Team Coolify

Cambridge, United States

  • Science / Engineering
  • Agricultural Production / Productivity
  • Asia

Our Team

Coolify - a micro cold storage solution / Published October 31, 2014 by Rajat Sethi

Coolify - a micro cold storage solution

Post-harvest agricultural supply chain constitutes harvesting, storage, processing transportation & marketing. Losses in this value chain are a critical bottleneck for global food security. Most of the low-income countries have 30-40% post-harvest losses in perishable horticultural produce resulting from high ambient temperatures and humidity.

Cold storages therefore lie at the very heart of agricultural logistics. India provides a perfect example of the importance of cold storage. India ranks 2nd globally in fruit and vegetables (F&V) production and has a thriving $12B cold storage industry. However, conventional storage systems in these markets are highly centralized around major export cities and involve huge capital expenditure. Furthermore, 80% of total capacity is utilized the storage of potatoes resulting in no room for horticultural produce. This leads to a spoilage rate of over 30% of F&V.

Coolify is a micro-cold storage business solution to serve the back end of F&V supply chains in India. It envisions decentralizing the cold storage market by setting up cheap modular units close to the harvest points. We propose to set up single chamber vacuum insulated panel (VIP) based cold storage units. Each unit has a capacity of approximately 1500 cubic feet, stores 5-10MT of perishables and has a capital expenditure of $8,500 ~ $12,000 compared to $1.5M required for traditional bulk cold storages. The cold storage has been designed using the modern VIP technology that has extraordinary insulation levels, thereby minimizing the energy requirements. It further allows the whole system to be powered by a solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

The Fruits & Vegetables (F&V) cold chain suffers from four major problems:
1. Food grains (wheat) and potatoes occupy the majority of the cold storage capacity. Wherever you might expect some free capacity, they are generally located around export cities far off from the harvest points. This makes the transportation costs prohibitively high. Dedicated storage facility catering to the need of perishable produce does not exist.
2. Due to lack of any immediate storage, farmers have to reach the market immediately post harvest. This forces them to sell in auction markets (mandis) at prices determined by the traders. A short-term storage of 10-12 days will give them the crucial power to look out for alternative markets for better pricing. This will also reduce the daily transportation cost and time incurred to avail the local markets almost daily. Furthermore, price instability is the most common reason cited by farmers for not growing cash crops and relying on much stable food grain production. The ability of farmers to hold their produce for longer will smooth out peaks and troughs in the volatile mandis. In turn, the stabilization will mitigate farmers’ loses.
3. Currently there are a very few ripening facilities available to farmers in India. Consequently, they are forced to use harmful chemicals to ripen F&V post harvest. This is injurious to health and goes against the organic farming mission. This problem can be addressed by deploying cheap storage units called Ripening Chambers.
4. Cold Storage is the most energy intensive part of agricultural supply chains. Lack of adequate energy supply in rural areas and rising energy rates are serious problems faced by the cold storage sector. The need for adopting various energy saving methods is now being increasingly realized. Insulation panels provide high energy efficiency and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems eliminate grid power dependency. The pairing of thermal ice storage with PV systems provides a reliable system without expensive batteries, in a region dominated by intermittent electric grids and access to sunlight.

Coolify addresses these problems by offering a facility which is accessible, available for short term storage and within the monetary and physical reach of an average farmer.

The Coolify team is strongly committed to the overall vision of the organization i.e. to improve the livelihood of the critically marginalized farmers in the developing countries. We have ensured that we stick to this core principle in all formats of our intervention. We believe that our enterprise will be able to prosper and be successful only if we have full trust and support of all the key stakeholders in the agricultural value chain.

Our Mission

225 million Indians are critically malnourished. Paradoxically, out of the 180 million tons of vegetables and fruits produced every year in India, 40% is wasted in post harvest supply chains due to high temperature and humidity levels. This is a whopping $6 billion vegetable wastage. Cold storage based supply chain is an effective solution to this problem. However, India has only 5,400 cold storage facilities which cater to a mere 10% of the requirement. These are usually capital intensive, large scale cold storage units, meeting the requirements of only rich farmers. A sea of small farmers is completely left out. We, a team of students from MIT and Harvard got together to create Coolify - a micro cold storage based techno-business solution which is an order cheaper than conventional storage, is energy efficient and works in a decentralized manner. Coolify's mission is to provide a solution to reduce supply chain losses for fruits and vegetables and empower the small scale farmers . Currently we are trying to pilot our cold storage as a service solution in the Ganges plains of North India and also in East African food belts. Coolify was titled US's most innovative agriculture company in 2014 and was awarded a sum of $100,000 by US Department of Agriculture & Buffett Foundation.

Our Background

Coolify's team comprises of four members who are students and graduates of MIT and Harvard University. Our detailed profiles are as below: 1. Rajat Sethi: He is a graduate from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Kharagpur) Class of 2009 with Majors (BTech & MTech) in Computer Science and Minor Degree in Economics. He is currently a 2nd year student pursuing a Joint Degree - Masters in Public Administration at Harvard Kennedy School and MBA at MIT Sloan School. He has been awarded with the prestigious Aga Khan Fellowship for his leadership roles in developing countries. He has been working as a social entrepreneur at the intersection of Technology, Policy and Tech-aided Development in sectors spanning across Rural Telecom Infrastructure, Clean Energy (Solar Power) and its derivative products for Agribusiness. He has also served as a Consultant at IFC, World Bank Group on Impact Investment. Rajat works on Product Launch and Business Development at Coolify. 2. David Martin Warsinger: David is currently a PhD student at MIT. His research focuses on Membrane Distillation, an up-and-coming renewable water desalination technology. David performs his experimental work at his lab setup and office in the Rohsenow Heat and Mass Transfer Lab at MIT, and is affiliated with the Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy. He specializes in Thermodynamic and Heat Transfer Analysis, Heating, Cooling, and Air Conditioning System (HVAC) Design, Renewable Energy Technology and Economic Analysis. David’s experience includes several startups, including designing HVAC systems as an engineer at Arup, and he holds numerous patents. David leads Product Development at Coolify. 3. Ananth Raj Gudipati: is currently a consultant at the World Food Program and has completed Masters in Public Administration at Harvard Kennedy School. Ananth has been involved in the development sector for several years, with experience in SME development, Agriculture and ICT for development sector. He previously worked with TechnoServe leading their agriculture value chains and SME projects. Ananth worked with Dalberg leading their Agriculture Mechanization and Processing sector mapping in India and East Africa for a Japanese private sector consortium. Prior to TechnoServe, he worked on the Stanford University-RDVP led “Computer on Wheels” project. He is a gold medalist in MBA in Rural Management from KIIT University, India and holds degree in Engineering in Telecommunication from Visweswariah Technological University, Bangalore. 4. Santiago Arias Duval: is currently a 2nd year MBA student at MIT Sloan School of Management. He spent last summer working in Cisco's Innovation Strategy team assessing the impact of new technologies to its product portfolio and finding ways to monetize these new technologies. Before Sloan, he was a Process Engineer and later a Group Leader at General Motor’s Lake Orion Assembly Plant. In that role he managed a team of 20 engineers, contractors, and skilled trades leading initiatives to decrease downtime, lower costs, and increase throughput and quality. Prior to General Motors he received a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech. Santiago will assist in Industry Collaborations and Business Operations.

Coolify - a micro cold storage solution / Published October 31, 2014 by Rajat Sethi

Coolify - a micro cold storage solution

Post-harvest agricultural supply chain constitutes harvesting, storage, processing transportation & marketing. Losses in this value chain are a critical bottleneck for global food security. Most of the low-income countries have 30-40% post-harvest losses in perishable horticultural produce resulting from high ambient temperatures and humidity.

Cold storages therefore lie at the very heart of agricultural logistics. India provides a perfect example of the importance of cold storage. India ranks 2nd globally in fruit and vegetables (F&V) production and has a thriving $12B cold storage industry. However, conventional storage systems in these markets are highly centralized around major export cities and involve huge capital expenditure. Furthermore, 80% of total capacity is utilized the storage of potatoes resulting in no room for horticultural produce. This leads to a spoilage rate of over 30% of F&V.

Coolify is a micro-cold storage business solution to serve the back end of F&V supply chains in India. It envisions decentralizing the cold storage market by setting up cheap modular units close to the harvest points. We propose to set up single chamber vacuum insulated panel (VIP) based cold storage units. Each unit has a capacity of approximately 1500 cubic feet, stores 5-10MT of perishables and has a capital expenditure of $8,500 ~ $12,000 compared to $1.5M required for traditional bulk cold storages. The cold storage has been designed using the modern VIP technology that has extraordinary insulation levels, thereby minimizing the energy requirements. It further allows the whole system to be powered by a solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

The Fruits & Vegetables (F&V) cold chain suffers from four major problems:
1. Food grains (wheat) and potatoes occupy the majority of the cold storage capacity. Wherever you might expect some free capacity, they are generally located around export cities far off from the harvest points. This makes the transportation costs prohibitively high. Dedicated storage facility catering to the need of perishable produce does not exist.
2. Due to lack of any immediate storage, farmers have to reach the market immediately post harvest. This forces them to sell in auction markets (mandis) at prices determined by the traders. A short-term storage of 10-12 days will give them the crucial power to look out for alternative markets for better pricing. This will also reduce the daily transportation cost and time incurred to avail the local markets almost daily. Furthermore, price instability is the most common reason cited by farmers for not growing cash crops and relying on much stable food grain production. The ability of farmers to hold their produce for longer will smooth out peaks and troughs in the volatile mandis. In turn, the stabilization will mitigate farmers’ loses.
3. Currently there are a very few ripening facilities available to farmers in India. Consequently, they are forced to use harmful chemicals to ripen F&V post harvest. This is injurious to health and goes against the organic farming mission. This problem can be addressed by deploying cheap storage units called Ripening Chambers.
4. Cold Storage is the most energy intensive part of agricultural supply chains. Lack of adequate energy supply in rural areas and rising energy rates are serious problems faced by the cold storage sector. The need for adopting various energy saving methods is now being increasingly realized. Insulation panels provide high energy efficiency and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems eliminate grid power dependency. The pairing of thermal ice storage with PV systems provides a reliable system without expensive batteries, in a region dominated by intermittent electric grids and access to sunlight.

Coolify addresses these problems by offering a facility which is accessible, available for short term storage and within the monetary and physical reach of an average farmer.

The Coolify team is strongly committed to the overall vision of the organization i.e. to improve the livelihood of the critically marginalized farmers in the developing countries. We have ensured that we stick to this core principle in all formats of our intervention. We believe that our enterprise will be able to prosper and be successful only if we have full trust and support of all the key stakeholders in the agricultural value chain.

Our Team

Our Mission

225 million Indians are critically malnourished. Paradoxically, out of the 180 million tons of vegetables and fruits produced every year in India, 40% is wasted in post harvest ...Read More

Our Background

Coolify's team comprises of four members who are students and graduates of MIT and Harvard University. Our detailed profiles are as below: 1. Rajat Sethi: He is a ...Read More

The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.