ChopLocal - "Etsy of Meat"
Achen's perspective as a turkey producer (Wayland, Iowa) informed the decision to create ChopLocal.
"Helping farmers stay independent is one of the most important things we can do for the rural economy as well as keeping small and medium size businesses thriving," he said. "Lockers and butchers are some of those businesses. When COVID hit and we saw the disruption in supply chains for meat, I began to look for opportunities that would exist when the dust settled. For years we have been battling false claims, consumer distrust, and a lack of transparency in the meat supply chain. I began to strategize how technology could fix this problem. A marketplace where consumers could purchase directly from the butcher or farmer was the idea that came from this and it solves a lot of problems that we had even pre-COVID in the meat supply chain."
Achen and Olthoff were acquainted through the turkey industry as she and her husband also produce turkeys (Stanhope, Iowa).
"When I heard about Jared's idea to create 'The Etsy of Meat', I fell in love with the idea and wanted to be part of it," she said." Our shared passion for helping farmers brought us together, and deeply influences every aspect of our day-to-day work at ChopLocal."
Achen and Olthoff connected about working together on ChopLocal when both attended a direct-to-consumer webinar that the Iowa Cattlemen's Association hosted. "Katie shot me a message asking what the heck I was doing on this webinar," commented Achen. "I lack experience in marketing, communications and sales and knew that Katie could bring those skills as well as vendor connections to ChopLocal."
How did Olthoff come to this point in her professional journey? "Although I was an elementary education major, I have worked in ag communications for nearly ten years," she said." One of my favorite parts of my career has been getting to know a community of professionals and farmers. As we grow ChopLocal, we continue to find incredible value in the relationships we have through Iowa State University."
Is there a difference for Achen in being an agtech startup founder compared to being a farmer? "Farmers can learn from other farmers as well and usually project a linear path of growth if you make good decisions," he commented. "A startup operates with a large amount of uncertainty. Starting out you don't know who your customer will be or even what your developed product or service will be! Or if that product and market will even make money! You have to learn how to make decisions on direction and strategy based on tests implemented within your business. Build, test, learn, improve, repeat."