What Is Fasal?

Fasal (Harvest in English) provides daily market prices of crops via mobile SMS, helping farmers sell their crop at nearby markets at the highest rate possible. Fasal has a current subscription base of over 1.2 million farmers across 3 states of India and through using this service, farmers earn almost 15% more than before.

How It Works

Farmers register/update their mobile number by calling an IVR enabled phone number. Once registered the farmer can give a missed call to a designated number and get crop prices.

One may think that developing Fasal must have been a massive undertaking in order to develop the product, develop an infrastructure and reach millions of farmers across the country. However, Fasal was started as a series of experiments inside Intuit’s innovative department with minimal resources – as any startup practicing the lean methodology would begin.

Hypothesis

A farmer needs a service where they receive daily market prices of the crops they grow, which enables them to sell at a higher price available at their nearest market.

The Fasal team started off by selecting a place (which was accessible from their office) with a good number of farmers (Chikballapur near Bangalore) to run experiments and validate their value hypothesis.

Prototype On Paper

Initially, the team interviewed how, where, and when the farmers sells their crop. After understanding the process, the team decided that a service where the farmer receives an SMS with prices of various crops nearby would be of great value.

Rather than building a complete application, the team created a prototype on a piece of paper. They drafted the structure of the SMS on plain paper, showed it to the farmers, and the farmers were then able to provide input.

Manual SMS

Instead of building an infrastructure to send daily SMS messages, one of the team members sent SMS’s manually to a group of selected farmers who agreed to receive price alerts (these farmers were the early adopters).

IVR (Concierge MVP)

The IVR system was also developed while running experiments. Instead of buying IVR software, one of the team members depicted an automated voice behind the phone and experimented with various IVR scripts to gauge the emotions of the farmers, which helped optimize and finalize the script.

Push VS. Pull Method

Farmers used to get 3 SMS per day at designated times (Push method). With this approach, farmers did not have much control over the data they were receiving and also did not need all the messages. Hence, the team pivoted to a Pull method so that a farmer would receive an SMS only when he gives a missed call to a designated number. This method gave more control to the farmer to receive data when needed.

Revenue Mode

Fasal is a two sided product, where on one side are the users (farmers, non paid) who use the system. On the other side are the customers who pay to run marketing campaigns. This is a great channel for advertisers to reach remote locations where, even though the farmer is able to buy a TV (where the advertisers run the marketing campaign), they are not able to watch it because of power availability; however most of the farmers have their mobile and can be reached in most efficient way.

Learn more about Fasal.

This article was originally published on Lean Startup Circle with inputs from Sailesh goyal, Group Product manager at Intuit.

Image Source: fasal.intuit.com

Enjoyed this blog and podcast? Sign up here to stay up to date with the latest Lean Startup stories.