Matthew Sanford grew up wondering how the food system worked. No one in his family is in the industry, so he explored his curiosity.
“I had recognized the agriculture industry has its challenges and many inefficiencies,” he said.
It was a time when farmers’ markets were starting to boom and become a major trend in the U.S.
He decided to grow a small hydroponic tomato farm and had to sell and market his tomatoes.
“I realized quickly how hard it was to be a small farmer, to deal with a farmers’ market, to deal with little sales here and there, and have to deal with a business that had a lot of overhead,” said Sanford, CEO of Agulus. “So, you’re looking at these really low margins, high overhead, and looking at all the other farmers and wondering how they’re doing it.”
He said he then realized there are subsidies and tax breaks, programs and other things that prop up agriculture.
“But no one talks much about how little farmers make and if they continue making so little, they will all start to go out of business,” said Sanford. “And since, that has been the trend.”
Enter Agulus, a Greenville-based technology company focused on providing innovative software solutions by offering real-time risk exposure, market positioning, hedging, forward contracting and business operating technologies for large agribusinesses to empower the American agriculture industry with supply chain automation technology.
The company connects farmers, brokers, advisors and more in one platform. Agulus makes it easy for agribusinesses to work together by providing software that doesn’t have to be overly complicated and frustrating to consumers.
“We enjoy being able to provide these tools to farmers,” said Sanford. “We spend a lot of time trying to find a path to provide our technology to those who have trouble with access to it.”
Sanford said he originally classified the technology company as a startup three years ago, which wasn’t a good fit, so it changed up its model last year and went back to the basics in building the business by reaching out to agribusinesses directly, offering their services.
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Since the agriculture industry has been somewhat resistant to change over the years, getting into the agribusiness technology space has been difficult.
“But we are very excited to get through some projects and get our hands on additional products, such as within the dairy industry,” said Sanford. “We plan on bringing more farms directly to the program. That’s really what we are passionate about and how we want to make a big impact. How we feel we can make a big impact is by providing all farms with the same tools and resources.”
Technological advances within the industry will allow for more transparency, better food safety, higher food quality, with more sustainability as the end game, said Sanford.
“We want to make America itself more productive,” he added. “When we look forward to the future, we still have an overpopulation crisis on the entire planet to deal with. The United States is poised to provide solutions to this issue through agriculture, which is why it’s crucial to pay more attention to it.”