Agriculture bioscience and technology startup Absolute raised $100 million in back to back rounds from blue chip investors including Tiger Global, Alpha Wave and Sequoia at a valuation of over $500 million. It was one of the largest institutional rounds in the space and came on the back of a stupendous spike in its operating revenue during the last fiscal year.
Its operating scale skyrocketed 12.7X to Rs 361 crore during FY22 against Rs 28.4 crore in the previous fiscal year (FY21), according to the company’s annual financial statement with the Registrar of Companies.
Absolute exports fruits and vegetables via wholesale trade and its collections from the sale of products ballooned 12.6X to Rs 359.56 crore in FY22 from Rs 28.43 crore in FY21. The company also generated Rs 1.35 crore via rendering services.
Founded in 2015, Absolute is a plant bioscience company that leverages phytology, microbiology, omics, molecular biology, epigenetics, and AI to control the whole cycle of agri-produce on its farm right from seed to harvest. It claims to use plant biology and hydrology to maintain quality. Unlike other supply chain and agritech companies, its product reaches consumers, retail stores, and restaurants on the day of harvesting. The company has a presence in 12 states with over 150,000 acres under its management. It exports fresh farm produce to more than 16 countries.
Moving towards the expense side, the cost of procurement of agricultural raw materials was the single largest cost center for the company and formed 87.3% of the overall expenses. This cost ballooned 12.6X to Rs 347.3 crore in FY22 from Rs 27.58 crore in FY21.
To harness growth and meet the demand, Absolute hired more resources which resulted in a 9X jump in employee benefits expenses to Rs 22.6 crore in FY22 from Rs 2.5 crore in FY21. Importantly, this cost also includes ESOP expenses of Rs 1.5 crore.
Spends on freight-forwarding and research & development expenses jumped 9.6X and 10.1X to Rs 6.93 crore and Rs 4.03 crore respectively in FY22. Absolute also incurred Rs 3.57 crore and Rs 2.96 crore on quality claims and legal & professional fees during the same period.
In line with its revenue, Absolute Foods’s expenses and losses shot up 12.2X and 12.3X to Rs 398 crore and Rs 37.4 crore in FY22. Its cash outflows from operating activities mount 33.8X to Rs 123.7 crore.
A sharp rise in Absolute’s scale helped the firm to improve EBITDA margin and ROCE which bettered to -9.88% and -6.21% during FY22. On a unit level, the company spent Rs 1.1 to earn a rupee of operating revenue. In its seven-year journey, it has generated around Rs 400 crore in revenue from operations while its outstanding losses stood at only Rs 43.8 crore during the fiscal year ending March 2022. That would also make FY22 its first really big year of growth and expansion. That should also make keeping an eye out for its FY23 numbers really worthwhile.
Absolute competes with the likes of UrbanKisaan whereas Iron Ox, Plenty, and Village Farms are global startups in this space.