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Bengaluru-based Pwip to set up digital platform for rice trade in 6 months

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After bringing various stakeholders in the rice sector on WhatsApp platform, Bengaluru-based Pwip Foodtech Pvt Ltd will set up a digital platform in about six months for buyers and sellers to do business, said Dhanraj H Kidiyoor, Co-founder and CEO of the firm.

A feature of Pwip in enabling the stakeholders in the rice sector to come together is that it has identified at least 85 varieties of rice and these are offered on its platform. “People may see differentiation in terms of who they buy rice from. But we have to tell buyers that Sona Masuri from Karnataka is different from the one you get in Nellore. There is ₹10-15 in pricing and the Nellore variety has to be cheaper,” Kidiyoor told businessline.

Price information

Where a buyer or customer is not aware of these, he/she could feel cheated when they pay more for a cheaper variety. “Vital information such as these are not shared. A lot of price information is not shared by agents and traders. So, there is a lot of price and information arbitrage,” the company’s co-founder said.

A trader does not tell the buyer that he is giving a particular variety of rice from a specified mill. “This is the trade secret through which they earn,” he said.

Dhanraj H Kidiyoor, Co-founder and CEO,  Pwip Foodtech Pvt Ltd

Dhanraj H Kidiyoor, Co-founder and CEO,  Pwip Foodtech Pvt Ltd

Though Pwip has a platform now, it is not fully “fleshed”. “It is just halfway through. We have partners sharing price information on it. Millers also share their price data. We are working on something like The Yarn Bazaar, which has tied up with large fashion brands and big buyers,” the company’s co-founder said. 

Subscription model

Pwip has a subscription model wherein if someone wants contact details, they have to pay for it. “We have about 40,000 who have used our Whatsapp platform. For example, if you send a Hi! to our Whatsapp group and it will ask you to type 1 for Basmati and 2 for non-basmati,” said Kidiyoor, who launched the platform in 2020.

This is followed by interactive questions of the region. For example, if someone types 1 — which is Basmati — and then that person says he wants Punjab region’s offering, there will be 12 varieties on offer. The WhatsApp platform provides a list of mills that offer the rice and the price for it.

Pwip had to come up with the Whatsapp platform as “Covid-born” since it was initially clueless on the direction it should take and from where to get people”. “We wanted to make a community out of it and these 40,000 have availed of simple services such as tracking prices, contacts of importers and exporters. There are actually 1,300 real exporters who are exporting rice from India and we give those contacts,” he said. 

Social media presence

It will take 3-4 months for Pwip to get its digital platform ready as only basic things are up till now and it is revamping totally. “But we have a good social media presence, something agtech companies don’t have. 

Pwip launched a Youtube channel, which till now has attracted over 12,000 followers who consume rice or export the grain, he said. 

The objective of starting Pwip was to find the people who did not know what rice they were buying. “There was a bit of knowledge arbitrage. So that is where we began spreading our wings in social media trying to provide knowledge and build the trust on our app,” said Kidiyoor, who has over 12 years of expertise in the field.

“When we launch our digital platform, people who trust us with smaller services will know they will get a better outcome from us,” the company’s co-founder said. 

Making exporters

Another feather in the company’s cap is that it has converted some 55 people who were grocery store owners as exporters. “They knew a lot of varieties but did not know how to export. We helped them with company registration, incorporation to everything,” he said. 

At least 90 per cent of the 40,000 users are buyers and millers. “We haven’t touched the farmer yet. It is only buyers, exporters and importers. There are about 250 millers, who are supplying the rice,” Kidiyoor said. 

Pwip has done 20,000 tonnes of rice trade and is looking to double it quickly. It is also trying to increase its turnover from the current ₹100 crore over the next two years by at least 10X. The trade is taking place on the export front to the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Qatar and West Asia. 

Pwip has not looked at Europe, Canada or the US as they are “complicated markets” in terms of pesticide residue. With every stakeholder in the trade improving his/her hold on the English language, it is the right time for digitisation. “If you come up with a platform for them to scale up, they will do it. But each one has other problems to attend to. So, we have a platform that will help them,” Kidiyoor said. 



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