FarmAfield

We create connections

The online marketplace that pairs individuals interested in participating in agriculture with producers wanting to maximize their efficiency

Use Case

Our product is popular with people who want to know how their food is grown. We hypothesize that the concept of farming is fascinating; people desire to have a closer connection to agriculture. Additionally, our proposition is valuable to individuals who were raised on a farm or in a rural setting but no longer live there. We hypothesize that many of these people have a desire to participate in agriculture but lack ways to do so. In 2010, there were over 7.8 million Americans between the ages of 15 and 65 who previously lived in rural areas but are now living in non-rural areas. Grain farmers are also a customer base because of the simple diversification our platform can offer to their operations. We believe we can lower farmer’s yearly price volatility by through cattle investment.

Potential

We are creating NEW connections in Agriculture. Our platform will enable micro-consortia, significantly lowering investment thresholds and opening up broader participation in farm investing than previously possible. Initially, we will provide access to feeder cattle contracts. Feeder cattle occupy a stage of the beef production cycle between weaning and slaughter. The value proposition to the feedlot is also one of performance, as the aggregation of many small contractors into large orders will allow the feedlots to operate closer to their maximum capacity. Currently, there are about 20 million cattle on feed in the US annually, which represents about 64% of the total potential capacity. We expect the market to grow as the global consumption of beef is steadily rising.

Business Case

Our team has chosen to use the business model canvas by in the Lean StartUp Method. Drivers - A) Partnership with farmers B) Connection to Agriculture C) Ownership in a tangible asset D) Fun/gaming/competition aspect E) Invest in Agriculture culture/lifestyle Unique Value Proposition - A) Convenient platform to find/form Ag partnerships B) Lower financial barriers C) Means of building trust remotely D) Convenient management portal/tools E) Interaction/competition F) Sourcing local products Solutions - A) Marketplace B) Trust feedback mechanism C) Virtual representation D) Progress/growth Revenue - A) Subscription fees B) Brokerage fees (A flat transaction fee plus a three percent transaction fee) C) Ad Supported Customers - A) Consumers B) Grain Farmers C) Cattle Producers

Objectives:

  1. Build an extensive list of potential consumer, producer and grain farmer users - We will also use this list in early product testing.
  2. Begin the software development of our minimum viable product. We will partner with a local software firm and do some programming in-house.
  3. Seek out legal counsel as it relates to production contracts, agriculture investments and large data management.

Team FarmAField

Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

Our Team

Website Mockup - Farmer Version / Published December 21, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Website Mockup - Farmer Version

This is a Mockup of a possible website portal for grain farmers to use our product! This allows them to see their possible risk areas and then an easy access to purchase cattle - all from one page!

Livestock Production Cycle / Published December 21, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Livestock Production Cycle

This graphic shows the typical production cycle for the American cattle industry. Our product focuses on step number 5, the 'finishing stage.' In this stage, large numbers of cattle are closely monitored and fed a precise feed ration to bring the animals to market weight.

Our two customer groups - Consumers and Farmers. / Published December 20, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Our two customer groups - Consumers and Farmers.

We are building an online marketplace for agricultural production contracts to address two main customer problems: excessive income volatility for small farmers, and obstacles preventing individuals outside agriculture from ownership of crops and livestock in small increments.

Volatility in agriculture is inherently higher than volatility in other industries for several reasons (natural shocks, long production times, low elasticity, etc.), and small farmers (producers) lack access and training required to use some of the risk management tools employed by larger producers, which leads to a concentration of risk and excessive income volatility for them. This problem is especially acute for farmers in developing countries who lack even basic risk management tools.
It is also difficult for outside individuals to directly participate in agriculture. Transactions between unfamiliar parties require complicated legal contracts that are unfeasible for small transactions. Large transaction sizes preclude many individuals from participation, and the lack of a transparent marketplace precludes those without a pre-existing relationship with an agricultural producer.

We plan to address the aforementioned problems by providing an online marketplace where the transparent exchange of small production contracts can occur in a safe and efficient manner. This platform will incorporate visualization of the users’ agricultural holdings and analysis tools to provide recommendations for their virtualized farm. The software will combine a game-like interface with functional farm management software to improve the users’ experience and lower barriers to entry for new users. User histories and reputations will be important to build trust and stored value in the network.

A production contract is an agreement between a producer, who is paid to grow a crop or raise livestock, and a contractor, who owns the agricultural product. Essentially, the producer is paid for providing services to the contractor, namely labor, management, expertise, etc. Production contracts can effectively spread a producer’s risk among a wider group of individuals, which can stabilize the producer’s income (risk reduction) while enabling outside individuals to own crops and livestock without needing to relocate or make large investments to achieve economies of scale (improved accessibility).

Competitors / Published December 20, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Competitors

The enormous size of the agricultural market and the tremendous potential of big data in agriculture have attracted many companies to the space, as shown in Figure 3. Some of the biggest competitors in the area of agricultural risk management are the providers of crop insurance, but small farmers have lower utilization rates than large farmers. There are newer insurance products based on climate events rather than estimates of crop loss, and they may be more efficient or acceptable for small farmers, but are still unproven. All of the big agricultural companies have an interest in agricultural data systems and how to incentivize farmers’ utilization of them. There are numerous providers of agricultural management and accounting software, but they are typically stand-alone offerings and thus less resilient to competition.

FarmAfield’s competitive advantage lies largely in its ability to be an end-to-end solution for risk management and decision implementation. Attracting users with our easy-to-use analytics based on public data from their geographic region, we will incentivize farm-specific data input from them by offering them free online record-keeping and management tools along with the promise of increased recommendation accuracy when using their own data rather than public data. As this data accumulates, we can use it to make more accurate predictions and more powerful suggestions for new customers, creating a network effect. The value of our large data sets and the strong network effect created by our users will attract more customers, and serve as a barrier to entry for our competition.

Updated Website - Grain Farmers and Consumers / Published December 20, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Updated Website - Grain Farmers and Consumers

http://www.farmafield.com/

Our team has recently updated our website, so that it includes a new section: Grain Farmers. FarmAfield's platform will satisfy two customer groups, Consumers and Farmers. The new section of the website allows farmers to get a better idea of the price volatility reduction that our product offers. Check it out and click on 'Grain Farmers.'

Our Mission

In the US, it used to be that everyone was a farmer, but now hardly anyone is. My grandfather used to farm, but now no one in my family farms. Unless you have a farm to go to, several thousand dollars to buy a farm, it's pretty difficult to stay directly connected to agriculture. We are trying to change that. We want to let you be connected to agriculture - we want you to be a partner with a cattle farmer. We've build a simple online marketplace for everyday people to invest in cattle. A farmer will raise your cattle, and when the cattle are sold, you'll both get a return on the investment. Right now we offer cattle farming, and we hope to expand it soon.  One day we hope to expand this world wide - we will allow all farmers, especially those in developing countries to use our platform and receive investment from around the world. We are Farmafield, and we want to provide you the chance to connect to agriculture. Are you ready to be a farm owner? 

Our Background

Meet the FarmAfield Team: Brennan Costello - Senior Agribusiness Student. Brennan serves as the team leader for this challenge, though Andrew and Matt may disagree with that. Brennan loves kayaking, Mexican food, creating connections with other people and discussing agriculture issues. Andrew Minarick - Sophomore Bio-systems Engineering Student. Andrew is our software engineer and data man. Andrew loves road tripping, basketball, and finding new solutions for agriculture issues. Matthew Foley - Junior Finance Student. Matt is our chief financial lead and he tries to think he is a designer. Matt loves playing baseball, outlandish pranks and finding new solutions to old systems. We are three students from the University of Nebraska, and all members of FarmHouse Fraternity. In fact, our fraternity is how we came together on this challenge (So yes, you could call us the Frat Bro team). Andrew and Brennan grew up in rural Nebraska and Matt is from Lincoln. Each of us has a strong entrepreneurial interest and are well connected to agriculture. We've been working on our idea for almost a year now and have tried a few different buisness models along the way. Brennan found this challenge and thought FarmAfield would we would be a great fit for it. We like this challenge because it has a worldwide reach, and we think that FarmAfield can create a marketplace to fit within that larger marketplace. We hope to get perspective from agriculturists across the globe! Let's create some connections with FarmAfield!

Website Mockup - Farmer Version / Published December 21, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Website Mockup - Farmer Version

This is a Mockup of a possible website portal for grain farmers to use our product! This allows them to see their possible risk areas and then an easy access to purchase cattle - all from one page!

Livestock Production Cycle / Published December 21, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Livestock Production Cycle

This graphic shows the typical production cycle for the American cattle industry. Our product focuses on step number 5, the 'finishing stage.' In this stage, large numbers of cattle are closely monitored and fed a precise feed ration to bring the animals to market weight.

Our two customer groups - Consumers and Farmers. / Published December 20, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Our two customer groups - Consumers and Farmers.

We are building an online marketplace for agricultural production contracts to address two main customer problems: excessive income volatility for small farmers, and obstacles preventing individuals outside agriculture from ownership of crops and livestock in small increments.

Volatility in agriculture is inherently higher than volatility in other industries for several reasons (natural shocks, long production times, low elasticity, etc.), and small farmers (producers) lack access and training required to use some of the risk management tools employed by larger producers, which leads to a concentration of risk and excessive income volatility for them. This problem is especially acute for farmers in developing countries who lack even basic risk management tools.
It is also difficult for outside individuals to directly participate in agriculture. Transactions between unfamiliar parties require complicated legal contracts that are unfeasible for small transactions. Large transaction sizes preclude many individuals from participation, and the lack of a transparent marketplace precludes those without a pre-existing relationship with an agricultural producer.

We plan to address the aforementioned problems by providing an online marketplace where the transparent exchange of small production contracts can occur in a safe and efficient manner. This platform will incorporate visualization of the users’ agricultural holdings and analysis tools to provide recommendations for their virtualized farm. The software will combine a game-like interface with functional farm management software to improve the users’ experience and lower barriers to entry for new users. User histories and reputations will be important to build trust and stored value in the network.

A production contract is an agreement between a producer, who is paid to grow a crop or raise livestock, and a contractor, who owns the agricultural product. Essentially, the producer is paid for providing services to the contractor, namely labor, management, expertise, etc. Production contracts can effectively spread a producer’s risk among a wider group of individuals, which can stabilize the producer’s income (risk reduction) while enabling outside individuals to own crops and livestock without needing to relocate or make large investments to achieve economies of scale (improved accessibility).

Competitors / Published December 20, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Competitors

The enormous size of the agricultural market and the tremendous potential of big data in agriculture have attracted many companies to the space, as shown in Figure 3. Some of the biggest competitors in the area of agricultural risk management are the providers of crop insurance, but small farmers have lower utilization rates than large farmers. There are newer insurance products based on climate events rather than estimates of crop loss, and they may be more efficient or acceptable for small farmers, but are still unproven. All of the big agricultural companies have an interest in agricultural data systems and how to incentivize farmers’ utilization of them. There are numerous providers of agricultural management and accounting software, but they are typically stand-alone offerings and thus less resilient to competition.

FarmAfield’s competitive advantage lies largely in its ability to be an end-to-end solution for risk management and decision implementation. Attracting users with our easy-to-use analytics based on public data from their geographic region, we will incentivize farm-specific data input from them by offering them free online record-keeping and management tools along with the promise of increased recommendation accuracy when using their own data rather than public data. As this data accumulates, we can use it to make more accurate predictions and more powerful suggestions for new customers, creating a network effect. The value of our large data sets and the strong network effect created by our users will attract more customers, and serve as a barrier to entry for our competition.

Updated Website - Grain Farmers and Consumers / Published December 20, 2015 by Brennan Costello

Updated Website - Grain Farmers and Consumers

http://www.farmafield.com/

Our team has recently updated our website, so that it includes a new section: Grain Farmers. FarmAfield's platform will satisfy two customer groups, Consumers and Farmers. The new section of the website allows farmers to get a better idea of the price volatility reduction that our product offers. Check it out and click on 'Grain Farmers.'

Our Team

Our Mission

In the US, it used to be that everyone was a farmer, but now hardly anyone is. My grandfather used to farm, but now no one in my ...Read More

Our Background

Meet the FarmAfield Team: Brennan Costello - Senior Agribusiness Student. Brennan serves as the team leader for this challenge, though Andrew and Matt may disagree with that. Brennan ...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.