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SF Q&A: Jesse Vollmar

When FarmLogs was launched in 2011, its founders were filling a void with their agronomic data science platform. Fast forward to today, and that once-desolate field has become very crowded. 

“We were innovating way beyond what anyone else was doing at the time,” says Jesse Vollmar, CEO of FarmLogs. “Now your seed dealers or agronomists can set you up on a system that is free or cheap when you buy product from them. It doesn’t make good business sense to compete with companies who are subsidizing their software platforms to enhance their product sales.”

As the Michigan start-up looks to its future, Vollmar shares the company’s plan going forward.

SF: Why shift from focusing primarily on agronomic data science and tools to marketing tools?
JV: Most farmers are good at pushing yields, but the majority struggle with not having a simple and easy way to make sure they can sell their bushels at a profit. We know we can make a far greater impact on the future of farming by helping growers manage what really matters: the price they need to sell their crops at in order to be profitable. 

We regularly ask our customers about the biggest challenges they face. The number one response is dealing with the markets. We’ve always been focused on farmers’ bottom lines, but now, more than ever, we need to solve the fundamental problem of improving profitability. 

SF: What marketing tools do you currently offer?
JV: Earlier this year, we launched a new marketing tool that helps growers quickly and easily calculate their cost of production, evaluate profit opportunities, and monitor the value of their crop throughout the season. We’re continuing to add more capabilities just about every week with a really exciting new development launching this summer.

SF: How is the FarmLogs marketing tool different from other crop marketing tools?
JV: We work really hard to keep things simple. We understand that, for most growers, marketing can be daunting and isn’t all that enjoyable. Our research shows that over 80% of growers don’t have a marketing tool other than a custom spreadsheet that they put together or a simple scratch pad calculation. As such, they tend to leave a lot of money on the table. 

We want to make it a whole lot easier for farmers to get paid more and to better manage their risk. Most marketing tools are either way too complicated and you give up on them, or they just don’t add enough value. 

We are making it much easier to know exactly how making a sale or hedge will impact your profitability. We actually calculate it for you weighed against all the other factors like estimated basis, yield, and previous sales. A really complex powerful spreadsheet could do that, too. What it can’t do is update automatically as the markets are moving. That’s just one of the areas where using FarmLogs is much easier and more valuable than a spreadsheet. 

There may be plenty of places that will show you what the markets are doing, but none of them really tell you what that translates to specifically for your operation. FarmLogs does that.

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