Rakuten and Beyond Next invest $1M seed funding in farm-to-table startup Secai Marche – TechCrunch

Farmers and meals companies, like eating places, cope with the identical situation: a fragmented provide chain. Secai Marche needs to streamline agricultural logistics, making achievement extra cost-efficient and enabling meals companies to bundle merchandise from completely different farmers into the identical order. The firm is headquartered in Japan, with operations in Malaysia, and plans to broaden into Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. This week, it introduced 150 million JPY (about $1.four million USD) in pre-Series A funding from Rakuten Ventures and Beyond Next Ventures to construct a B2B logistics platform for farmers that promote to eating places, motels and different F&B (meals and beverage) companies.

This spherical brings Secai Marche’s complete raised to about $three million. The capital will probably be used to broaden its achievement infrastructure, together with a community of warehouses and chilly chain logistics, rent extra folks for its engineering staff, and gross sales and advertising and marketing.

Secai Marche was based in 2018 by Ami Sugiyama and Shusaku Hayakawa, and at the moment serves 130 farmers and greater than 300 F&B companies. Before launching the startup, Sugiyama spent seven years working in Southeast Asia, together with managing eating places and cafes in Malaysia. During that point, she began to import inexperienced tea from Japan, aspiring to promote it on to prospects in Malaysia. But she realized provide chain inefficiencies not solely made it arduous to satisfy demand, but additionally guarantee high quality for every kind of elements.

Meanwhile, Hayakawa was working a farm in Japan and engaged on agriculture management methods that predicted climate and crop development to assist farmers keep constant high quality.

Both Sugiyama and Hayakawa ended up at consulting agency Deloitte, researching methods to create a extra environment friendly provide chain for Japanese agricultural exports to Singaporean F&B companies. Policies applied by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration aim to increase Japanese agricultural exports from 922.three billion JPY (about $8.5 billion) in 2020 to 2 trillion JPY (about $18.5 billion) by 2025, and 5 trillion JPY (about $46.1 billion) in 2030.

Seche Marche’s objective is to make it simpler for farmers to promote their crops to F&B companies domestically or abroad.

“We found that not only farmers in Japan, but also all farmers in Southeast Asia have the same problem in terms of the current supply chain,” Sugiyama advised TechCrunch. “So we left Deloitte and started our own business to connect not only farmers in Japan, but farmers in all Asian countries.”

Secai Marche’s logistics administration tech is what differentiates it from different wholesaler platforms. It makes use of an AI-based algorithm to foretell demand based mostly on consumption traits, seasonal merchandise and farmer suggestions, mentioned Hayakawa. Secai Marche runs its personal warehouse community, however principally depends on third-party logistics suppliers for achievement, and its platform assigns orders to probably the most environment friendly transportation technique.

This permits F&B companies to consolidate orders from farmers, to allow them to order smaller batches from completely different locations with out spending more cash. About 30% of Secai Marche’s merchandise are shipped to different nations, whereas the remaining are offered domestically.

Secai Marche is reaching out to farmers who wish to enhance their buyer base. About 30% of its merchandise at the moment come from Japanese farms, 50% from Malaysia and the remaining from different ASEAN nations. Sugiyama and Hayakawa mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic affected Secai Marche’s growth plans as a result of it initially deliberate to enter Singapore this 12 months, however needed to decelerate since they had been unable to travel and meet with farmers.

On the opposite hand, many farmers have began promoting on to shoppers by way of social media like Instagram or Facebook, and have approached Secai Marche for assist with achievement, logistics, repacking and high quality management.

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