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How a chance encounter on a train led to India’s largest aquaculture startup

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Vidhya Sivaramakrishnan

22 reads
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Vidhya Sivaramakrishnan

22 reads

Chennai-based Aquaconnect wants to revolutionise India’s Rs 2,00,000 crore aquaculture market. By serving as the connective tissue between farmers, input retailers, and seafood buyers, it believes it can formalise the largely unorganised market and bring it into the 21st century.

January 16, 2024

12 MINS READ

Key Takeaways

  • Aquaconnect has navigated some rough waters to create a solid business model for the largely fragmented Indian aquaculture industry
  • It has positioned itself as the connective tissue of the aquaculture industry, linking farmers to input retailers and seafood buyers
  • Its patent-pending remote satellite sensing technology plus on-the-ground executives add a layer of visibility and traceability that Indian aquaculture has traditionally lacked
  • The startup is looking to end FY24 with nearly Rs 300 crore in revenue—2X that of the previous fiscal—and expects to be EBITDA-positive by FY25

Before his "serendipitous" meeting with a shrimp farmer on a train, Rajamanohar Somasundaram thought aquaculture—the rearing and harvesting of freshwater and marine life—was mostly a cottage industry. However, the chance meeting, long conversation, and eventual visit to the farmer’s home forced him to sit up and take notice of the industry’s huge and largely untapped potential.

India is the world’s third-largest fish-producing country, accounting for 8% of the world’s aquaculture production. It contributes just over a percent of India’s gross value added (GVA) and nearly 7% of the country’s agricultural GVA, according to the government’s investment promotion agency, Invest India. India is also the world’s fourth largest exporter of fish and fisheries products. For all of this, as Somasundaram learned, the space was still largely unorganised.

Somasundaram was already tinkering with the idea of doing something "impactful" in the agricultural industry, but his chance meeting with the shrimp farmer is what led him to found Aquaconnect in 2017. The company’s patent-pending satellite sensing technology, which combines artificial intelligence and what founder-CEO Somasundaram terms "field intelligence", is aimed at improving the quality of seafood products, aquaculture efficiency, providing traceability and financially benefitting all stakeholders in India’s aquaculture value chain.

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