum response from farmers
Nishant is based out of Indore and focus on western M P. Ujjain , Shajapur, Indore Dewas are areas where we get good response and other regions where we started operations recently are catching up pretty fast as well.
IndianBureaucracy.com wishes Nishant and his team the very best.