First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Gonzalo Úrculo: We are all safe, thank you for asking. I am especially concerned about the situation of the elderly, and grateful for being able to work.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined crowdfarming.com
Gonzalo Úrculo: I started my career in the logistics sector. But then, when I was 23 years old, I started a farm project together with my brother Gabriel. We quit our jobs in the city, went to a rural town near Valencia, and became orange farmers. All the other farmers knew much more than us about orange farming. My brother had some knowledge about web design and we launched naranjasdelcarmen.com to sell directly the oranges we were cultivating. We became farmeneurs.
All the other farmers in town were selling their oranges to intermediaries through the traditional food supply chain. We had the opportunity to sell directly to households all over Europe and this gave as not just a fair price, but also the opportunity to receive feedback from consumers. My grandfather was an orange farmer for 30 years, and he never received any feedback for his oranges because he never knew where his oranges ended up.
In 2017, after 7 years dedicated to cultivating and selling oranges we partnered with Juliette and Moisés and launched a platform to help other farmers sell their products: it was the beginning of crowdfarming.com.
How does crowdfarming.com innovate?
Gonzalo Úrculo: The CrowdFarming model allows consumers to adopt a tree, an animal, or a piece of garden, and receive their food directly from the farmers. By adopting something you take part in the cultivation process of your food and this totally changes your experience as a consumer.
Going to the supermarket to buy your food is a completely different experience from buying it directly from the farmer.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Gonzalo Úrculo: Farmers have had work like never before, and have demonstrated their commitment with society as essential workers. Consumers are more concerned about what they are eating, how their food was cultivated, and even how much the farmers are receiving.
These ingredients have generated a boost in direct sales from farmers to consumers.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Gonzalo Úrculo: We learn every day from consumers (we like to call them our presidents), working colleagues, providers, etc. Learning something new everyday is what makes you start your working day motivated.
There are difficult choices you need to make, usually arising from simple problems. My trick is to accept that some decisions you make will end-up being wrong. The ability you need to develop is to be fast in detecting where you were wrong, and correct it.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and crowdfarming.com in the future ?
Gonzalo Úrculo: I find sharing what stresses you with people you trust to be a very helpful way to put in perspective your own worries.
I love food, farming, and tech. My job is also one of my favorite hobbies so I feel very lucky. I hope to be useful for the company and for my team during two or three more decades before I can dedicate myself to driving my tractor full time.
We believe that small & medium organic farmers will grow thanks to direct sales: CrowdFarming is and will be there to make this happen.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Gonzalo Úrculo: Supermarkets. They are much bigger and have much more experience than us in the food supply chain. They are the best competitors to learn from.
Your final thoughts
Gonzalo Úrculo: The act of buying food is the most powerful daily routine that we all have to make a social and environmental impact.