Olin alums launch startup connecting farmers to consumers

  • July 17, 2020
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 3 minute read

WashU alumni Noah Offenkrantz, LA 2020, and Ben Green, BSBA 2020, recently launched Find Your Farmer, an online marketplace allowing consumers to order fresh produce, meats and cheese from local farmers.

While at Wash U, the CEO of our organization, Noah Offenkrantz, took several courses that analyzed the industrial agricultural system. Noah’s experience with the agricultural system transcended the classroom.

During an internship experience at a local STL nonprofit, Noah learned about issues of food access while managing a community garden. During his tenure abroad in India, Noah worked on a farm while studying the impact of the Green Revolution on a small, rural village. These experiences bolstered a notion that was introduced by his teachers and furthered by his observations of the world.

Broken system

This notion, the one that inspired FYF, goes like this: our agricultural system is broken. Grocery stores are stocked with artificially colored, synthetically ripened vegetables that travel thousands of miles and touch countless hands before ending up on crowded shelves. We have no idea where this food comes from or how it was raised but we add it to our cart because it’s cheaper. Cheaper in nutrients and cheaper in taste. The answer to these problems is simple. Find your farmer. Find out who they are and what they grow. We wanted to give people an easy outlet to do just that.

We plan to start off in St. Louis to understand how the market works and what people want out of a service like ours, and then move into other cities throughout the United States, employing the lessons we learn along the way. 

Our team consists of five Washington University students and one Washington University professor (our mentor). At WashU, Noah was in the College of Arts & Sciences and studied global health and environment, while Ben was in Olin Business School and studied finance and accounting. The rest of our team members are Anish Naik, who studied computer science; Spencer Stewart, who studied political science; Francis Serrano, who studied biology and Peter Boumgarden, who has experience in strategic management and serves as the director of the Center for Experiential Learning. 

Our company has taken Olin’s pillars of excellence into great consideration. We are a values-based company that strives to foster community, protect the planet and promote the health and wellbeing of our clients. Our pro-social mission—to create a world where every person knows their farmer by name and story—is an extension of the Olin philosophy. As we learned at WashU, every company has an ethical obligation to the planet and society. FYF intends to consider this obligation at every stop along our journey. And this isn’t the only Olin teaching that we apply in our business philosophy.

FYF is a data-driven company.

We use data to show people how their purchases can impact themselves and the world around them. In addition, we leverage experimental testing to develop and adapt an ideal user experience. 

FYF is globally oriented.

We analyze best practices from many different services and offer a variety of features to ensure that our service meets the demands of our target population. 

FYF is experiential.

We strive to offer people a better idea of our farmers’ practices and motivations by providing videos and interviews that provoke customer engagement. In addition, we are committed to developing strong, personal relationships with our partnering farms. 

FYF is entrepreneurial.

We studied trends and took advantage of a perceived opportunity. For example, we noticed that COVID has pushed more and more people to shop online. The disease also demonstrated to farmers the vulnerability of wholesale revenue streams.

Our goal is to leverage the lessons that we learned through our academic studies to create a service that supports local farmers, builds farmer-consumer relationships, provides individuals with healthier, tastier food products and cuts down on carbon emissions. Every order made through our platform serves to further these goals.

Check us out online.

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