Rakuten and Past Subsequent make investments $1.4M seed funding in farm-to-table startup Secai Marche – TechCrunch

Farmers and meals companies, like eating places, take care of the identical difficulty: 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 increase into Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. This week, it introduced 150 million JPY (about $1.4 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, inns and different F&B (meals and beverage) companies.

This spherical brings Secai Marche’s whole raised to about $3 million. The capital will likely be used to increase its success infrastructure, together with a community of warehouses and chilly chain logistics, rent extra folks for its engineering group, and gross sales and advertising.

Secai Marche was based in 2018 by Ami Sugiyama and Shusaku Hayakawa, and at present 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, desiring to promote it on to prospects in Malaysia. However she realized provide chain inefficiencies not solely made it onerous to satisfy demand, but in addition guarantee high quality for all types of elements.

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

Each Sugiyama and Hayakawa ended up at consulting agency Deloitte, researching the right way to create a extra environment friendly provide chain for Japanese agricultural exports to Singaporean F&B companies. Insurance policies carried out by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration purpose to extend Japanese agricultural exports from 922.3 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 purpose 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 in addition all farmers in Southeast Asia have the identical drawback by way of the present provide chain,” Sugiyama instructed 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 based mostly on consumption developments, seasonal merchandise and farmer suggestions, stated Hayakawa. Secai Marche runs its personal warehouse community, however largely depends on third-party logistics suppliers for success, and its platform assigns orders to essentially 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 extra money. About 30% of Secai Marche’s merchandise are shipped to different international locations, whereas the remaining are bought domestically.

Secai Marche is reaching out to farmers who wish to enhance their buyer base. About 30% of its merchandise at present come from Japanese farms, 50% from Malaysia and the remaining from different ASEAN international locations. Sugiyama and Hayakawa stated 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 journey and meet with farmers.

However, many farmers have began promoting on to shoppers by 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 $1.4 million as a substitute of $1 million. 

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