An Israeli startup developing Farmster, a mobile matchmaking app connecting potential customers with independent small-scale farmers from remote areas. The startup advocates food security and targets poverty-related challenges faced by small-farm owners around the world.
Nations with high poverty levels, such as India, Zimbabwe and Kenya, possess a great natural advantage: an agriculture-friendly climate. Farmers in these countries can harvest all year round. Nevertheless, small-farm owners often fail to make the most of this due to the lack of channels they could use to connect with customers.
Access to the internet may be solving this issue for some — but not for the poorest ones who do not have this privilege. Most of them own a mobile phone, though. The Farmster service is meant to allow these farmers to communicate their offer to multiple potential customers within their location by sending just one SMS or making a call.
On the opposite end, farm produce buyers can use the Farmster mobile app to find and get in touch with the farmers who have submitted their product details to the database. To make it happen, the startup was looking for a strong tech partner in mobile app development.
One of our previous clients recommended Lotasoft to the founder of Farmster. We offered well-reasoned estimates and responded swiftly from the very first day (which was January 1, by the way). To the client, this was convincing enough to choose us over another strong competitor.
As we rolled up our sleeves, we only had one month to re-work the code left from the original app developer. The product had many imperfections at that stage: bugs, inexistent architecture, incompatibility with earlier Android versions, and many other surprises. The team worked weekdays and weekends to meet the deadline before the client’s live demo in India and pitch at a startup competition.
The initial specification was mostly about new features and further development. However, fixing the original code took as much time and effort. The founder has been deeply involved in the process, which led to close collaboration and ongoing refinement of the requirements. The team addressed the challenge by utilizing the best of Scrum practices, which solved us a lot of trouble.
When it was about time to pitch the startup, we managed to scale up the team and deliver every success-critical feature on time. The success followed indeed in the form of a $140,000 government grant that was awarded to the client.
Adam Abramson, Founder, Farmster: “Lotasoft did a great job of navigating through a relatively complex project in a short amount of time. They were very flexible and able to adapt to my needs on a very short timeframe. I appreciated that even when they reached some technical problems due to my own fault, they were able to overcome them and find solutions.”
The Farmster platform is comprised of three components:
- The Android app
- The back-end
- The admin panel
On the farmer’s side, the process requires no internet connection at all. Prior to harvesting or reaping, they can either contact the call center and provide their product details, or communicate this information by sending a text message.
In the latter case, the information is automatically added to the database. If the farmer chooses to contact the call center, its operators will use the admin panel to create a new entry or a bulk of them.
Customers sign up to the Android app to get access to the whole range of product offers. For users in India, there is the option to register via SMS. We made the process seamless by enabling automatic SMS code input into the registration form to ease it all up.
Users then can sort farmers’ offers by entry date, harvesting date, location, and distance. Once they find a match, they can phone the farmer and discuss further details.
We managed to re-work the original application and make it pitch-ready — all within the estimated timeframe, which was critical to get funding. As a result, the Israel Innovation Authority awarded the product with a public grant worth $140,000, as the top one in the Food Security category.
The app has been welcomed most warmly in its pilot target country, India, and the founder has already showcased the product at numerous trade fairs and business events. Farmster is expanding to ever more countries with similar economic and climate conditions.