Quite The Pivot

Who is living rent-free inside your head? Are you letting alleged “disruptors” be distractions, or are you spending more time writing your own game plan? 

Here’s one we hear a lot of our readers asking about: Farmers Business Network (FBN.) But it’s only been able to maintain 14,000 active farmer-members, even after expanding to Canada, which is 17.5% of its members, and Australia. Now, after another fundraising round—this time, $250 million—company leaders must answer more questions about profitability, and they’re pivoting. 

FBN is now free. It’s ditched its paid-member model. Since the announcement, the company has added 1,500 new members. 

Also, in the past year, FBN quietly acquired a handful of seed genetics and research companies. 

Its largest growth has been in its financing programs, but there are questions around member engagement with its agronomic portfolio. Its Seed Finder product, where farmers submit seed tags, doesn’t average more than three submissions per member. And FBN is offering large incentives for members to sign on to become local warehouses.

We’ll see how it plays out, but much of it is starting to resemble the traditional ag retail playbook rather than a lightning bolt of innovation from Silicon Valley. 

Chart your path. Know your customers more and deeper to answer to their needs, and show how you demonstrate value (more on this in our cover story.)

The shortest distance from point A to point B is a straight line. But life, particularly in agriculture, is rarely that simple. As professionals in the channel that serves farmers, you bob and weave. Successful ag retailers have found success by sticking close to their customers to deliver value.


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