Two Hoosier entrepreneurs say their new online marketplace will strengthen the connection between farmers and consumers by disrupting the traditional grocery model of food distribution. FarmersMarket.com is billed as a one-stop shop for farmers, artisans and consumers. Co-founder Chris Baggott, a software entrepreneur who co-founded ExactTarget, says the model will create new markets for farmers and wealth for local communities. "In Indiana we eat $17.8 billion worth of food a year and we import more than 90 percent of that," notes Baggott. "We export low margin commodities and import high margin food. If we can keep that margin here, the way you create wealth community wealth is keeping dollars circulating in that community."
The FarmersMarket.com model involves working with food hubs, grocery stores, farmers, small food processors and directly with the consumer to create new, "tech-enabled" markets for home grown food. "Farmers want to grow food," says co-founder Nick Carter, another software entrepreneur who was raised on a family farm. "But they have to have access to the marketplace. On the Internet, there is no shortage of shelf space like there is in a grocery store."
FarmersMarket.com pilot markets are live and accepting orders in Fishers and Zionsville. Additional markets in Carmel, Broad Ripple, Plainfield, Greenwood, Westfield and Kokomo could launch as soon as this month, according to the company’s website.
This is not the first venture for Baggott and Carter, who view the local food movement as a "business of passion."
The duo launched Husk in 2013, which placed its line of Hoosier-grown frozen vegetables in more than 300 grocery stores in Indiana and throughout the Midwest. Last month, Husk was acquired by Lifeline Farms LLC, an organic vegetable operation in Connersville.
In 2010, Baggott acquired Tyner Pond Farm in Hancock County, with a goal to "feed people not profits." He also owns The Mug, a long-time Greenfield drive-in restaurant that now is a popular farm-to-table destination.
Last year, Baggott co-founded ClusterTruck, a startup focused on innovation in food delivery.
A serial entrepreneur, Baggott’s long career in the software industry included some high-profile hits. He was a co-founder of ExactTarget, which sold to Salesforce in 2013 for $2.5 billion. That same year, Compendium Software, which he co-founded in 2007, sold to tech giant Oracle Corp.
In 2015, TechPoint recognized Baggott with its prestigious Trailblazer in Technology award.