Elaborating a business model and a launch plan for My Food Story – a web platform that provides farmers of organic food with a professional internet presence showcasing their work and products. Consumers can inform themselves about the whole chain of production of their food. By applying lean startup and the current knowledge on how to build a matchmaking platform.

The startup idea: Helping farmers promote their organic products

The idea of My Food Story was presented by Nicolas at the Startup Weekend Aix-Marseille 2016. Nicolas wants to build a web platform that connects farmers of organic food with their clients. The platform solves the problem that most organic farmers don’t have a professional web presence and are not properly recognized and compensated for the work they put into producing organic food. The consumers don’t know where their food is coming from and can’t distinguish organic products.

The teamwork: Developing the business model, the launch plan and the website for the organic food platform

Nicolas was supported by Damien, Ajit, Frédéric, Cyprien, Marie-Hélène and me. With backgrounds in IT development, web design and business, we did customer development, developed a business model and a launch plan, and designed a working website as a minimum viable product.

The platform serves farmers by showcasing their work and products in form of food stories and producer profiles to help them create a professional web presence and tell the story of their food production. Consumers are directed to these food stories and profiles from various channels, including at the point-of-sale at distributors. Via these food stories and a community, organic farmers can connect with consumers, inform them, and promote their products. We validated the problem and the solution with farmers, distributors and consumers. Based on that we developed a business model with freemium pricing for farmers and further revenue streams from distributors.

As the founder, Nicolas has led the team exemplary – driven to realize his idea and at the same time flexible enough so that the team members could make the idea their own and contribute.

Nicole’s contribution: How to apply the anatomy of a successful matchmaking platform to your idea

I have advised and mentored the founder and team on the development of the value proposition, the business model and the launch plan for the platform. I particularly enjoyed going out and talking to farmers and consumers of organic products in Aix-en-Provence.

Nicolas’ idea was an occasion to reflect on and apply the the current knowledge on how to build a matchmaking platform.

Reduce a friction. A matchmaking platform creates value by reducing a friction problem that is keeping willing buyers and sellers apart; it does so by reducing transaction cost or helping people do things they could not do before. Nicolas has realized that there are selling cooperations with standards for organic farmers, but their marketing does not have a long reach. With his matchmaking platform, he wants to make it easier for farmers and consumers of organic products to find each other and communicate directly, to facilitate sales of organic food. Organic distributors get access to a younger clientele.

Secure critical mass and create a thick market. To launch and run a matchmaking platform, you need to acquire enough of the right participants from both sides to create a thick market. In a thick market, the members from both sides and their offers are relevant to the other side so that many good matches happen. By cooperating with organic distributors, Nicolas wants to acquire the existing buyers of organic food as early adopters to his platform and match them with acquired farmers from the region. Being present at the point-of-sale is facilitating to be part of the information search of consumers when buying organic food.

Create your own resources. One underlying principle of all matchmaking platforms is that they work with abundant external resources they don’t own. This implies a higher potential to scale as well as platform governance to manage this abundance of external resources well. Nonetheless, to create and capture value on the long run, matchmaking platforms need to create their own key activities and key resources. Next to facilitating interactions between farmers and consumers, Nicolas intends to build a user base of farmers and consumers of organic food in the region, internal processes to professionally create the food stories, and a recognized organic brand.

The result: A verified business model and a platform design to serve farmers and consumers of organic food

Now Nicolas has a website to serve as a minimum viable product, a business model and a launch plan, as well as a platform design for his startup idea to match farmers and consumers of organic food from the region. He can launch his platform within a region like Provence and then expand to France and beyond to tap into the growing market of organic food.

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