The president of a new central Indiana-based online local food marketplace believes the model could be adapted nationally and even globally. Nick Carter, who co-founded FarmersMarket.com with serial technology and agriculture innovation entrepreneur Chris Baggott, says the venture is "at its heart, a tech startup." FarmersMarket.com will connect Indiana ag producers and artisans to customers through its website, and distribute purchases through a series of "Market Host" locations.
Carter says Baggott has owned the company’s coveted domain name for years and broached the business concept to him three years ago. At the time, both were launching Hoosier produce brand and processing business Husk LLC. Carter says Baggott "sat on" the domain and business model until they could establish the "value-added preservation" process for the state’s mobile local food industry. "We ‘summited that mountain,’ if you will, and over the last six months started talking about what’s next and realized it was time to start reviving this old idea," Carter tells Inside INdiana Business. "The time is finally right for us to bring this to market."
Carter says the business serves as a conduit to create a market that currently doesn’t exist in Indiana or many other place. The typical method for consumers to receive food is through grocery stores, but he says "unfortunately that’s just not the narrative for a lot of small farmers and artisans." He says grocers don’t have enough shelf space for additional suppliers and some vendors aren’t able to "scale-up" to the capacity required by big chains such as Meijer or Kroger. Even farmer’s markets, he says, have limited room to include multiple types of the same vendor. He says there are currently only a handful of companies throughout the U.S. working in a similar fashion.
Pilot markets have already launched in Fishers and Zionsville and FarmersMarket.com and could expand into Carmel, Broad Ripple, Plainfield, Greenwood, Westfield and Kokomo within a month. Carter says by year’s end, the model could even expand to individual buyer’s clubs hosted in homes by team leaders.
FarmersMarket.com will begin with bases at "complimentary businesses" such as independent grocers, bakeries, butcher shops in central Indiana.
Carter tells Inside INdiana Business the mission is to “create endless markets for local food.”