Case Detail

Case Summary

Kheyti: Product and Business Development at an AgTech Social Enterprise

Case Number: 5-217-253, Year Published: 2017

HBS Number: KE1014

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Authors: Mohanbir Sawhney; Saumya

Key Concepts

Business Plans, Distribution, Distribution Channels, Entrepreneurship, Market Analysis, Product Development, Product Management, Social Responsibility, Social Enterprise, Scaling


In early 2017, after launching its successful "Greenhouse-in-a-Box" pilot project in India with fifteen smallholder farmers, Kheyti, a non-profit agricultural technology (AgTech) social enterprise, was struggling with several decisions in developing and growing its business. Kheyti was launched in 2015 to help smallholder farmers battle poverty and income variability by providing affordable technologies bundled with services. Over eighteen months, the team had developed a low-cost and modular greenhouse product to which it added financing, inputs, training, and market linkages to create a comprehensive "full-stack" solution for small farmers. The pilot project was a success in many ways, but Saumya, Kheyti's co-founder and head of product, was concerned that it revealed shortcomings that could severely affect the viability and scalability of Kheyti's solution.

Saumya had some important decisions to make. Should Kheyti redesign the product from scratch, or find other ways to reduce the cost for early adopters? Should it rely on upfront revenues from sales of the greenhouse, or consider developing an innovative financing or contract farming model? Kheyti's dwindling cash reserves meant that these decisions were urgent and critical. The path chosen now would determine whether the startup would move beyond the pilot stage and achieve its vision of serving 1 million farmers by 2025.

Learning Objectives

Understand the challenges of bottom-of-the-pyramid populations; analyze the iterative process of customer discovery and product development; contrast the full-stack strategy against the strategy of focusing on core competencies; evaluate, based on imperfect data, different options available to a startup after the initial testing phase and contrast them on qualitative/quantitative dimensions; create a product and business development path for an early-stage company, then defend that strategy

Number of Pages: 24

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Entrepreneurship

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: India

Industry: Farming

Organization Name: Kheyti

Organization Size: Small

Decision Maker Position: Co-founder and head of product

Decision Maker Gender: Female

Year of Case: 2017