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Inside DeHaat’s acquisition of Helicrofter

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Agritech startup DeHaat on Monday announced it has made its third acquisition in Maharashtra-based B2B agri-input marketplace startup, Helicrofter

Shashank Kumar, Co-founder and CEO, DeHaat, said that with the integration of Helicrofter, encompassing 2000+ agri-input retailers and 30 sellers across Maharashtra, DeHaat has added another major Indian agricultural belt to their already expansive geographical footprint. 

But why Helicrofter, which is a new-age B2B ecommerce platform for the agri-input industry. Buyers on its platform are retailers and community leaders who represent a few villages who buy directly from the agri-input manufacturers of seeds, pesticides, fertilisers, equipment, machineries, and allied products used by farmers. 

The startup, which has received funding from Axilor, has achieved exceptional business with annual turnover of Rs 50 crore working with close to 2000 retailers and 30 sellers in around five districts of Maharashtra. 

Why acquire? 

In a conversation with YourStory, Shashank elaborates on the move, “Acquisitions can be tricky decisions, influenced by a multitude of factors. What makes a particular company suitable for us is the complimentary proposition – either in terms of geographical presence or products and services on offer.

“In the agri-domain, the sample size of the problem statement is huge and requires collaborative approach to deliver large scale impact. At the same time, it is extremely important for us that the vision of the companies we associate with aligns with our own. In this regard, Helicrofter was a perfect match.”

For a while now, the team had a keen eye on the kind of work that the team at Helicrofter had been doing in Maharashtra.  

   

“We saw massive potential in them and the congruence of our values and business models further encouraged us to explore synergies with them. The acquisition of Helicrofter is extremely significant to us, as it marks our foray into the agricultural belt of Maharashtra and aligns with our overarching goals of geographical expansion,” adds Shashank. 

The Helicrofter team 

Helicrofter consists of a small team of 50 individuals, led by Siddhartha Choudhary. 

Even before forming his own company, Siddhartha had been closely associated with the agricultural ecosystem through his stint as a Product Manager for Cotton and Vegetable business at American agro-chemical company, Monsanto. He was also CEO of DestaGlobal, a farm input ecommerce startup, where he played a critical role in building the complete tech stack for input market linkage and enabling the company to drive revenue. 

“With the closing of this acqui-hire process, the entire team of Helicrofter will now be a part of DeHaat. The hyper-local network expertise and relations with agri-retailers/sellers that the team comes with is precisely the kind of market boost we were going for. This integration is a strategic step in the right direction towards our larger mission of catering to 5M Indian farmers by 2024,” says Shashank. 

He adds they have always been an entrepreneur-friendly organisation with number of entrepreneurs leading key business verticals, and driving impact at scale. 

“With the regional expertise and acumen that Helicrofter’s team brings in, we are all set to strengthen our foothold deep into Maharashtra and across other key agricultural regions in Western India. We see Siddhartha as the right person to lead the overall geographical expansion across Maharashtra as well as our other target states of Gujarat and Chhatisgarh,” says Shashank. 

How has DeHaat evolved?

DeHaat was founded in 2012 by IIT Delhi, IIM, and NIT alumni Amrendra Singh, Shyam Sundar, Adarsh Srivastav, and Shashank Kumar. Based out of Gurugram and Patna, the startup aims to help farmers increase their yield using technology. DeHaat’s initial team also included IIT-Kharagpur alumnus Manish Kumar, who no longer is a part of the company. 

The startup has always been focussed on a farmer-centric model of functioning. Shashank adds that the core idea behind DeHaat has been to resolve issues within the Indian farming ecosystem by focussing on providing technological solutions, and bringing together the entire laundry list of agricultural value chain offerings under an integrated platform. 

“We have always been focused towards digitising Indian farmers & their farms to drive efficiency through our full-stack AI/ML solutions. We believe the multitrack nature of our offerings has been one of our key differentiators from the competition, as well as a major USP for our users,” says Shashank. 

He says over the past 10 years, DeHaat has witnessed a tremendous growth trajectory. 

“We have proven our business model in Bihar, and have today successfully scaled to seven states, building a 4,000+ strong micro entrepreneur network and serving 7 lakh+ farmers. At the same time, our team has grown to 1,100+ professionals with deep expertise in growth strategy, supply chain management, technology and agricultural science,” says Shasank.  

In the early days, a major chunk of the work, both in terms of research and network building, happened on the ground. “The micro-entrepreneur network became the major backbone that aided our mission of mass digitisation,” he adds. 

In DeHaat’s case, starting with the DeHaat Business App (DBA), product transformation has happened in multiple parallel paths, across different product verticals, catering to each stakeholder’s market compulsions and technology requirements. “Along this journey, we have been successful in creating a more balanced phygital suite of offerings that bends to the farmer’s need,” adds Shashank. 

Market and growth 

Over the past ten months, DeHaat has witnessed a 4x growth. Shashank says they are on track to continue growing at the same pace for the remainder of FY’22. Even in terms of network expansion, the team has amassed more than 700,000 farmers and 4000+ micro-entrepreneurs, with many more being added every day.

“When we decided to foray into this industry, there was no precedence of a strong agritech player in the market. Even today, we are the only Indian company that can claim to be a full-stack agritech platform that caters to almost all aspects of the farming sector. From the very beginning, we have had to build our operations from the ground up and have had to face some amount of resistance from a largely traditional user base,” says Shashank. 

Shashank explains that thanks to the ‘phygital’ model, the team have been able to not only build farmer friendly technology solutions and deliver those to farmers on their smartphones, but also cater to non-smartphone audience through an expansive call-centre setup as well as strong on-ground presence, both in terms of manpower and micro-entrepreneur network. 

With 160 million hectares of arable land, defined as any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops, India is the world’s second largest agricultural market after the US, according to Bain & Company. The startup competes with the likes of Plantix, AgNext, Wolkus Technology Solutions Pvt Ltd (Fasal), Agrostar, Agri10x, Gramophone, and others in a rapidly growing sector. 

According to NASSCOM, India has more than 450 agritech startups, which are increasingly empowering 150 million-odd farmers with data-led systems.

Future plans 

“Our one consistent goal remains to reach out and directly impact the lives of millions of Indian farmers and associated communities. The low profit margins that farmers generate, despite their year-long toil on the fields, has been a major pain point for us. So far, we have been successful in creating a system that allows them the scope to earn a fair income, along with receiving the highest quality of crop advisory and assistance required,” says Shashank. 

He adds the team will continue their expansion Pan India building on this scope along with driving digital adoption. Furthermore, they will also be adding new tech offerings as well as scaling up value-added services like credit and insurance to our existing stack of services. 

Asked about any further acquisitions and acqui-hires, Shashank says, “We are always open to exploring the right opportunity for fund-raise as well as engaging with entrepreneurs’ who possess a striking vision that impacts real and measurable change. If we do come across more of such companies or individuals in the coming months, then we would be more than willing to explore synergies with them. Going forward, tech enhancement and network expansion will emerge as key themes for any potential acquisitions or acqui-hires.”

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Cyber Monday shopping expected to set record but annual growth has slowed | Adobe

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Cyber Monday shopping sales hit at least $6.3 billion through part of the day in the U.S. today, according to the latest online shopping data from Adobe Analytics.

It’s not unusual for Cyber Monday and Black Friday online shopping results to break records, but it this economic climate it’s encouraging to see it happen. Still, growth has slowed from 2021 and 2020 holiday seasons.

Consumers spent $6.3 billion up through 3:00 pm Pacific time for Cyber Monday. Adobe expects that when the final tally is in, consumers will spend between $11.2 billion and $11.6 billion for the day, making Cyber Monday the biggest online shopping day of the year (and of all time).

Today, the top 15 hot sellers (not in ranked order) have included Legos, Hatchimals, Disney Encanto, Pokémon cards, Bluey, Dyson products, strollers, Apple Watches, drones, and digital cameras. Gaming consoles also remain popular, along with games including Mario Party, FIFA 23, Madden 23 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

Over the past weekend, the top sellers were included Hot Wheels, Cocomelon, Bluey, Disney Encanto, L.O.L. Surprise dolls, Roblox, and Fortnite in the toys category. Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 remain the top selling gaming consoles, with popular games including FIFA 23, God of War Ragnarök, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Madden 23, and NBA 2k23. Other hot sellers included Apple iPads, Apple MacBooks, digital cameras, Roku devices, drones, gift cards and Instapots.

Black Friday online shopping sales were $9.12 billion, up 2.3% from a year ago, and Thanksgiving itself came in at $5.29 billion, up 2.9% from a year ago. Those were above Adobe’s projections. Last year, consumers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday.

Strong consumer spend has been driven by net-new demand, and not just higher prices. The Adobe Digital Price Index, which tracks online prices across 18 product categories (complements the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, which also includes prices for offline only products and services like gasoline and rent) shows that prices online have been nearly flat in recent months (down 0.7% YoY in October 2022).

Adobe Analytics says Cyber Monday will set a record.

Adobe’s numbers are not adjusted for inflation, but if online inflation were factored in, there would still be growth in underlying consumer demand, the company said.

On a category basis, toys were a major growth driver in the days leading up to Cyber Monday, with online sales up 452% over the average day in October 2022. Appliances (up 305%) and baby/toddler products (up 289%) also saw strong demand, in addition to electronics (up 276%) and apparel (up 258%).

Shoppers will find record discounts today for computers (peaking at 27% off listed price). Deals will also be found in nearly all categories tracked, including apparel (19%), toys (33%), electronics (25%), sporting goods (16%), televisions (15%), and furniture (11%). Those looking to buy an appliance should consider waiting until Thursday (December 1), when discounts are set to peak at 18% on average.

Weekend spending remained strong

Consumers spent over a Black Friday’s worth of ecommerce over the weekend at $9.55 billion, up 4.4% YoY ($4.59 billion on November 26, up 2.6% YoY / $4.96 billion on November, up 6.1% YoY). Season-to-date (November 1 to November 27), consumers have spent a total of $96.42 billion online, up 2.1% YoY.

And while the big days (Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday) have reached new heights, consumers spent at record levels all season. Since November 1, shoppers spent over $2 billion every single day, with 19 days above $3 billion in online spend. Broad, early discounts were the main drivers for the shift in consumer spending.

“Shoppers have seen massive discounts this past week, which is the exact opposite situation from last season when supply chain constraints kept prices elevated,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, in a statement. “While discounting will have an impact on margins for retailers, it is also driving a level of demand that can help brands build long-term loyalty and net some short-term gains.”

Additional Adobe Analytics Insights

Over the weekend, online sales of toys were up 383% (compared to average daily sales for the category in October 2022), with baby toys seeing strong demand (up 252%). Other categories that surged over the weekend include jewelry (up 230%), sporting goods (up 239%), and apparel (up 217%).

With online spending hitting new records and inflation impacting consumers, flexible payments have become a big story this season. In the last week (November 21 to November 27), “buy now, pay later” orders have risen 68% and revenue has increased 72%, when compared to the week prior.

Over the weekend, smartphones drove over half of online sales for the first time (52%, up from 48% last year). Adobe expects mobile shopping to dip on Cyber Monday however, based on historical trends. Many people are back at work and using laptops, which will be the preferred device for shopping online.

Forecast for Cyber Week

Adobe expects Cyber Week (the five days from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday) to generate $34.8 billion in online spend, up 2.8% YoY, and represent 16.3% share of the full November through December holiday season.

Cyber Monday is expected to remain the season’s and year’s biggest online shopping day, bringing in between $11.2 billion and $11.6 billion. Black Friday generated a record $9.12 billion in online spend, up 2.3% YoY, while Thanksgiving brought $5.29 billion in online spend, up 2.9% YoY.

Adobe analyzes direct consumer transactions online. The analysis covers over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories.

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Snowflake 101: 5 ways to build a secure data cloud 

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Today, Snowflake is the favorite for all things data. The company started as a simple data warehouse platform a decade ago but has since evolved into an all-encompassing data cloud supporting a wide range of workloads, including that of a data lake

More than 6,000 enterprises currently trust Snowflake to handle their data workloads and produce insights and applications for business growth. They jointly have more than 250 petabytes of data on the data cloud, with more than 515 million data workloads running each day.

Now, when the scale is this big, cybersecurity concerns are bound to come across. Snowflake recognizes this and offers scalable security and access control features that ensure the highest levels of security for not only accounts and users but also the data they store. However, organizations can miss out on certain basics, leaving data clouds partially secure. 

Here are some quick tips to fill these gaps and build a secure enterprise data cloud.

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1. Make your connection secure

First of all, all organizations using Snowflake, regardless of size, should focus on using secured networks and SSL/TLS protocols to prevent network-level threats. According to Matt Vogt, VP for global solution architecture at Immuta, a good way to start would be connecting to Snowflake over a private IP address using cloud service providers’ private connectivity such as AWS PrivateLink or Azure Private Link. This will create private VPC endpoints that allow direct, secure connectivity between your AWS/Azure VPCs and the Snowflake VPC without traversing the public Internet. In addition to this, network access controls, such as IP filtering, can also be used for third-party integrations, further strengthening security.

2. Protect source data

While Snowflake offers multiple layers of protection – like time travel and fail-safe – for data that has already been ingested, these tools cannot help if the source data itself is missing, corrupted or compromised (like malicious encrypted for ransom) in any way. This kind of issue, as Clumio’s VP of product Chadd Kenney suggests, can only be addressed by adopting measures to protect the data when it is resident in an object storage repository such as Amazon S3 – before ingest. Further, to protect against logical deletes, it is advisable to maintain continuous, immutable, and preferably air-gapped backups that are instantly recoverable into Snowpipe.

3. Consider SCIM with multi-factor authentication

Enterprises should use SCIM (system for cross-domain identity management) to help facilitate automated provisioning and management of user identities and groups (i.e. roles used for authorizing access to objects like tables, views, and functions) in Snowflake. This makes user data more secure and simplifies the user experience by reducing the role of local system accounts. Plus, by using SCIM where possible, enterprises will also get the option to configure SCIM providers to synchronize users and roles with active directory users and groups.

On top of this, enterprises also should use multi-factor authentication to set up an additional layer of security. Depending on the interface used, such as client applications using drivers, Snowflake UI, or Snowpipe, the platform can support multiple authentication methods, including username/password, OAuth, keypair, external browser, federated authentication using SAML and Okta native authentication. If there’s support for multiple methods, the company recommends giving top preference to OAuth (either snowflake OAuth or external OAuth) followed by external browser authentication and Okta native authentication and key pair authentication.

4. Column-level access control

Organizations should use Snowflake’s dynamic data masking and external tokenization capabilities to restrict certain users’ access to sensitive information in certain columns. For instance, dynamic data masking, which can dynamically obfuscate column data based on who’s querying it, can be used to restrict the visibility of columns based on the user’s country, like a U.S. employee can only view the U.S. order data, while French employees can only view order data from France.

Both features are pretty effective, but they use masking policies to work. To make the most of it, organizations should first determine whether they want to centralize masking policy management or decentralize it to individual database-owning teams, depending on their needs. Plus, they would also have to use invoker_role() in policy conditions to enable unauthorized users to view aggregate data on protected columns while keeping individual data hidden.

5. Implement a unified audit model

Finally, organizations should not forget to implement a unified audit model to ensure transparency of the policies being implemented. This will help them actively monitor policy changes, like who created what policy that granted user X or group Y access to certain data, and is as critical as monitoring query and data access patterns. 

To view account usage patterns, use system-defined, read-only shared database named SNOWFLAKE. It has a schema named ACCOUNT_USAGE containing views that provide access to one year of audit logs.

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WhatsApp rolls out new ‘Message Yourself’ feature globally • TechCrunch

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To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

We’re joining the Cyber Monday fun with 25% off annual subscriptions to TechCrunch+ content and analysis starting today until Wednesday, November 30. Plus, today only, get 50% off tickets to discover the vast unknown and attend TechCrunch Sessions: Space in Los Angeles!

Okay, we haven’t done a newsletter since Wednesday, and while the U.S. team was chillin’ like villains, the rest of the team was hard at work, so here’s some of the highlights from the last half-week of TechCrunchy goodness! — Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Talking to yourself just went digital: Instead of having that internal monologue stay in your head, now you can play out all of your thoughts to yourself in WhatsApp, Jagmeet writes. The messaging platform began rolling out an easier way to talk to yourself today after completing beta testing.
  • Great Wall of porn: That’s how Rita and Catherine describe the bot surge in China that is making it difficult to get any legitimate Twitter search results when trying to find out something about Chinese cities. Why, you ask? Rita writes that “the surge in such bot content coincides with an unprecedented wave of (COVID) protests that have swept across major Chinese cities and universities over the weekend.”
  • Your calendar, only more productive: Get ready for your calendar to be more than just a place to record things you have to do that day. Romain writes about Amie, a startup that grabbed $7 million to link your unscheduled to-do list with your calendar. The app also enables users to be social with coworkers.

Startups and VC

Dubai-based mass transit and shared mobility services provider SWVL has carried out its second round of layoffs, affecting 50% of its remaining headcount, Tage reports. The news is coming six months after SWVL laid off 32% (over 400 employees) of its workforce in a “portfolio optimization program” effort geared toward achieving positive cash flow next year.

There’s a couple of new funds in town, too! Harri reports that Early Light Ventures plots a second, $15 million fund for software ‘underdogs,’ while Mike writes that BackingMinds raises a new €50 million fund to fund normally overlooked entrepreneurs. He also writes about Pact, an all-women led VC for mission-driven startups, backed by Anne Hathaway.

And we have five more for you:

Lessons for raising $10M without giving up a board seat

Blackboard showing soccer strategy

Image Credits: Ihor Reshetniak (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Over the last two years, intelligent calendar platform Reclaim.ai raised $10 million “using a more incremental approach,” writes co-founder Henry Shapiro.

“We’ve done all this without giving up a single board seat, and Reclaim employees continue to own over two-thirds of the company’s equity,” rejecting conventional wisdom that founders should “raise as much as you can as fast as you can.”

In a TC+ post, Shapiro reviews the process they used to identify follow-on investors, shares the email template used to pitch the SAFE, and explains why “a larger cap table means more founder control.”

Three more from the TC+ team:

TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!

Big Tech Inc.

Amazon’s recent cost-cutting measures seem to be affecting more than just its delivery business. Manish writes that the company is shutting down its wholesale distribution business, called Amazon Distribution, in India. Amazon had started this unit to help neighborhood stores secure inventory. The company didn’t say why it was closing this particular business down, but Manish notes that this is the third such Amazon unit to be shuttered in India.

Meanwhile, Natasha L reports that Meta has gotten itself into trouble again with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (aka, the agency that regulates data protection). Facebook’s parent company is being hit with $275 million in penalties for what the agency said was breaches in data protection that resulted in some 530 million users’ personal information being leaked.

Now enjoy six more:



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