A conversation with Stijn Markusse, founder of Boerschappen together with his partner Stéphanie Vellekoop, about distribution, packing boxes, telling amazing stories, paying the farmers’ invoices on time, and making sure you also do that in 2-, 5- or 10-years’ time so that the farmer can invest in long term regenerative practices.
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:
It is all about storytelling, good distribution and meeting your customers where they are. How do you commercially build a large company which picks up the fresh produce from farmers and get it to your kitchen in 12 to 24 hours? Learn why it makes so much sense to raise investment money to grow and scale from your customers. Mind you €4m in 72h, and why it is all about the happy flow.
IT IS ALL ABOUT STORYTELLING
At Boerschappen, they sell the farmers’ stories, the effort they make, the adventures they have, and the pictures they take.
“We asked him if he had hail and to make a picture of the damage crop. Three months later, when the pair is ready, we want to communicate what happened three months in advance. And people will understand why the scars are on the pears. And they like the scars, because they understand what happened. So we were not working with the first class […] we buy everything that is available, we buy a kilo of apples and we don’t care about the size.” – Stijn Markusse
“So, our job, together with our farmers, is to make just an easy way. But there can be a lot of problems in the easy way. But these are not a reason to not buy the stuff. I am convinced that if we can tell the stories of the adventures of our farmers, people will even like the product more because they know it’s a real product with some damages.” – Stijn Markusse
WE NEED PEOPLE IN THE HAPPY FLOW
People want to be part of the happy flow, and the happy flow, on Stijn’s opinion, isn’t the organic flow, but the regen flow.
“It’s a happy flow, it’s fulfilling. At this point, we made a data platform in which we can offer content to the right people in the right way, in the right moment. So if we can show people all the stories that our farmers are going through, people are happy because it’s more diversity, more animals, a better products, it’s more beautiful.” – Stijn Markusse
“I see the chain we are building with happy customers, happy middlemen, happier farmers. It sounds too good to be true. But it has an easy approach.” – Stijn Markusse
IF WE WANT THE FARMERS IN TRANSITION WE NEED TO PAY THEIR INVOICES
It is crucial to guarantee a piece of turnover, and to give the farmers the confidence that they will get paid, not only next year, but in five years or in the next 10 years. It becomes difficult because it is all a matter of confidence. If we want to be thoroughly investing in regenerative agriculture, the focus should not be on the next year or the next three years or the next five years. We should talk in decades.
“I think it’s a matter of confidence, and that confidence often comes with money […] So if we can make sure that we pay the invoices, the right invoices at the right moment and the products are ready at the right time, we can tell the right stories at the right moment to the right customers. The only thing that has to happen is transport because people have to eat. And we know that our customers are willing to pay the money they pay because we have a very open way of calculating, so we can spend lots of money on our revenue on products. So my farmers are willing to produce in that way. But they need to have the confidence that they have the right invoice.” – Stijn Markusse
DON’T INVEST IN IMPACT FUNDS WITH 5 TO 7 YEAR TIME HORIZONS
In Stijn’s opinion, we need to make traffic. That is, we need to make sales and revenue, we need invoices, fans and happy people. If we want to have the farmers in transition, we need to pay their invoices and somebody that needs to step into a van and collect their stuff. That is the real economy.
“Don’t go into the so-called impact funds because they still have a window of 5 to 7 years with a multiple of 10 […] It’s crazy. I was really angry. I talked to every impact fund and it’s the same stupid exit window […] If we want this to work, we still can talk to exit windows, but make it in decades and focus on traffic, focus on stories, sales and customers.” – Stijn Markusse
OTHER POINTS DISCUSSED
Koen and Stijn also talked about:
- The difference between a sustainable story and a regenerative story
- Gumroad membership community
- Bringing food from good producers to consumers
- Eurof Uppington on decommodifying olive oil, the largest and most fraudulent crop in the Mediterranean
- Tobias Joos on how to sell the full rotation of diversified regenerative farms to 10000 customers
- Armin Steuernagel on how to keep a mission driven company independent and raise capital
Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.