Inspiration can often come when we least expect it and for Rossi Mitova and her friend Mihail Stanchev, the idea of a service that connects farmers to buyers came to them a few years ago when they discovered a farmer in the Bulgarian mountains who sold raised endangered livestock breeds.
The farm teetered on the verge of bankruptcy and set out to help him, but soon discovered that many farms in the region suffer from similar problems in finding buyers for their goods. In 2012, they therefore created Farmhopping, a service designed to help small farms stay afloat by connecting them to prospective buyers.
When you think of buying organic foods, you naturally think of going to get them at the supermarket or maybe a farmer’s market. However, Farmhopping wants to make the process more intimate by allowing users to not only purchase organic, locally-grown food straight from the farmer, but to also provide the opportunity to interact with the people growing your food.
Visiting their website, you will find that you can search between farms in the United States, Bulgaria, Egypt, India, and the United Kingdom. And if you have a particular type of farm in mind, you can filter them by types of food offered, activities they will allow you to partake in, and other information.
Not surprisingly, the list of filters for the Bulgarian farms is by far the most elaborate, but the UK section is not far behind. Once you have clicked on a particular farm, you can then see the prices for the food they sell (with an option to buy, of course) and, in many cases, pictures and text providing background on the location. Mitova tells me that Farmhopping earns revenue by taking a commission on every transaction completed through the website.
Farmhopping is backed by $63,2K from Bulgarian accelerator Eleven, Seedcamp, and private investors. The company partners with more than 30 farms around the world, but Mitova tells me that they are hoping that the partnership with Seedcamp will help them to enter the British and other European markets.
When thinking of competition for Farmhopping, one service that springs to mind is Kiva, the service that allows people to make microloans to people all around the world. It is not a direct competitor, as you do not buy from the people to whom you loan, but the principle is somewhat similar. In both cases, the idea is to support local businesses by allowing users to give money directly to the people they wish to support.