Rakuten and Beyond Next invest $1.4M seed funding in farm-to-table startup Secai Marche – TechCrunch

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Farmers and meals companies, like eating places, take care of the identical challenge: a fragmented provide chain. Secai Marche desires to streamline agricultural logistics, making success extra cost-efficient and enabling meals companies to bundle merchandise from completely different farmers into the identical order. The corporate is headquartered in Japan, with operations in Malaysia, and plans to develop into Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. This week, it introduced 150 million JPY (about $1.four million USD) in pre-Sequence A funding from Rakuten Ventures and Past Subsequent Ventures to construct a B2B logistics platform for farmers that promote to eating places, accommodations and different F&B (meals and beverage) companies.

This spherical brings Secai Marche’s complete raised to about $three million. The capital shall be used to develop its success infrastructure, together with a community of warehouses and chilly chain logistics, rent extra individuals for its engineering workforce, and gross sales and advertising.

Secai Marche was based in 2018 by Ami Sugiyama and Shusaku Hayakawa, and presently serves 130 farmers and greater than 300 F&B companies. Earlier than launching the startup, Sugiyama spent 4 years working in Southeast Asia, together with managing eating places and cafes in Malaysia. Throughout that point, she began to import inexperienced tea from Japan, aspiring to promote it on to clients in Malaysia. However she realized provide chain inefficiencies not solely made it arduous to fulfill demand, but additionally guarantee high quality for every kind of elements.

In the meantime, Hayakawa was working a farm in Japan and dealing on agriculture management methods that predicted climate and crop progress to assist farmers preserve constant high quality.

Each Sugiyama and Hayakawa ended up at consulting agency Deloitte, researching create a extra environment friendly provide chain for Japanese agricultural exports to Singaporean F&B companies. Insurance policies applied by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration goal to extend 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 discovered that not solely farmers in Japan, but additionally all farmers in Southeast Asia have the identical downside when it comes to the present provide chain,” Sugiyama advised TechCrunch. “So we left Deloitte and began our personal enterprise to attach not solely farmers in Japan, however farmers in all Asian international locations.”

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 primarily based on consumption tendencies, seasonal merchandise and farmer suggestions, mentioned Hayakawa. Secai Marche runs its personal warehouse community, however principally depends on third-party logistics suppliers for success, and its platform assigns orders to probably the most environment friendly transportation technique.

This enables 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 international locations, whereas the remainder are offered domestically.

Secai Marche is reaching out to farmers who need to improve their buyer base. About 30% of its merchandise presently come from Japanese farms, 50% from Malaysia and the remainder from different ASEAN international locations. 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 have been unable to journey and meet with farmers.

Then again, many farmers have began promoting on to customers by means of social media like Instagram or Fb, and have approached Secai Marche for assist with success, logistics, repacking and high quality management.

Correction: Funding in quantity corrected to say $1.four million as a substitute of $1 million. 

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