A new tech platform is giving artisan food entrepreneurs the opportunity to manage their business in one place – from website creation all the way to order fulfillment. This week, AgriNovus Indiana Chief Executive Officer Mitch Frazier talks with Mark Josephson, founder and CEO of Castiron on the latest installment of the Ag+Bio+Science podcast.
They dive into Josephson’s idea for the platform that was born out of Indianapolis-based High Alpha’s Innovation Sprint Week last year, creating opportunity for entrepreneurs and how established systems of success will grow the artisan food industry.
“It was during the pandemic, September 2020, [we saw] how restaurants and food businesses were meeting demand and serving their customers online… and remarkably how many restaurants don’t have online ordering,” said Josephson, who was surprised by the lack of digital support.
Castiron’s platform provides independent, culinary entrepreneurs with a customizable website builder, built-in food-specific information such as ingredients and allergen disclosures, and order and inventory management tools.
“We talked to hundreds of them… passionate, talented entrepreneurs often get into business to thinking that they’re going to get to spend all of their time doing the things that they love. And what they find is they spend 75, 80, 90% of their time on administrative and business things that have nothing to do with making the world’s best sourdough,” explain Josephson. “We thought software could solve those problems.”
Josephson has a track record of tech success. He previously served as chief executive officer of Bit.ly, a URL shortening service, used on social media sites.
In January, the Indianapolis-based tech company closed on a $6 million seed round of funding. The funding round included participation from Bowery Capital in New York, Colorado-based Foundry Group and High Alpha.
“Our artisans, our customers, they’re entrepreneurs. But they’re entrepreneurs by necessity, not entrepreneurs by choice,” explained Josephson. “And what that means is that they’re not, unfortunately, connected to the systems of success that we might take for granted. And so we’re really mission driven to make a difference there.”