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Founders

Company

FarmLogs

201 E. Liberty St
Ste #1
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Jesse Vollmar

FarmLogs recently closed on a $4 million round of venture capital and is hiring a bunch of computer programmers at its Ann Arbor headquarters. Its software is used across the U.S. less than a year after it was released. And a lot of that success is because the startup's co-founders knew where to look for opportunity.

"A good hint about where software can be disruptive is where there are big players that have been around a while," says Jesse Vollmar, CEO of FarmLogs.

Vollmar and FarmLogs co-founder Brad Koch grew up in rural areas in Michigan's thumb region. They left the farm behind, went to college and started running with tech startup crowds. That’s when they got the idea for FarmLogs, bringing analytical software to farmers to help make their businesses run more efficiently.

Koch and Vollmar came up with the idea in Silicon Valley's Y Combinator but moved the startup to Ann Arbor to be closer to rural America. The pair raised $1 million in seed capital a year ago and launched FarmLogs’ platform shortly after. Today farms in every state and 130 other countries are using it. Vollmar estimates 5 percent of row-crop farms in the U.S. are employing it.

That leaves FarmLogs with a big market to capitalize on. Vollmar knew it was there for the taking because he saw farmers, like his parents, using computer technology that hadn’t changed in years, if not decades, if they were using computers at all.

"I could see the only software that was built for the agriculture industry was much lower quality than what I would want," Vollmar says. "If I had stuck around my family’s farm I know I would have been frustrated with it."

How bad was it?

"The stuff they were trying to use was bought on a CD still," Vollmar says. He adds that things like ancient desktop computers, manual information input and paper record keeping were commonplace.

Software has been slow to come to agriculture until FarmLogs came around. Vollmar explains that its because so many of the players were large corporations that were not only resistant to change but practically incapable of it.

"They only can think the way they have been thinking for the last 75 years," Vollmar says. He adds that results lacked when they did try to break out of their old ways and develop their own software. "They are so corpratey," Vollmar says. "They did a terrible job with the backend."

Vollmar and Koch knew the best way to bring change is to bring a fresh perspective that emphasizes simplicity.

"Introducing simplicity is important. Also design," Vollmar says. "You look at this and you can’t believe they have been doing for so long."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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