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Michigan start-up service seeing rapid growth

A Michigan-based start-up service aimed at increasing agriculture productivity is quickly attracting clients just months after it was launched. Two Michigan men, 23 and 24, started the company after graduating from college in 2011 and living for several months in Silicon Valley in 2012. The pair launched FarmLogs, a set of digital tools designed to help farmers manage their businesses, after relocating to Michigan. The business already has paying customers on six continents and $1 million from investors like Detroit's First Step Fund and Ann Arbor's Huron River Ventures.

The men say they decided to start FarmLogs after they noticed local farmers did not have access to technology that could help them better operate their businesses. One of the company's cofounders stated that most people were still keeping their records on papers and spreadsheets and they realized that their backgrounds put them in the perfect position to help them.

FarmLog's beta release was made available through a website and a smartphone app in 2012, giving users the ability to monitor records, assess crop production, track prices and record information like planting and harvesting dates to make it easier to comply with insurance regulations and federal rules. The new technology was lauded by investors and commentators, with Huron River Ventures's managing director calling the app a "quantum leap in productivity" for the agriculture industry. He said that FarmLog can save farmers hours each day, which translates to thousands of dollars' worth of savings due to increased efficiency.

A 250-acre Michigan dairy farm, among FarmLog's first clients, is one of the company's success stories and still uses the app today. The family-run farm uses FarmLog on their smartphones and an iPad instead of paper files and calendars. One of the family members said the app has proved to dramatically streamline the way the farm keeps track of important data.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Ann Arbor-based start-up's farming app is growing fast," Nathan Bomey, March 31, 2013

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