What happens when you breed JustDial and ZipDial with a Nasdaq 100 software company in the Indian rural countryside? You get Intuit Fasal – a powerful agtech platform with a mission to help farmers make more money!
For my non-Indian readers, I should mention that JustDial is India’s leading voice-based local search engine and ZipDial is one of the startups building India’s missed call economy.
Fasal (which means harvest in Hindi) is a 2 year old initiative from Intuit Labs in Bangalore. I had heard about Fasal in the early days of this blog’s journey but just couldn’t track down any public information. A few months ago, my search was more successful – leading me to fasal.intuit.com – now chock full of useful information. A ‘cold email’ requesting a meeting with the Fasal leadership got a prompt reply from Intuit PR. In due course, a meeting was scheduled with Fasal’s Senior Product Manager Shailesh Goyal. Goyal has been involved with Fasal from the beginning and was highly forthcoming in his responses and thus made for a very interesting interview. A blogger first was the presence of a PR representative (who audio recorded the meeting) – kinda sorta made TechSangam feel important. 🙂
Intuit’s official site talks about the backstory thus – Fasal was born as an experiment, when some company executives traveling in rural Karnataka looking to understand how rural small business operated, took shelter along with local farmers under a bus-shelter during a heavy downpour. The ensuing conversation between to two groups brought to the fore farmers issues on the lack of availability of correct information and how increase in commodity prices in larger towns and cities had little benefit for them (lack of price transparency), among others.
Goyal explained Intuit’s three criteria for green-lighting projects:
- Is the problem acute?
- Is the problem space big?
- Can Intuit solve it well?
- Gujarat – 771,898
- Andhra Pradesh – 335,713
- Karnataka – 49,008
[Update: Goyal just alerted me that Fasal had launched weather service at the beginning of the monsoon and the response has been tremendous in all the three states – more than 3 lakh farmers are using this service today. He also had a business model update which I reflected in the Q&A above.]