When the world is going zealous about internet of things and the various technologies it has brought along, there is one startup in India which is leveraging IoT, Big Data, Cloud, Mobility, and Data Analytics to improve Agri- supply chain parameters, including milk production, milk procurement, cold chain, animal insurance and farmer payments.
Claiming to be the full IoT stack company, Stellapps has been offering few interesting products in the agri and dairy business.
Wearable that is for animals!
Yes, the idea of having a FiTBiT for cattle sounds amusing but that’s exactly what the device created by Stellapps is all about. It can detect the lying and standing behaviour of cow, lameness, discomfort, distress, restlessness, oestrus period, parturition and other such conditions. These conditions of the cow are sent to the farm owners in the form of critical or information alerts so that they could keep a track on cattle.
Unlike other Activity meter/Pedometer in the market which are linked to the automatic milking systems, ActiTrak™ is a completely wireless cloud based pedometer which does not have to be integrated to a AMS. A farmer who does not owns an AMS or just has 2-3 cows can also have this pedometer.
According to this Report, the Animal wearable market alone is estimated to be 22b USD and Stellapps is on the way of capturing this market with ActiTak which is still under the R&D phase. The company however claims that animal wearables is just one solution instance/ use case of their full IoT stack realization.
It’s various products:
Founded in 2011, their signature product is SmartMoo™, which is nothing but an IoT router, acquires data via the sensors embedded in Milking Systems, Animal Wearables, Milk Chilling Equipment & Milk Procurement Peripherals, and transmit the same to the Stellapps SmartMoo™ Big Data Cloud Service Delivery Platform where the data is analysed and results are disseminated.
The other flagship Cloud-based IoT products by Stellapps that optimizes the milk supply chain are smartAMCU™, a portable IoT Device and Wireless Gateway system used at Milk Collection centres, Contrak™, a system built for remote monitoring of Bulk Milk Coolers (BMC) which are critical for the Milk Cold Chain in India and SmartAMS, an automated Milking System with Real-time, online Milk Measurement, Animal Health Monitoring, Heat Detection.
The idea and the brains behind it
The five co-founders, who have worked for over 15 years together in Wipro, have long had the idea of entrepreneurship. Now touching down the journey to over 20 years, they have come a long way with founding Stellapps.
The idea was conceptualized when the wireless machine-to-machine (M2M), more popular today as IoT was emerging as a disruptive technology back in 2010-11. “It was at this time that building a global IoT platform – i.e., the dreams of building out a “Google of IoT” started taking shape in our heads”, said Ranjith Mukundan, one of the co-founders.
“After our desktop research and exploring various options, Agri appeared more potent than the others, hence we got started on it”, he added.
The idea was initially bootstrapped with the founder’s corpus contribution and in the subsequent year of starting up they got angel funded/incubated by IIT-Madras Rural Technology Business Incubator (RTBI), now merged with IIT-M Incubation Cell. In July 2013 Omnivore Partners came in as a Series A investor and at this point in time they are looking for next round (Series B) investors.
The challenges that were meant to be
The biggest challenge that the founders claim they faced while setting up Stellapps were from IT/Technology background. “We spent quite some time understanding the Agri/Dairy vertical – as we wanted to first apply our full IoT stack to this vertical, said Ranjith. “The lack of vertical experience was more of an advantage as we were able to look at the problems from a fresh perspective”, he added.
Another challenge was the bureaucracy. Since a good 40-45% of dairy market is still regulated by the government, there comes a strong strong bureaucracy in place in the Milk Federations and Unions that they started selling to; their pace of progress is relatively slow vis-a-vis the private players.
Adherence to quality control, traceability, supply chain and cold chain optimization protocols was abysmal – hence, getting the customers to appreciate the need and value of doing it took some time.
Competition that they surpassed
Most of the players currently are product players and hardware oriented. Having forayed into the agriculture sector, Stellapps have established itself firmly on the competitive ground.
“There are two dimensions to our competitive analysis – one is a comparison from a IoT platform point of view and the other is a comparison from a “Product Players” point of view”, said Ranjith. Being a full stack IoT company keeps them at par with other who mostly focus on some portions of the IoT stack. When it comes to the product play aspect, they are trying to commoditize the hardware and shift the centre of gravity to software/data on the cloud. Hence, we are approaching the same problem, from two diametrically opposite directions.
The growth that continues
Being predominantly in the R&D phase for the first 3.5/4 years, they have started selling seriously into the market about 18 months ago. Stellapps has grown 3x from FY 2014-15, 15-16 and plan to continue grow at this pace in current FY and next few FYs.
With over 200 customers, they proudly accept that almost all their customers give them a repeat business, as there is no direct equivalent to the solutions they offer.
Their solutions are well accepted outside India as well with a reach across Netherlands, Kenya and Nepal. They are currently in talks with several large global OEMs to take their solutions to Europe and other countries.