How This Agritech Business Shifted from Startup to Small Business


How This Agritech Business Shifted from Startup to Small Business

When Matthew Sanford and Glen Watson founded their agritech company Agulus, their focus was on the startup phase. The company offered something that, at the time, was innovative within the industry – a streamlined digital marketplace that facilitated the purchase of various agriculture supplies and services.

When launching a new company, especially one that intends to disrupt an industry, securing investors and industry partners is often the main objective. However, right as Agulus launched, some other major industry players prepared to launch similar offerings. This ultimately made it harder for the founders to secure investors and complete other startup goals.

But the pair made an interesting realization as they were contemplating a pivot — their offering was already serving a small but loyal customer base. And they had enough revenue to run their operations. In other words, they had moved past the startup ideation phase. They were simply running a small business now.

Sanford told the Upstate Business Journal, “We really had to go through this process of self-realization and say to ourselves, ‘You know what? Business is business. We’ve completely gotten off the point here. We’re no longer building a high-quality product, because we’ve been so busy building pitch decks and running in circles trying to communicate something [to potential investors] that we don’t even need to communicate. So let’s just get back to basics, forget all this startup stuff, and let’s build our product around the users. Let’s just run a small business.’”

The startup phase is an attractive one for many new entrepreneurs. It’s where you can spin grand fantasies, both to yourselves and to potential investors, of major industry disruptions and billion dollar earnings. However, this focus on fundraising and convincing others of your company’s imminent success is not necessary for every business. This is ultimately what Agulus realized.

So instead of pivoting to a new type of service that didn’t include such stiff competition, the founders simply changed their mindset. They focused on building and improving their product to serve their customers and improve their company using revenue instead of investor capital. It may not sound as exciting as raising billions from venture firms, but it can be a more sustainable and realistic way for many companies to grow.

Image: Envato



Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.