We are pleased to be joined on The Pivot podcast today by Mr. Rob Forsythe, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Milk Moovement, and Mr. Jon King, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Milk Moovement, Welcome, gentlemen.
I'm curious to know how Milk Moovement, got started. Because I believe it was in St. John's, Newfoundland, was it not?
It was indeed. So I spent a number of years working in the dairy space. And what they say in dairy is, once you get in, you never get out, and that was definitely true for me. So I worked in a variety of different companies along the supply chain, from the transporter to the processor, retailer, and ultimately then the dairy co-operative. Pretty much everywhere except for the farm, really.
And as I worked at each of these companies, I found it incredibly challenging and frustrating that at each stop, we kept our own data in our own system and shared it only with the supply chain partners, either A, when something went wrong along the supply chain, or B, when it came time for pay. And what that meant was, we were spending 5, 10, 15 days trying to even agree on what a problem was when things happened, before even starting to work on a solution. And that was really frustrating for me.
So while I was at the dairy cooperative, I was working as a manager of transportation logistics and producer pay. And I thought that I could bring something to the table that would provide even a simple solution to share data amongst the different players on the supply chain, and came up with, at the time, a Google Drive-based system that was really simple that I would just gather all my information in, dump it onto one spreadsheet, and that would then section out into a variety of different Google Drive systems.
I then drove around the province of Newfoundland and gave logins to all of my producers and my transporters and my processors, so they could access their information at the same time that I had it. And that worked really well for a number of months. And about eight months after that, the job at The Dairy Farmers became less of a challenge for me.
And I was fortunate enough to get the first commercial drone license in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, so I actually went out and started a drone company. And that was really fun. I had a great time doing it, shot in some big documentaries, did weddings, real estate, a whole big pile of really interesting work flying drones around the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
And then, a year into that, my old boss from The Dairy Farmers came back and said, hey, now that you've got some experience out in the tech world and you know the dairy space well, do you have any interest in building up a web-based platform that could actually provide a lot of what the Google Drive system that you built does, but more benefits across the sector? I had to look at what was happening in dairy across Canada, and then ultimately, the world as well, and saw there was a real need for a cloud-based system that could link partners together along their supply chain. And that's what Milk Moovement is for.
That's fascinating, Jon. I'm just curious about what you described about what some of these problems were. Like, what were some of the common themes that arose that, kind of, were bugging you? And what was the feedback from the farmers that you helped integrate into your Google Drive to make things more efficient?
Yeah, so anything that can go wrong will go wrong in a dairy supply chain, and it's true in every sense of the word. And that could be anything in terms of-- at the time, drivers were writing out carbon copy slips of paper, up to four carbon copies. And a 9 can be read as a 4 pretty quickly when you're talking about four slips of carbon copy paper.
You've got dip levels and dip charts at a farm that are fairly complicated for actually monitoring how much milk is being picked up. You've got samples that are going to labs, and that can be in the same province, in a different province, getting shipped across, having different handlers, sometimes even going in a cab to get to its final destination. So pretty much just about anything that can happen on the supply chain will happen in the run of a week, month, and year when you're talking about dairy.
So it's a lot of those different things that I was looking for. The Google Drive system itself on its core basis was simple. And what that was, was getting the data to the producers or the processors or the haulers in an expedited fashion. And by doing that, we were able to find out where there were potential errors, whether that was in the amount of milk picked up, quality that milk picked up, or some other factors.
Much later, as we started to really dive in to Milk Moovement as a platform, we started to build upon additional triggers, additional monitoring tools, and really finding efficiencies in the supply chain or flagging errors in real time. And today, we've got more than 45 triggers that can happen anywhere on that supply chain, and paying the appropriate partner along the supply chain.
Jon, I was wondering if I could jump in just for a second. And I grew up in a small fishing community. I'm a little out of my wheelhouse here. So you mentioned a couple of things like a co-operative, and you had mentioned your old boss had approached you and said, hey, can you expand on this Google Drive idea? Can you just give us a sense of how this supply chain actually works as it relates to the firms themselves, a cooperative? Or one of my questions was, who was this old boss of yours, and exactly who did he represent?
So in Canada, we have a supply-managed dairy sector. And what that means is, each of our provinces have their own dairy board. And the dairy farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador has all the farms in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
And essentially, how it works is, they will have their producers. They will contract out drivers and haulers, who will pick up the milk from those producers, and they will sell that milk to the processing facilities. Think [? Agropurs, ?] [? Saputpos, ?] those type of businesses. And then, the dairy cooperative really acts as the business arm of all of the farms that are within that province itself.
So The Dairy Farmers in Newfoundland and Labrador was the board where I was working at the time when really coming up and figuring out the milk industry itself. And there, my boss was John Moores, who's the general manager of The Dairy Farmers Newfoundland and Labrador. We're still great friends today. He's still the general manager there and handles a variety of the tasks, really, for the entire province of Newfoundland and Labrador's dairy industry. So it was really working together there that we found a lot of the synergies for the system.
OK, great. So before we move on to how something as initially simple as a Google Drive concept moved into what Milk Moovement is today, Rob, why don't you give us some sense of your background and how you got involved in this?
Yeah. Thanks. So I got involved because-- well, first, Jon and I, we met doing our commerce degrees at Memorial University in St. John's. So I'm from New Brunswick originally, moved to St. John's to go to MUN. Jon and I happened to be in the same commerce class. And while he was actually working at the dairy cooperative after school, I was working with Exxon Mobil and Worley Parsons on the Hebron Project, doing procurement-- so supply chain, but in a much different way, but oddly enough, seeing a lot of the same challenges in that industry that we see in dairy.
But then, I actually moved to Halifax in 2018 to start doing my MBA at the Sobey School of Business here. And it was about six to eight months after Jon had started moving very quietly behind the scenes that he realized this was a bigger thing than just Newfoundland. And I know he mentioned that he did look to Canada and the world, but I would say that he looked probably pretty limitedly and said, you know, there's something here, but we really didn't know what it was at the time.
And so he asked me to get involved in about October. And my first task was to pitch the Volta Competition here in Halifax. They have their semiannual pitch competition, $25,000 cash prize.
And that was the first money in, and we won that along with six or five other companies that night in November 2018. Actually, Jon joked. He said-- I think he said, you can have 3% or $3,000 if we win. And then, I said I don't want either. I want to be in. This is going somewhere. And then, we've never looked back since November.
That's amazing. Can you just describe what that initial pitch was like for you, Rob? I assume you guys delivered it together. Because I'm sure there might be some [INAUDIBLE] students listening to this who might even get nervous just presenting in front of their class, let alone in front of a board of people that actually make a material difference and launch a viable business. Do you remember what that was like initially?
I do. That pitch is interesting. I believe it's still the same. You have three minutes, which is quite a challenge-- to explain an entire business, your path to market, your attraction, everything in 3 minutes. But it's a really good test for an entrepreneur, even a very young early entrepreneur, to just get really concise and be able to win people over quickly.
And I think it teaches you that the story is as important as the business. You want to connect to people emotionally in what you're doing and get people excited. And I remember that night after-- at that time, travel was a thing. It was 2018.
And there were investors from Calgary and Montreal and Toronto, and people saying, listen, the dairy industry has needed this for years. It's so exciting to see two young people focused on this. And so I think our story resonated that night that we were-- first off, this was a problem originated in dairy by someone who worked in dairy.
But we were young people with our careers ahead of us, and we were choosing to tackle this problem, and we were going to put everything into it. So I think it got people really excited. And I think the momentum that you build-- the key is keeping that, and I honestly don't think we've lost it since that night.
That's amazing. What do you guys credit your initial success to, and to what extent to you give-- I mean, you talked a little bit about your experience of studying at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland, where you guys met. And then, Rob, you went on to study at the Sobey School at Saint Mary's University here in Halifax. To what extent did your Atlantic Canadian-born education and backgrounds, kind of, lend themselves to your success, your crossover success, in the business world here in Atlantic Canada and beyond?
I'll go first. I think you learn a lot about your own place where you were raised once you leave. And so most if not all of our investors, minus a couple, are in all parts of the US-- so California, Minnesota, Tennessee, New York. And when we're meeting with them or when you're traveling, you actually, kind of, realize how where you grew up is different.
And I think what sticks out here the most about Atlantic Canadians is our collaboration and our openness to work together, and just our communication type and really just openness to all be in it together and to all rise together, I think. And you don't always see that elsewhere. And so I don't know whether that was always taught explicitly in class or whatever, but it really was, how does the business community connect with the business faculty?
And we both had work terms in the business community in St. John's. And just this whole kind of working together to raise the new generation of business leaders, I think, was something that stuck out to us, and I think it still is to this day. And actually, that's what it's all about-- is taking an industry where people traditionally work in silos, and maybe more competitive and less trusting of each other, and bringing this radical, really, collaborative nature to it, and saying, let's stop competing, let's start working together. Because we believe that's how this industry is going to grow rather than shrink.
And what have you guys learned, in terms of any trends that you've observed? I mean, as people started-- as you guys started to scale up and adoption of Milk Moovement's software, if that's a fair term, started proliferating in the industry, what did you learn on that journey, given where it started, as Jon just described, and where you are today? And how did you, kind of, pivot, so to speak?
Yeah. So I think we were first really fortunate that we were able to spend-- so the initial part of our business, we really spent the first eight months in stealth mode, building with The Dairy Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador. We had our first client in them before we wrote our first [INAUDIBLE], so we were able to really tightly understand our problem and what the solution would look like in market with real users. And we spent a lot of time making sure we had that right.
And I think that really was one of our core successes early on. Since then, we've gotten to the point where we're hearing the problems from every corner of the dairy industry across Canada, across the United States, and now, into Australia as well. We've got a laundry list of different things that are going on opportunities. And really, it's a lot of questions in terms of, what problem do we solve next, rather than a rework or a pivot, which is really fantastic.
We initially set out with two goals. First goal-- digitize the dairy supply chain, and the second goal was to provide optimization on that dairy supply chain. We've hit the first one, and we're well into the second as we're looking for opportunities to optimize, get the right milk to the right place at the right time.
And we're working way beyond that right now, which is thrilling. It's nerve-racking a lot of times, for sure. But ultimately, we're, I think, every single day getting closer to really providing revolutionary change in the space. And that's something that's super exciting for me.
So we keep on briefly touching on the problems or perhaps the pain points of this industry. I'm wondering if you can just take a few minutes and specifically mention the initial pain point and how Milk Moovement solved that, keeping in mind that we're still trying to go from, how did it switch from something as simple as a Google Drive document into what it is today. So I'm hoping we could spend some time talking about the specifics of the product, and exactly where it started, and exactly where this could go perhaps.
Yeah. So let's kick off with the product. That's fantastic and a great point that we haven't covered yet. So we have two different software products that we've put in the market today. The first one is a driver handheld system. So that's for dairy truck drivers, and that system runs on Android or iOS.
And what it does is put an app directly in the driver's hands that makes it quick and efficient for them to monitor all of their pickup and dropoff data at the farm and at the processing facility, and pretty much everywhere in-between. The goal is for it to be simple. The goal is to get all their data into the system quickly, efficiently, and of course, correctly.
The second product that we offer is a web-based platform, and that platform has different accounts for cooperatives, processors, producers, hauling managers, and labs. And it's really a shared real-time data set that allows those different users who are in different companies but all in the same supply chain to interact with their data together and provide valuable insights about data and predictions in terms of what will happen next in the supply chain. So ultimately, using that portal and our deep notification system along with their driver handhelds, our goal is to let everyone on that dairy supply chain work together to solve problems.
And on average, we are solving any problem along the supply chain in four minutes or less. And as we're doing that, we're able to ensure that all the data is right in the right place and actionable, which allow us to have our clients complete their entire payment processes in 40 minutes or less, which, compared to the industry, averages roughly 30 days. So it's a significant improvement there.
And then, even in the background, we're monitoring things like route distances, driver time, pickup times, and a whole big pile of other data points that can be used by the transporters or the co-op or the processor to allow them to predict what their supply chain will do next week, next month, or next year. And then, plan for those different instances to allow the right milk to get to the right plant at the right time.
So I guess there would be different variations of the product itself, depending who the end-user would be. Did I understand that correctly in that there are perhaps multiple customers here?
Yeah. So there's one customer and multiple end users. So there are different view ports upon the same data set in a single supply chain. So an example would be that the dairy producer has their own dashboard that's relevant just to their own farm, that allows them to compare their farms' data year over year, across quality, quantity, and a variety of other metrics, whereas the cooperative portal would show the industry-wide data that's relevant, that they need to know in terms of what's happening there.
And then, the transporters will see just the milk that single transporter is moving, and the processor is seeing just the milk that's arriving at their facilities that they'll be turning into the final products that we enjoy. So it's all one big data set, but you're correct in saying that we section it out to make it quick, actionable, and usable for whoever that end user is. I think it's important to actually highlight what Jon said about that one data set, and that's the real piece clients.
Honestly can't believe at the beginning-- they think this is too good to be true, but today, in most places, all of those people or stakeholders across the supply chain that Jon mentioned-- they're taking that original set of data, which is really the carbon copy slip, and then they're all entering that data-- so the lab results, and then the quantity data from the transporter-- into their own software or their own whatever suite of tools. And from that point on, really, there's no consistency or no guarantee of consistency across the supply chain. So once it gets into an organization and that data starts to run to be modeled there, there's no guarantee it's the same data that the cooperative is using, compared to the transporter or to the processor.
Milk Moovement is actually the one true source of data at the center of it, so everyone's working out of that daily, hourly, by the minute, and it's the same source of data. So that's the key piece-- is that what you don't see is behind the scenes-- people on phones, emails, and clouds, and all these different things, trying to just agree on what the data says, that waste honestly hours, week sometimes. So for instance, let's stop arguing over what the data says. Let's just have one true set of data, source of data, and then let's get down to work.
Really, really interesting. So my next question was going to be, how is this being received? But then, you made a comment that it was too good to be true. And one of the reasons I wanted to ask about how it was being received-- clearly, we can do some quick reading about Milk Moovement and see that you guys are gaining some traction, without question.
But it occurred to me that this industry is likely-- I don't know if it's fair for me to say that it would be disproportionately blue-collar in nature, and I'm not sure how quick these dairy farmers and cooperatives and so on and so forth would be to adopt things like software as a service model, with cloud-based data. But it doesn't seem to be the case. How has this been received? I'm wondering if you can expand on that.
So the first bit, after we launched our MVP, eight months out of stealth mode-- we got really excellent reception from each portion of the supply chain, from the drivers, to the producers, transporters, and processors, and all along chain, which is really exciting. Of course, we also got a lot of feedback on things we can do better, and we take that feedback seriously. But you're definitely right that the dairy sector itself is admittedly further behind than many other sectors when it comes to technology and systems, and especially on the software side.
Hardware, for a long time in agriculture, has been well ahead of where software is, and we think there's a lot of room for a surge in software. So the reception was great. At first, we did have to get a lot better very quickly at training our users, understanding our users, and then understanding when we needed to train our users again, so that they could leverage all the tools that we have.
Earlier in the podcast, I did mention that simplicity was the word on the top of our mind when we started it. On the driver side, it remains the word on the top of our mind now, no matter where we go. We are incredibly data-driven, and what's really nice about the way Milk Moovement deploys across entire cooperatives or groups of farmers with hundreds or thousands of farms coming on at once-- that gives us lots of data.
So we're able to see in every instance how our users are interacting with the system, make adjustments beyond that, and try and ensure that no matter what, they're having the best possible experience. We always say when we're starting with a new client, when new people join our team, really at any point, that we are building something that is ultimately going to help the dairy sector get to its next frontier. We're not just building stuff that we generally think is cool.
Now, Rob, you are the chief executive officer, and John you're the chief operating officer. When you guys were initially getting this thing off the ground, did you guys flip a coin in terms of who got to use what title? Or how did that all play out?
Pretty much. I mean, we classified it as internal versus external. And so you know, I think it's been a funny journey for Jon and I. We're both really good friends, and we've been friends much longer than we were in business together. So you, kind of, reach these points, like you're mentioning, with these funny things that you don't really necessarily even realize the repercussions of at the time, but you say, what do you want to do, and what do you want to do.
But I think we had enough sense to say, OK, I think, Jon, you have this ability to take the industry and your vision for the industry, but actually move people to get it done. And I think we realized I had maybe a different ability to tell that story externally and to get people excited about it. And that was probably as simple as it was. I think it was, I was going to represent the company outside of the organization as best I could, and Jon would move things along inside.
Yeah, that's fair. And you know, because Jeff and I, being in this industry, we're fortunate to work with people from all walks of life. And I have had interactions with young entrepreneurs who aspire to maybe be the next movement in their own industry. And so I guess my question, having said all that, is, what would your advice be for young entrepreneurs who maybe have someone in their network like you, Rob, when you met Jon, and you very much sensed early on that there's this momentum that's been created and that you're feeling positive about, and you want to know more, because you believe in the vision?
But it takes more than that, right? You touched on the partnership, the trust, all those kinds of things. What other advice would you have in terms of getting a successful partnership off the ground?
Partnership, for sure-- I mean, on that side, you generally have to have a mutual respect for the person. It is in a way a marriage. I talk to Jon probably many more hours a day than I do my wife sometimes. So you definitely have to know who you're getting into business with.
I think we're fortunate that that's worked out quite well. But I think, to young entrepreneurs-- and Jon and I like to protest that we're a couple of years into this. I'm sure five years from now, I'll look back at my advice and think it was completely ridiculous.
But if I had to look back in the last two years, something that sticks out to me, I think, is once you get started, which is often the hardest part, is putting your head down and getting to work, and not really getting too distracted by what's going on around you. And this goes back a bit to what we were just talking about in the industry, and the industry being traditional, and this being a bit radical for it. I actually believe if Jon and I were absolute experts in dairy and we knew everything about it, I don't think we would have done this business.
Because we would have known too much, and we would have thought, you know, there's a slow reaction to change, just a bit risk-averse, things like that. And I think we probably would have said, let's put our time somewhere else. Honestly, I think we knew enough about the industry that we knew some things that needed to be fixed, but we didn't know enough to be scared.
And if I look back the last two years, I think that's actually our benefit-- we put our heads down, and we just got to work. And then, next thing you know, you've built this business that the largest dairy co-operatives in the world want to work with. So that's my advice I give, I think-- is to get started, and then put the blinders on, and get to work.
Well, Milk Moovement is now used-- I think the number is over 550 farms across North America. Is that right?
Yeah, and actually, Australia as well.
That's awesome. What are you guys most proud of, as these kinds of accolades start pouring into your company? And as a follow-up to that question, could you describe the experience of having gained notoriety through some of these tech accelerators that you've been a part of? And for those listening that might not know what that is, could you briefly describe your initial interactions with an accelerator and what that's done for your business?
Oh, yeah, I'll explain. So an accelerator is often-- it's usually over anywhere from two to four months. They're often venture-backed, which is the ones we chose to do. So they do come with some investment.
And it's actually typically owned by a VC firm, who then-- in a way, it's their deal flow, and it's their ability to do the due diligence. So they're often industry-specific, they'll choose eight to 10 companies, and they'll work with you over four months very intensively to get your business to the next stage and to achieve goals. Through that, they usually typically give you funding and investment as well, which is really great. And each one's a bit different.
We've done three in the US-- one East Coast, West Coast, and then in the Midwest. All, we chose for different reasons, but it's often comes down to really the connections and the relationships that specific accelerator and that those investors have. So the Midwest, for example, we did Techstars Farm to Fork.
People don't often realize, but in Minneapolis, there are six Fortune 500 companies, it's an epicenter for food, and there are also 10,000 dairy farms in Wisconsin half-hour away from the city or within reason. So that center for us was really, really important. As Atlantic Canadians, we felt like we had a large or very uphill battle to get in the name and the word of Milk Moovement out there.
And for us, doing an accelerator like that did exactly that. We felt like it would accelerate the message and accelerate the brand, and it absolutely did. We tripled down on it, I guess, by doing three. And so honestly, I think that was really smart of us to do in hindsight.
We spent 2020 doing all of those accelerators, and now, our pipeline is blowing up, our sales potential is blowing up, and our onboardings. Because whether you're in California or Arizona or upstate New York, you've likely heard about us, or you don't have to go too far to hear about us now. And so to investor-- sorry, to entrepreneurs to looking at these accelerators, you have to ask yourself, yeah, I'm to give up some equity for this investment.
Is this the right thing? But you often have to ask yourself, how long will it take me to accomplish the goal I want to accomplish, and how much will this shrink that time? And you do the math, or I mean, it's a bit of math and a bit of gut. But thankfully, for us, it worked out.
Earlier, you talked about your pitch competition, and you expanded a bit on the accelerator part of things. And you also mentioned you did your MBA at Saint Mary's. Well, if you go through any of the academic learning on these venture capital or whatever it may be, you're going to hear that, oh, well, eventually, you need to raise some equity, and you need to perhaps find some angel investors.
I don't know about you, but when I went through those courses initially in my undergrad, I remember thinking, why are all these people just hanging around and waiting to give right people million-dollar checks for start-up businesses? And it almost seemed, like, ridiculous to me. But then, as you start partaking in industry, you realize that this is a very normal thing, in particular for well-managed businesses like this.
And I've got the news release that you guys recently did an equity raise. I'm just wondering if you can comment on how difficult something like that is-- perhaps the stress associated with perhaps needing an equity raise to continue to fund something like a cash burn, and how easy or difficult or how possible it is to make these things become a reality.
I think it's probably helpful for both Jon and I to answer this, but I'm going to go first. So raising and fundraising and meeting with investors is very similar, almost identical, to selling, in a way. And so you really now-- I mean, if you're thinking that you would like to raise-- first of all, you have to decide whether you're VC or not, whether you're going to go the VC route or not.
We could talk for an hour about that alone. We decided that we were, and we decided that was the path we're going to take. So let's just, kind of, clarify that. Really, if you want money in the bank in eight months from now, you honestly probably should have started conversations two or three months ago. So it is very much like a sales pipeline and like sales cycles, and it's about the relationships that you build, and it's all people-to-people and getting to know people.
Now, the better your business is doing traction-wise, if you went from 0 to a million in annual recurring revenue this year, all of a sudden, people will talk. So yes, the better you're doing, you probably have to do a little bit less of the legwork. For us, we knew we had to go out and pound pavement. We were hearing stats like, you have to talk to 100 investors to get one yes, things like that.
And so Jon and I just got to work, and we made a list of deep potential 200 investors around the world that we thought would be interested in us and that we'd be interested in them. Then, we started going to our networks and saying, who do you know here, who do you know here. The accelerators were really, really big for that and introducing us.
And really, Jeff, six months ago, if you asked that question, I would say I also thought it was crazy to be in a situation where people are writing you million-dollar checks. We realized it's not that crazy. And really, in the end of January when we announced our round, we announced it on a Monday.
We actually had a term sheet the Friday before from an investor we were talking to, and we wanted to raise $2.5 million by Wednesday, not even 72 hours later. We were up to, I think, $4.5 million in offers, and we had to turn away 1.5, and we capped the round at 3. We've since closed it at 3.2 US, because a couple more investors came in that we really, really wanted involved.
But what it was-- the mentors we had surrounded our company with-- they also had access to capital. So we were calling them and saying, we got a really good term sheet out of Tennessee. Can you look at this with us and provide advice?
And they would say, yeah. They'd look at it, and then they'd say, well, my fund would like to write a $500,000 check. And then, the next call-- well, will you take 600? And then, the next call-- will you take 250?
And honestly, it sounds like I'm exaggerating. It's not. Jon and I were in the middle of these calls, texting each other like, what the hell is happening here? And it was a bit of a lightning-in-a-bottle moment. But I think it was the work we put in 12, 14, 16 months before that, getting to know people, so that when you had an opportunity for people to get involved, the relationships were there.
I think, Rob, that really comments on the-- really touches on, I should say, the quality of the idea of should that be taking place. I would hope it does, anyway. Jon, do you want to elaborate there?
I think that was a really good summary of where we were. We certainly got a lot of no's along the journey as well. It wasn't all sunshine and roses. But once things started to roll, they really, really started to roll, which was fantastic.
And we went high and low. We looked all over for what the right fit was, both from an investment firm side, from the partners themselves, from the size of the fund, and everything in between. And we learned a lot on the journey.
But Rob nailed it when he said it's much like selling to a customer. And it's even as much as-- very similar in a lot of cases to selling in the B2C world, where you want to get that interest piqued, you want that FOMO if they're missing out to be hitting, and you want to have the right offer. It also helped for us that the market for funding [INAUDIBLE] and seeds got very hot around the similar time-- so totally external factors at the stars just aligned.
But we were out there, we were ready, and we were planned to take advantage of the moment once it hit. And that was certainly attributed, like Rob mentioned, to the accelerators, and incubators, and everyone that helped us out along the way.
Could you guys comment on-- because you mentioned relationships several times in your responses, and I'm interested in asking a question about your relationship with Richard Cargill. It's been well-reported in the news that-- for those that don't know, the Cargill Group is the largest privately held corporation in the US. I think in 2018, revenues were over $100 billion. How did that relationship unfold?
So we met Richard through the Techstars Farm to Fork program. He was a mentor there. And really to kick off that program, they start with a meeting between the company and 100 potential mentors. And it's back-to-back for the first three weeks of the program, and it's really interesting, very fast 20-minute conversations.
One of those people was Richard Cargill, and Richard and us really found a good understanding of the broader impacts of providing digitization and software tools in the ag tech space, and what those impacts would mean, not only domestically, but internationally as well. And to be honest, we actually hardly even got in to the minutia of the immediate challenges of the product itself, and really just were able to get a high-level understanding with one another of where we thought the dairy space and more broadly the agriculture space as a whole was heading in the next 3, 5, and 10 years.
And that was in a really interesting point for us, and a lot of what happened throughout the entire Techstars program, for us as founders and as a company, was us figuring out how far we really could go, and what kind of changes we could seriously make in this industry. And Richard was a huge component of helping us through those changes. So after Mentor Madness, he actually became what they called a lead mentor for us. And we were meeting once a week to run through questions, crazy ideas, and get insights from him about really ag tech options, processes, and industry potential all around the world.
On this topic of mentors, who are some of your other mentors in terms of business and in life? Rob, you want to start there?
Yeah, I actually made a quick list [INAUDIBLE], but I realized it leans towards-- I actually think it's all investors. And I don't know investors in Milk Moovement, and I don't know whether-- at first, I thought that's funny-- and then, I realized they were all actually mentors before they became investors. So I don't know if that speaks-- I don't know what story that tells, but I think there's something there.
So Richard, absolutely. Richard's really, really good at getting us to see 10,000 feet, and getting us to see the billion-dollar vision for Milk Moovement. And I think in Atlantic Canada and just in general, you often see the $20 million vision. But he gets us to see much, much bigger than that.
Brett Brohl out of Minnesota-- he runs the Techstars program. He's also managing director for Bread and Butter, who is an investor in this program-- or in Milk Moovement as well. He's fantastic. And I guess the other one I'd say is Shawn Broderick.
And if you're in food and agriculture, you might know him as [INAUDIBLE], but that's, kind of, what he goes by. But he's based in Manhattan. Actually, he goes between Boston and Manhattan. He's at SOSV, and he ran the Food-X Program that we did in Manhattan, but he's been-- I mean, we meet with him weekly.
I like his approach, because especially going through this round, you can get really bogged down in just the legal and the process and the stress of it all. And he's just super simple. He's an East Coaster, and he just, kind of, I guess-- I don't know-- forces us to forget about all the BS, and just the task at hand, and have fun doing it.
And so when I think of those three people, and then the other mentors we have really-- everyone, kind of, brings a different mix. Some people get you to care when you need to care. Some people get you to relax when you need to relax, and it's all about a good mix.
When you were speaking there, things like investors keep coming up. And I know we've had you guys for a while already, so we'll see if we can wrap this up in the next few questions here at some point. But I am curious to get your insight on something, and I'm not sure if there would be a lot to be had, but I'm going to try anyway.
I'm coming at this from an investment advisor standpoint, no question. But you guys have a company that you started as a software as a service business, which has been all the craze as of late. So 10 years ago, I don't think we would have heard nearly as much talk of software as a service, and we've even seen companies over time, kind of, shift their existing business models to software as a service.
And then, we see things like investment markets actually assign higher valuations for each dollar of earnings to companies who have done this. So I'm not sure if this is something that's going to continue indefinitely or if it's a fad for the time being. But I'm looking for your thoughts on the business model, and perhaps if you thought, as it related specifically to Milk Moovement-- would there be something that would work better than a traditional software-as-a-service model? Or is this continuously being pushed by your investors per se?
So for us, what's really great about our model-- and I don't think we've actually mentioned it specifically-- but we do run on a usage basis. So the amount of milk that's managed in our system by our clients is the number that they're built on. So if they manage more milk and are making more money, we charge them more.
If they're marketing less well, we charge them less. And we find that's a really good mix for a number of reasons. One, the number of users and firms is changing quite rapidly in the space. And two, we believe that providing actionable intelligence across the dairy supply chain in real time through as many partners as possible is the way forward.
So we always push for the unlimited users for our clients. So we think that the real basis that needs to line up when you're considering a SaaS model is that understanding that the metric that you are charging for your SaaS service is directly linked to the success that your clients are having. And if you're able to do that, then I think you've really found the sweet spot that can work, and SaaS is a good vehicle for your company.
But when those two things don't necessarily align, and that certainly is not unusual in this space-- and like you correctly mentioned, many are trying to transition to that kind of model-- it can be disjointed. And that does not work as well and can definitely provide multiple issues in the immediate and in the longer term. For us, though, I think I really do believe it's a good fit. We started with that one pricing model. We believe that pricing model has done us really quite well all the way through.
And I think you were also dead-on to say it's the hot thing right now. There's certainly going to be the next big thing that comes up around the corner, and depending on what that is, obviously, we will evaluate it when the time comes. But predominantly and far and away, our pricing and cost structure is driven by what works for us as a business, what works for our customers, and what our customers can easily, quickly understand as success, not based on what is going to give us the higher valuation today, tomorrow, or next year.
Got it. That makes sense. Listen, guys, we've had you already over 45 minutes. So I'm just going to finish with, I think, what's going to be the most important question today. How much time do you guys spend trying to decide if there should be two O's in the word, movement? I feel like I couldn't help myself either.
Yeah. I'm going to say that this is the only thing we ever fought-- that we've really ever argued about. [LAUGHTER] I had a bit of a marketing background, and I thought this was the corniest thing ever. And I said, I'll come on, but I'm not doing it, and I will now say that I've eaten my words, and I think it was one of the smarter things we've ever done. But I think Jon's story of why he chose that is pretty funny.
Yeah, the answer is not long. I came up with the name, the logo, and the branding in the course of probably an hour and 1/2. And it was the first thing that popped in my head.
I thought, wow, that's hilarious, and if we can go out there and make a billion-dollar company with the name Milk Moovement, we have definitely made a product that is hitting a nerve, is amazing, and is serving a real customer requirement. Because that name is just so ridiculous. We also then Googled fast [INAUDIBLE] for our initial logo, and that's how we came up with the logo when we started.
We've come a long way since then. We've got designers who are definitely way better than me on board. But that was the genesis of the name and the logo. And the one thing that stuck around, of course, as well as the second O, is the ethos that we also really want to have a bit of fun with it.
And we build that into everything we do. We've got dancing cows. We've got a lot of milk puns going around. Typically, it's old-school ERP systems. It's a lot of data that we compete with.
So having fun throughout the process and building an experience that's something that can put a smile on our users' faces as well as our own faces throughout the process has been really big for us. So yeah, five minutes-- Milk Moovement it was. Now, do we pronounce the second O as we say Moovement? That's still a debate between me and Rob.
I say the second O is silent.
All right, guys. I love it. Listen, I think we'll end it there. I appreciate you guys so much coming on the podcast and having a discussion with us. There was a lot to be learned here, and this was really interesting. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much.
Thanks for having us.
Thank you, Rob. Thank you, Jon.
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