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INTERVIEW

“Technology will take dairy to a whole new level”
Monday, 13 May, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dairy technology startup Mr Milkman is now facilitating the dairy industry. The two- year-old company works with leading dairies to manage customer base subscriptions and deliveries. Sales and customer consumption patterns are tracked in real-time data by an analytical dashboard. It also helps to create offline distribution channel hubs and manages transportation and end-customer delivery. Samarth Setia, CEO & co-founder, Mr Milkman, tells Nandita Vijay in an email interaction that the dairy industry is constantly evolving and to keep up with the pace, it is necessary to adopt automation. Excerpts:

What led you to set up Mr Milkman and how has the company fared so far?
The idea of coming up with a dynamic platform came from observing the local milkman who delivered to my house. He had no concrete management of his accounts and would leave it mostly to memory. If there was any change in the delivery schedule or quantity, it would have to be conveyed to him via the building’s security guard, which eventually led to several misunderstandings and incorrect billings. The platform was conceived with a vision to change the perception of the local milkmen to the organised Mr Milkman.
 
The initial product was created with the simple vision of helping the local milkmen and hence was a very basic application, not even a straight-out problem solver. Over time, we have learnt and the platform has evolved into a SaaS (Software as a Service) product, but the learning curve was a difficult one as we required a significant amount of knowledge about the dairy industry. The good thing is that during this growth journey, we have learnt enough lessons to last us a lifetime and got us to where we are today.

Currently, Mr Milkman has 60+ clients across India with over 72 lakh litre of milk that gets managed via the platform. Some of the organisations Mr Milkman has been associated with are Milk Mantra, Whyte Farms, Amlaan A2 Milk, Himalayan Creamery, Go4Life, Milk Valley Farms, Binsar Farms Creamery, Mittal Dairy Farm, Mr Dairy, HappyMilk, Holy Drops, Happymoo, Dely Bites, Aryaffoods, Farm crème etc. to name a few.
 
What is the kind of funds that were infused to set up this startup?
We have raised an angel round, and are closing our pre-series A.

The funds will be utilised into making the platform ready for international markets and to launch certain software products that are in the pipeline. We will be hiring talent for the technology segment, mostly AI and in sales.

What have been the key advantages for the dairy sector once the SaaS platform was launched?
In order to organise a largely unorganised sector, Mr Milkman’s SaaS platform has enabled dairies to track real-time analytics and reports of their operations – right from the farm till the end-consumer.

The platform enables its clients to track sales and customer consumption patterns by providing a real-time data-driven analytical dashboard. It also creates offline distribution channel hubs which help clients to manage transportation and end-customer delivery.

The platform not only organises and automates customer management for large- and small-scale dairies but also helps them keep track of their operational processes by reporting sales anomalies and providing extensive reports. This helps dairies keep up with the trends of the industry.

With data security, transparency in approach and analytical inputs, dairies can now focus on production and growth while Mr Milkman takes care of the entire supply chain management through a cloud-based platform.

How has technology spurred the dairy development in India? What is the technology adoption across dairy farms globally?
The dairy industry is constantly evolving and to keep up with the pace, it is necessary to adopt automation.

According to a report by Edelweiss Securities, India's dairy industry is worth Rs 5.4 trillion by value, having grown at 15 per cent CAGR during 2010-16. Going ahead, the dairy industry is expected to maintain 15 per cent CAGR over 2016-20, and attain a value of Rs 9.4 trillion on rising consumerism, India is expected to emerge as the largest dairy producer by 2020.

The dairy industry in India is one of the largest in the world with most of the consumption being on a domestic level. As the dairy industry is becoming organised, it is the technology that will take it to a whole new level by reducing various costs through automation and analysing the most efficient form of managing a dairy farm.

After the Most Disruptive Business Title at the TIE-ISB Connect, 2016, what are the other achievements of the company?
Mr Milkman has grown significantly since then and has onboarded some large clients. We were also awarded Platinum Jubilee Special Award at the Vigyan Bhawan in December 2018 by AIFPA for our contribution towards the dairy industry and for our efforts in automation.
 
What are the likely future efforts of this sector?
In simple terms it would be to reduce a dairy’s costs and increase its efficiency. Reduction of cost is possible via the reduction of resources involved in its management. This is only possible using new-age technology and AI, which is bound to enter the dairy sector soon.
 
How receptive is the VC/ PE to fund this sector?
The dairy sector is one of the largest sectors and also one of the most unorganised. The fact that it is unorganised opens up the opportunity and adds potential for a lot of businesses to enter the market. I believe VCs and PE funds have started noticing this sector and we will see quite a lot of investments coming in.
 
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