THE ENTREPRENEURS: Craig Mouchka
President, Growers Edge Inc.
Friday, August 10, 2012 7:00 AM
• Age: 30
• Education: Drake University
• Hometown: Newton
• Previous endeavors: Banking, crop insurance
Isn’t it just like the contemporary entrepreneur to reach for a laptop and search for a wireless connection when you ask, “So what are you up to?”
“Let me show you,” is Craig Mouchka’s reply. “It’s always better to shoot with live bullets than explain a concept.”
Mouchka is president of Growers Edge Inc., a start-up that provides farmers with location-based information on the best prices to be found on any given day for the crops that are their livelihoods.
“Traditionally, farmers check two or three buying locations to see what the market will bear,” he said. “But in a 100-mile radius, there are hundreds of locations. So, is he getting a good feel (for prices) if he’s only checking two or three?”
The issue for farmers is time. They don’t have enough of it, typically.
That’s where Growers Edge comes into play, relying on more than 50 workers, many of them contract employees, who are sitting at computers scattered across the Midwest, including the company’s office in Grimes, collecting market data, weather information, on the spot transportation costs and a range of other factors that influence expenses and, ultimately, profits.
Mouchka cautioned that Growers Edge is not a brokerage.
It was founded by Mouchka and other partners who come out of the crop insurance industry. They understand risk management, and they saw a need for farmers to maintain their profitability by having immediate access to information that weighs on their finances.
The Growers Edge website requires a login and password, minor inconveniences put in place to protect users’ privacy, Mouchka said. After all, users are required to input personal financial information and to key in their location by longitude and latitude. This is a location-based service.
That information remains private; it is not bundled and sold to other businesses, Mouchka said.
Growers Edge also allows farmers to stay on top of their financial position through a mobile application that allows them to call in sell orders from a smartphone, and plug the information directly into the website from their phone.
Mouchka also established a virtual trading desk of sorts called Grain Hedge, where farmers can conduct trades at $7 per transaction.
The fee is much less than most brokers would charge. Which brings us back to the fact that Growers Edge is a free service that is supported by advertising, just like Google Inc.
Mouchka, who graduated from Drake University with a degree in political science, converted to the entrepreneurial world soon after leaving college.
While at Drake, he decided he needed a creative outlet and determined that business would fit that need.
While working in the crop insurance industry, he spotted a world of “needs” in agriculture. Those discoveries triggered his inner entrepreneur.
“I’m passionate about the start-up world,” he said.
For now, he isn’t ready to discuss new ventures, but they are in the works.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I really enjoy what I’m doing, so if I wasn’t doing this I, would be trying to think of something else to create. It’s hard to imagine going back into a real corporate, established environment.
What is your one piece of advice for other entrepreneurs?
A lot of entrepreneurs are faced with a lot of “nos,” a lot of people saying you’re crazy or that can’t be done. If you believe in something strong enough and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, there’s a lot that can happen. Just staying on what you believe in and staying focused on it is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can pass along.
What’s your guiding principle?
I always try to begin and end my day by creating a list of things to do. It allows me to reflect on my day and what’s coming up the next day. It’s a powerful thing for me because crossing off things on that list keeps pushing me forward.
My Aha Moment:
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