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In Edible-Alpha® podcast #108, Brad talks with Matt McCoy, founder and president of Field to Freezer, a Hartland, Wisconsin-based software as a service (SaaS) company that’s streamlining wild game and domestic meat processing. Matt’s story highlights the unsung importance of technology solutions to the food industry and serves as a guidepost for growing and scaling a viable tech-related food business.
A few years back, Matt, an avid deer hunter, recognized that small-scale meat processing was rife with inefficiencies for both processors and customers. Having founded software company Lanex 23 years ago, he’d helped all kinds of companies solve business challenges through custom solutions, so he wondered: Could he build something to help this industry? He envisioned an app that connected hunters to an extensive database of meat processors, with functionalities to make ordering, drop-off, and pickup smoother for all parties.
In 2018, Matt got to work on discovery. He visited meat processors nationwide to learn their pain points, show them sketches of his ideas, get feedback, and make tweaks. Though these #meatings, he learned that processors also needed solutions to help run their businesses, and that Field to Freezer really should expand to beef, pork and other domestic animal meat processing. The response to his proposals was overwhelmingly positive, so Matt filed a patent on the app.
Then in fall 2019, Field to Freezer got accepted to gener8tor’s gBETA investment accelerator, where Matt met Brad. His advisor challenged him to develop a minimum viable product, or MVP, by deer season. Having the whole system ready would be a stretch, but Matt felt he could at least launch the search tool. So he started with a website that linked to some 1,500 processors and supported it with a press blitz. Word spread fast, and Field to Freezer took off.
So far, Matt has mostly bootstrapped the business, which is more common in tech than in consumer packaged goods. He says investors often have their own ideas about the company’s direction, which can throw entrepreneurs off-target, making it crucial to dial in MVP and stay focused. Also, when bootstrapping, it’s essential to track all the time and money spent building the business to know what it’s worth down the line. Now that Field to Freezer is at a place to consider investors, Matt is looking for a partner who can help propel his vision, not just write a check.
Digging deeper into domestic meat processing, Matt and Brad discuss how demand trumps supply and how Field to Freezer can help. Though this part is still in the design phase, ideally, the software will alleviate farmers’ frustrations while also streamlining processors’ work. Getting more domestic customers on board will also stabilize Field to Freezer’s revenue model.
Finally, they circle back to discovery and how integral it is for all types of food and farm businesses. Going boots-on-the-ground early on helps to spread the word, ensure the product suits the target audience, and position the company for growth.