Startups addressing the challenges in commodities industry using Deep Tech and Geospatial Analysis

Commodities, be it the supply of basic food and cereals, base and precious metals, oil and gas have been one of the oldest and most important sector for economic activity; right from the early barter days to the current era of globalisation and rise of new emerging economics and new demand and supply routes. However, this massive sector is often shrouded with a lack of transparency and timely data and high degree of manual intervention and in many areas information is hardly available.

There is a growing hunger and curiosity of credible information on this industry, especially for the manufacturing powerhouses like China and the developing countries which are influencing the supply chain. A new set of startups have emerged who are leveraging the power of alternative data like Satellite images, IOT data to provide near real time and factual insights on the commodities supply chain. This information can be used by diverse sectors such as commodity traders, price reporting agencies, banks and other financial institutions, upstream and downstream dependant companies and even the Government to make better decisions.

One such startup which is working on the metals and mining commodities currently is Tathya.Earth, a deep tech and geospatial insights company, based out of Mumbai and incubated at AIC-RMP, a NITI Aayog- Atal Innovation mission programme and also being selected by ISRO in 2020 to work with them on Space data applications.

Currently run by a lean team of six, the team also has plans to explore new frontiers like Emissions and other important areas where their methodologies can be leveraged. The startup is already generating revenue by providing its clients across diverse geographies near real-time data with about 80% accuracy. Discussions are also going on with the government to collaborate in some critical sectors.

Nikit Shrungarpawar (second from right) with founding team of Tathya. Earth
Nikit Shrungarpawar (second from right) with founding team of Tathya. Earth

The founding members of the company are Gunjan Thakuria, Naresh Palaiya, Himangshu Das, Nikit Shrungarpawar who come with vast industry experience in Machine Learning, Computer vision, Product with about 10 years in companies like Reliance, Accenture, Cognizant, Carwale and Vodafone. The company even has a former Executive Director at Noble Group as a Strategic Investor.

Initially, Tathya.Earth looked at oil commodity, soon to realise that they are looking at the market already served. The founders were clear that they would like to serve the area which is underserved and based on further research and market feedback, realised the they should target the metals in the commodities space as it is largely untapped. Hence, they started working on a model to provide near real-time insights on steel production in major steel companies of the world; iron ore and coal inventory in major ports of the world. The next set of commodities in pipeline being copper, aluminium, zinc and ferrous scrap inventory and production across the world.

The startup uses satellite data predominantly from public sources such as NASA and ESA which helps in keeping the cost lower than the competitors and provides insights on a weekly level, much before traditional information is out in the market. Such data is useful not only to provide before the market information advantage, it also helps track regions like SE Asia and Africa where hardly any data is available. Therefore, there is a huge demand for such data.

When it comes to funding, the company soon plans to raise another round, but would lookout out for strategic investors who also understand the industry or technology. Currently most of the type of investors they are looking out for are based overseas. They have already raised an angel and a seed round of US$350,000 which has helped them launch the initial products.

(The author is Co-founder and COO, Tathya.Earth)

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