Independent and Unbiased: Why It Matters to Us and to You

Written by Jesse Vollmar, Co-Founder & CEO of FarmLogs
December 21, 2016

We live in a world where big business has been built up around farming. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you look at where the margins are in farming and how they have shifted over the decades, the farmer is getting squeezed from every angle. Input costs go up, commodity prices go down. Farms remain small while the input providers grow larger and larger through mergers and acquisitions. This consolidation has happened at the supplier level, but also at the farm level—making it increasingly difficult for the family farm to remain independent and profitable. Bumper crops only matter if they come with profits.

When I was first thinking of starting FarmLogs back in 2011, it was obvious to me that the opportunity was to create technology that helped farmers use data to become more profitable. Farmers is the key word in that last sentence. While other ag technology companies sell their products through dealers or agents, we chose to work directly with you, the grower.

The reason is simple: at the end of the day, the grower is the one farming the ground and living the risk of the business. By building a direct relationship, FarmLogs doesn’t have to support a middleman and can leave more of the profit on the farm.

In addition, independence allows us to have a singular focus of helping you make every acre as profitable as it can be regardless of what other providers you work with. Our economic incentives are aligned with our farmers. We don’t sell software to move more inputs. We partner with you to make your operation more efficient. Simple as that.

What that means is FarmLogs can give completely unbiased analysis and recommendations. We are happy to recommend cutting back on seed, chemicals, or fertilizer if we believe it will increase your profit.

By not selling inputs, we don’t have to worry about growers cutting back their orders or going to a lower margin product. Our job is to simply and responsibly help you get value out of information so you can farm more profitably.

Just one of the ways we are investing in helping all farmers become more profitable is through our free app, FarmLogs Standard. When we were first launching the paid version of FarmLogs, we needed to come up with a different name for the free version. We picked “Standard” because we believed that a tool like this would become just as standard on the farm as the tractor.

It is free so that every row crop grower can afford to have it as a standard tool on their farm.

Don’t get me wrong. FarmLogs is not a charity. We want to make money just as badly as we want you to. We do, however, view our revenue as a source of capital to be re-invested back into the product and software platform to continue creating additional value for our customers. The more customers we earn business from, the more we can continue to innovate and advance our mission to create a better future for farming. We have to, and we want to, earn every dollar we ask for.

When you partner with us, you are investing in the future of your farm—not in the bottom line of an input provider’s business.

I want to close this post with one final thought. When I’m recruiting new people to the FarmLogs team, I sometimes get asked, “What’s your exit strategy?”

In venture capital backed businesses like ours, the ‘exit’ is where investors are able to get their money back and employees are given the opportunity to sell their stock. This usually happens either by selling the company to an acquirer, or going public. Exits are a way for people that took a huge risk early in the business and put in a lot of hard work building the company to be rewarded. It’s a fair question to be asked and my answer is always the same: I didn’t start FarmLogs to “exit” it.

I started FarmLogs because I thought the world needed it to exist.

I saw the lack of technology innovation in farming. I saw the increasing profit squeeze for farmers. And, I recognized the opportunity to help farmers solve the challenge of making more informed agronomic and economic decisions.

My goal with my team and our investors is not to sell the company, but rather to build something that creates enormous value for our customers, employees, and shareholders alike. At FarmLogs, the mission comes first. The goal is to create a better future for farming. My personal goal is to build a business that can be self-sustaining and will continue to provide innovation and precision in agricultural methods and decisions for decades to come.

That isn’t a promise that we won’t sell, but rather an honest statement about why we exist and how I, as the CEO, think about building the company. With over ¼ of the row crop acres in the U.S. on our platform after only 4 years, we are well on the way to delivering on the mission. We are here to make every acre more profitable and we believe being an independent and unbiased company will help us be the best at achieving that goal. Thank you for allowing us to work with you and your farm, whether on the free or paid versions of our products. Together, we can create a better future for farming.


Jesse Vollmar, Co-Founder & CEO of FarmLogs

Author

Jesse Vollmar, Co-Founder & CEO of FarmLogs Jesse Vollmar is co-founder and CEO of FarmLogs, the leading data science company focused on helping farmers use technology to create a better future for their farms. Since launching FarmLogs in 2012, Vollmar has grown the company to over $25 billion in crops under management and has raised $15 million in capital. He grew up on his family's fifth-generation farm in Michigan and graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a BS in Computer Information Systems. Vollmar was named to the Forbes “30 under 30” list in 2014.