Indian Agritech Startup Clover Raises Nearly US$1M in Venture Debt

The investment comes on the heels of Clover’s $5.5 million Series A

Bengaluru-based agritech startup Clover announced that it has raised venture debt funding of INR 70 million (over US$900,000 at current rates) from Indian venture debt fund Alteria Capital.

The funding comes as a follow up to the startup’s raise of $5.5 million in a Series A round that took place in February this year.

Alteria Capital is a venture debt fund that invests in high growth Indian startups, and has extended funding to popular Indian startups such as Dunzo, Lendingkart and Toppr.

“Alteria has been tracking our progress since the early days and we are excited to have them onboard. The recently closed Series A round alongside Alteria’s current investment will help us achieve our vision to reshape the supply chain for greenhouse-grown fresh produce,” Co-Founder of Clover Avinash B. R. said in a statement.

Clover is a greenhouse supply chain platform that works with farmers to supply greenhouse-grown produce through business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) channels. As a demand-led startup, it cultivates according to ‘specific and predictable client demands’ from greenhouses built around urban consumption zones.

The company also says that it provides full stack agronomy solutions to help meet farmers’ needs end-to-end.

“Agritech is a segment which continues to see tailwinds despite COVID-related issues and Clover provides high quality produce consistently, which is at an even higher premium currently,” Managing Partner at Alteria Capital Vinod Murali said in the statement.

Earlier this year, Clover raised $5.5 million in a Series A round led by agriculture and food-focused venture firm Omnivore, along with participation from venture capital firms Accel India and Mayfield Fund. Both Accel and Mayfield funneled money into the startup during its seed round in 2018.

Speaking about the Series A, Avinash noted in an earlier statement that the funding will facilitate the expansion of its farm networks, its entry into new cities, and a diversification of the startup’s B2B and B2C fresh produce.

Indian businesses have been dealing with liquidity crunches after a series of jolts to the country’s financial sector, such as a crisis in its non-banking financial sector last year.

However, venture debt funding in India has been growing steadily since 2017, with homegrown funds Trifecta Capital and Alteria Capital, and Temasek-owned InnoVen Capital emerging as key players.

This form of funding is becoming popular with founders because it leads to no dilution of ownership or rights. However, venture equity is still the best bet for early stage startups, since the high risk associated with an early stage startup makes it a poor fit for debt funding.

Large-scale startups such online grocery delivery platform BigBasket, food aggregator app Swiggy, and hotel chain OYO have taken to venture debt funding in the past years, and new venture debt investors are keen to enter the market.

Header image by Daniel Fazio on Unsplash

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