Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Vaibhav Tidke (VT:) I was born in Beed district (Maharashtra, India), one of the most drought-hit districts of India, and learned at an early age that while we had enough land, there was no water to support the fertile pieces of the earth we owned. So, after completing my Ph.D. in agri-food processing and management training at IIM-A, I started S4S Technologies (S4S) – a food processing company.
S4S stands for Science For Society.
Building S4S, I have combined my engineering know-how with an innovative business model. At S4S we create lead farm-gate food factories.
I have committed myself to empower farmers by leveraging technology and providing markets, creating a win-win solution for the environment, the farmers, and the customers. I hold multiple patents in food processing and renewable energy.
I am building a business that has five key pillars:
- Serve farmers and customers
- Scale rapidly
- Create an impact on people and the environment
- Build a high-performing team
- Be profitable
S4S works across the ecosystem with a range of private, government, and agri-value chain members under a single umbrella, creating and delivering solutions for the environment and the farmers.
MB: Please introduce your business and the problems you’re trying to solve.
VT: India’s $240 billion food processing sector is outdated, inefficient, and untapped. S4S is transforming the sector, building the agri-food sector’s “middle layer,” a full-stack food processing platform producing healthy convenience-driven food ingredients and driving impact through tech-driven farmgate sourcing and processing.
S4S’ integrated technology platform allows efficient sourcing and processing, creating a sustainable competitive advantage, shrinking losses by up to 40%, and reducing logistics costs by a further 5-7%.
13 million food service customers, 250,000 small food manufacturers, and 40,000 large food manufacturers create a massive, underserved market opportunity.
Our focus is to solve the problem of food waste in the agri-food supply chain and enhance the income of smallholder farmers by providing them with the right combination of market, technology, and access to finance.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now and what support do you need?
VT: As we scale rapidly at both the farmer’s end and the customer end, we need to build a robust digital technology platform that can enable our growth. Finding the right mentorship and connections to human capital will be of great help in building the software platform.
MB: What is your ambition for the future of your business?
VT: At S4S, we plan to reach over 1 million farmers in five years, making a deep impact on their lives. In doing so, S4S will build the world’s largest decentralised food processing platform – operating from the villages for the world.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
VT: Rural-agri customers are the largest-untapped customer base. Creating value-driven products for these customers is whitespace and can create large, profitable businesses whilst deeply impacting their lives.
MB – Tell us a mistake you’ve learned from:
VT – Fail fast, learn fast. Build basics, scale fast.
MB – How do you spend your time away from work?
VT – I love movies – all types.
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
VT – Cash flow is the blood for the company.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
VT – “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
VT – Reading more books!
MB – What’s one thing you want to achieve in 2022?
VT – Build a business to serve 100,000 farmers.
Discover the other leaders recognised on the 2021 MB100, for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Global Goals, here.