Mira-Mini | Market Wagon: Scale-up of the Year (Indiana Headquartered)
Gerry Dick: Well, the scale up of the year at this year's Mira Awards for an Indiana- headquartered company, is Market Wagon. And I'm pleased to be joined backstage here at the Mira Awards by Nick Carter, the co- founder and CEO at Market Wagon. And Nick, congratulations on the award.
Nick Carter: Thank you so much.
Gerry Dick: This has been a passion of yours for a long time. And I know as you formed the company and looking at the research in its simplest form, you really wanted to bring family farms around the country, to connect them to consumers. And really, to save family farms.
Nick Carter: Yeah, it's a business of passion for me. I grew up farming, would've been the fourth generation farmer on our farm, and needed to create an opportunity to get family farms and food producers access to the marketplace for the consumers that really want to support them.
Gerry Dick: How do you do it with Market Wagon, using technology?
Nick Carter: Yeah, it's technology through and through. E- commerce technology, obviously on the front end, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes, food is a really complex logistics challenge, and we've developed software that automates everything from the inbound flow of products and cartonization, temperature segregation, so that we can make the local food supply chain scalable through e- commerce with logistics.
Gerry Dick: A number of factors I would assume come into play to make your business a success. Among them, that interest in local food, and that increasing interest in local food. And certainly, I would imagine the pandemic had an impact as well.
Nick Carter: Yeah, for sure. The trend toward buying local has been strong for a long, long time, and we've known that. And the trend toward e- commerce has been growing year, after year, after year in e- commerce grocery, but near the end of 2019, only about 5% of Americans had adopted e- commerce grocery. But by mid 2020, that was pretty much all of us. We knew that that trend was heading there, and the pandemic really just made what was an eventuality, became an immediate reality. And we were able to scale up rapidly in order to meet the growing demand.
Gerry Dick: Talk about the potential for growth as you look going forward. Where do you see that in Indiana and beyond?
Nick Carter: Well, our model has been able to prove that we can thrive in what some people consider flyover cities. There's about 120 cities in the US where we could viably operate a Market Wagon hub, and it's just the sky's the limit.
Gerry Dick: When you talk about 120 cities, what's the sweet spot? The city that has the attributes that you look for?
Nick Carter: Really, it's amazing. If we have about a million people within an hour's drive, we can build a thriving hub. And so that opens up markets to us that a lot of other coastal startups overlook: Bloomington, Illinois, Lexington, Kentucky. We're doing really well in markets like that, because we're close to the food supply, there's a lot of farmers, there's a lot of food producers in the Midwest. And the consumer demand is still there and we're able to supply it.
Gerry Dick: How does growing your company, how is it impacted by being in Indiana? When you look at the ag presence here, the emerging tech ecosystem, does it make for a nice recipe for the company?
Nick Carter: It really does. It's been a great soup. Because we've got TechPoint, has been a fantastic advocate. We have a tech community here, we've been able to grow tech talent right here in Indiana. But we are also early on aided a lot by Indiana Farm Bureau, and their ability to help us through regulatory challenges, and with the farming community, to grow in this agricultural state as well as a tech state.
Gerry Dick: The scale up of the year for an Indiana headquartered company, Market Wagon, Nick Carter. Congratulations on the growth, and good luck going forward.
Nick Carter: Thanks, Gary. All right.
Nick Carter, an Indianapolis farmer and tech entrepreneur, launched the online farmers’ market in 2016 to save family farms across the country. It is a place to shop for local fresh products and a platform to discover local farms and connect with farmers, chefs and artisans to learn about the food they produce. More than 2,500 local farmers and artisans use Market Wagon to deliver products to the doorsteps of 45,000+ local customers in more than 33 markets across 20 states. Built to scale quickly, Market Wagon surged from just six markets to 33 during the first 18-months of the pandemic. In 2021, Market Wagon grew from 36 to 76 workers to meet demand. Over the next three years, Market Wagon anticipates doubling its employment base and expanding to up to 20 more new markets, before embarking on a massive revenue increase and nationwide expansion through 2025.