Fintech to farming: Why Amit Sinha quit Paytm to build an agritech startup, backed by VSS, NABARD

In 2019, Paytm Mall’s former COO Amit Sinha founded Unnati, a fintech-powered agritech startup. It is backed by NABARD’s venture capital arm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, and other members of the ‘Paytm mafia’. 1.1K CLAPS +0 +0 Startup veteran Amit Sinha’s LinkedIn bio reads: “I have been deeply involved in building 2 large unicorns in India (Paytm and Paytm Mall).” Over two stints across 12 years at the fintech decacorn, Amit served as its CFO, Head of HR, COO of Paytm Mall, and Business Head for Paytm Insurance. Then, in 2019, he launched his own agritech startup Unnati. Joining him as the co-founder was Ashok Prasad (friend and former colleague from Paytm).  But why agriculture, given his rich experience in fintech and financial services? “I’ve done every role in building an organisation from bottom-up to billion dollars; started from zero multiple times. So, never thought twice before having to start from zero again,” Amit tells YourStory. Despite agritech and finance being completely different ecosystems, Amit says he’s building Unnati (meaning ‘improvement’ in Hindi) with a fintech core. The Noida-based startup calls itself a “fintech-powered digital farming company”. Unnati Co-founders Amit Sinha (L) and Ashok Prasad Essentially, Unnati makes technological interventions to ‘improve’ every stage of a farmer’s crop cycle — from seed buying and crop guidance, to supply of inputs (pesticides, fertilisers, etc.), market linkages for the sale of produce to the fulfilment of his working capital needs, and more.  Unnati’s overarching goal is to empower farmers and enhance their productivity with the best of technologies. It wants to create ‘farmer entrepreneurs’ who can take control of their input and output.  Amit elaborates, “The farming ecosystem is a complex and risk-prone one. So many variables are out of control. Because of the structure of the industry and the landholding system, people [businesses] find it difficult to reach out to farmers. Either their solutions don’t get delivered at all or the cost is very high because they are delivered through a long chain of intermediaries.” “This was the core problem statement when we started Unnati,” he says.

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