Rajasthan – 2019, Nawalpura :- Neetu Yadav had expected a rough flight. During the first week of September, Rajasthan experienced a wet spell. The early morning flight from Bengaluru, on the other hand, avoided turbulence and arrived in Jaipur on time. It was raining, and Yadav, who had just quit her work at Pratilipi, an online storytelling platform, for the second time in less than four years, booked an Uber to Nawalpura hamlet, about 70 kilometers from the airport. She put on her earbuds, turned on some Hindi music, and attempted to relax. The prospect of relaying the news to her dairy farmer father was unsettling. Yadav put her belongings in her room and dashed to the cattle shed to milk the cows as soon as she arrived home.
Kirti Jangra, 265 kilometer’s away in Hisar, Haryana, was preparing for a harsh greeting on the same day. She drove from Gurugram to her village to tell her family something shocking. Jangra’s father, a government employee, had taken the day off to be with her daughter, who was returning after a year away; Jangra’s cousin and uncle, who were also dairy farmers, were also at home to see the former Nomura employee who was now working for publishing company Penguin in Gurugram. The atmosphere in the home was joyful . Jangra had gotten into one of the best universities in the US. Understandably, the family’s mood was delighted.
Jangra, on the other hand, was well aware that the fallout from her admission could be disastrous. She, on the other hand, desired to seize the bull by the horns. She downed a full glass of buttermilk in a few gulps before spitting out the news. She announced, “I’m quitting my job.” The members of her family clapped and hugged her. A Haryana girl from a tiny town was going to embark on an MBA programme in the United States. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The second section of the confession, on the other hand, took everyone by surprise. “I’m not going to the United States. She declared, “I’ve chosen to sell cows.” Her father was irritated. With hazy eyes, he glanced at his daughter. He inquired, “Is this why you went to IIT-Delhi?” “If you had to become a cattle trader, why did you study so hard?”
It was Yadav’s time to cause a ruckus in Nawalpura. She told her father, “I want to sell buffaloes.” The dairy farmer feigned to be deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly Yadav reaffirmed his point. He seemed perplexed when I asked, “Tu bhains bechegi (You want to sell buffalo)?” Her father’s reaction was understandable. The farmer defied the wishes of his village and society by sending his daughter to Kota to study engineering. To pay for her tuition, he even sold his livestock. Yadav, for her part, did not disappoint her father by rushing to IIT-Delhi. She wanted to sell cattle after working for nearly four years, and she wanted to do it online.
The youngsters, who had been roommates at IIT-Delhi and had formed a close friendship, decided to pursue their dreams. All they wanted was for dairy farmers to have a fair shot and plenty of opportunities. According to Yadav, there are over a dozen brands to pick from while purchasing earbuds. “However, what possibilities do you have if you want to buy a cow or a buffalo?” she inquires. Yadav enlisted Jangra’s help, and in November 2019, she and her two Pratilipi colleagues launched Animall, an online cattle marketplace. The group began operations in a small rented room in Bengaluru. Rajasthan threw down the gauntlet to Yadav.
The task, as well as the start, were not simple. Not only was the concept disruptive, but it also appeared absurd to everyone. Everyone asked, “Internet pe bhains kaisey bikegi (how can buffaloes be sold on the internet)?” The farmers yelled, “Mazak kar rahi hai kya?” (Are you joking?) The females put on their blinkers and hustled, unfazed. The news quickly spread around the village like wildfire. The popular remark was, “Dimaag ghas charne gaya hai tum logon ka (you guys have gone insane).”
It was Rampal’s time to taunt his father three months later, in December. In Nawalpura, a 16-year-old school dropout accomplished something extraordinary. In less than 24 hours, he sold three cows. His father, a farmer, had battled for nearly a month to locate purchasers for his livestock, which added to the sweetness of the endeavor. He remarked, “Ye app nahin, aandolan hai” (This isn’t an app, it’s a revolution), referring to the Animall app, which he used to sell the cows.
Yadav’s father received a lot of calls from a group of interested purchasers a month later, in January 2020. They were interested in purchasing his buffaloes after seeing his listing on the app. He, on the other hand, failed to crack the code. Before selling, he wanted to do something. He thanked Yadav and dialled her number. “I’m delighted I supported you. “Buffaloes were sold,” he stated with pride in his voice.
Yadav was well aware that the buffaloes were not the only sold. Animall’s story was going to reach a wider audience. In the same month, Yadav received Rs 50 lakh in pre-seed finance from Anupam Mittal and a handful of the co-founders’ friends. Three months later, institutional investors such as Singapore-based BeeNext and Mumbai-based WEH Ventures contributed Rs 5.75 crore in seed capital. Yadav and her colleagues expanded the business to Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar in less than two years, selling more than 5 lakh cattle worth Rs 2,500 crore in GTV (gross transaction value).
Despite the fact that the company is still in the pre-revenue stage, the investors are impressed with the scale of operations and the team’s execution. Nexus Venture Partners executive director Sameer Brij Verma outlines what makes Animall unique. The first is the big, unsolved issue that the Animall team is attempting to solve. India’s cattle market is not only fragmented and unorganized, but it’s also one of the least productive in the world. Despite the fact that India is said to have the world’s largest cattle population, it pales in contrast to the second-largest, Brazil, in terms of milk production. The Gir’s average milk supply was 1,590 kg per lactation until two years ago, compared to 3,500 kg for the Brazilian breed average. He explains, “It’s a big industry, and Animall has identified a fascinating niche.”
The co-founders’ enthusiasm is the second major reason to support the venture. Animall is in the ideal position to comprehend the pain issues faced by millions of farmers because the majority of its core team has some form of cattle farming experience. “They are solving a unique Bharat problem,” says Verma, who adds that such a business has never been attempted before in India or anywhere else in the world. While other countries have cattle trade networks, they are primarily B2B and designed to solve the meat problem. Farmers in India rely on cattle for milk, hence cattle are the main source of income.
Rajan Anandan was also pleased by the founders’ execution. The team was struck with the extraordinary quality of the founders, their development curve, and the prospects given by a business developed in an inherently overlooked and inefficient market niche, according to Sequoia India’s managing director. “Their early design decisions demonstrate how well they know their user,” he explains. Anandan reveals that the founding team is driven and sincere, has great leadership abilities, and has deep market insights combined with best-in-class product thinking.
When you look at the life of cattle producers, Animall’s quest to make a difference in the unorganized cattle market makes sense. When you throw in a bunch of missing links related to farming, their predicament becomes even worse. First, the concept of insuring livestock is far from unique; second, even though cattle is expensive, it cannot be pledged as collateral for loans. As a result, funding is conspicuous by its lack; third, the doctors—veterinarians—are absent; and, finally, the understanding of how to improve milk production is still old.
For their part, Yadav and Jangra claim that they are working hard to bring some order to the market. “Our objective is to enhance farmers’ lives by making dairy farming much more productive and profitable,” says Neetu Yadav, Animall’s CEO and co-founder. She points out that over 300 million cattle are spread among 75 million dairy farmers in India. Compare that to Brazil, which has 230 million cattle and 2 million dairy farmers. “Imagine India’s fragmentation,” she continues. She points out that this inevitably leads to massive inefficiencies in farming. Another fascinating thing that Yadav and Jangra noticed was this. In Bharat, people used the internet for amusement, including YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, music, videos, and other media. “There was no utility-driven software to solve the consumers’ lifestyle and actual problem,” Yadav explains.
Though the youthful co-founders have taken a major risk, they are quick to credit their venture’s success to luck. The most important is their fathers’ and families’ support. While Yadav’s father resisted pressure and sent his daughter to Kota for engineering training, Jangra was lucky in that her father realized that his US goal was not greater than her daughter’s desire of making it large in a field no one had ever heard of.
Yadav’s second lucky break occurred while he was working at Pratilipi in Bengaluru. Yadav was tasked with creating a solution for the next 500 million mobile users during one of the online storytelling platform’s internal hackathons. Yadav didn’t even blink. Her family, which was involved in dairy farming, was one such case. Animall was established by Yadav, the first woman graduate in her family and village. Despite working in Gurugram, Jangra remained an integral part of the hackathon. Yadav describes her as “extremely eloquent” and “excellent at crafting strategy.”
Animall revived the duo’s entrepreneurial instincts, which they had always wanted to accomplish together. “This was a market that we intuitively recognized. Jangra explains, “We felt the agony and recognized the remedy.” The group rented a room for Rs 11,000 and began working. The first order of business was to contact as many farmers as possible. The third stroke of luck arrived after two months of operations: a meeting with Anupam Mittal. “We have always been fortunate in finding people who have had some experience with cow farming,” Yadav says.
Mittal describes how serendipity worked back in Mumbai. With his pals, the founder of Shaadi.com went to the Pushkar cattle market in Rajasthan in 2019. While the event was overpowering, one key realization emerged. “It had become a carnival and was no longer a place where animals were sold,” he recalls. As soon as he returned, he ran into Yadav and learned of her plans. “Every now and again, you meet a founder or a founding team with whom investing is not a difficult decision,” he explains. He emphasizes that Animall was one of those start-ups.
Apart from the company strategy, Mittal was persuaded to take a chance on the inexperienced founders because of their history. He notes that whenever entrepreneurs have a strong emotional connection to a problem, they are more likely to address it with zeal and play the game for the long haul. “It’s referred to as serendipity… “Neetu was resolving the issue I had just encountered,” he explains.
Meanwhile, Yadav has set her sights on being India’s one-stop shop for dairy producers in Bengaluru. She believes that Animall should be a location where people may learn everything there is to know about cattle. In India, the livestock management, chips in Jangra, is absolutely bankrupt. “We want to repair it,” she concludes, as the co-founders return to their mission of herd organization using their Animall app and instinct.