As more and more people turn to local and organic farms for their food supply, some farmers are having a hard time keeping up with the surge in demand. While they get to earn more doing what they do best (i.e., growing food), they also suddenly have to deal with sales, customer service, and admin work. Aside from not being prepared or having enough experience to handle these aspects, farmers can find the additional workload to be stressful as well.
As Kiwi entrepreneur Will Lau found out, one farmer from South Island, New Zealand had to decrease his number of customers from 600 to 150 because the immense workload was compromising his family life. Believing that the solution was pretty simple, Lau launched an online app to assist community supported agriculture and farm-to-consumer businesses in 2011.
Bucky Box is a web-based service which Lau describes as a mix between Salesforce and FedEx. Still in private beta testing phase, Bucky Box helps farmers take orders online and automate their billing and delivery logistics, among other features. The system promises to be easy to use and cut down time spent on admin work from two days to only a couple of hours a week. Users pay a small fee on a per delivery basis.
Bucky Box is a social enterprise, though, so two-thirds of annual profits are reinvested in projects and organizations that support food education and organic farming research. The remaining third goes back to the company’s investors.
Lau’s mission for Bucky Box is to improve the global food system and make it easier for independent food businesses to compete with the big boys. “Customers want local, fresh, direct food. It’s just a problem for small farms to be financially viable. If we can remove the major impediment to these guys selling direct, it should help them.”