AMES, Iowa, May 17, 2021 – Ag Startup Engine, in the Iowa State University (ISU) Research Park, has announced an initial investment in Wayland, Iowa-based ChopLocal. Founded in 2020, ChopLocal is an online marketplace that makes it easy for farmers and butchers to connect with modern meat-eaters by simplifying the process from farm-to-fork, supporting small businesses, and providing the best-tasting meat around.
“We really value the support of the Ag Startup Engine and we're really thankful that something like this exists in Iowa to support entrepreneurs in agriculture,” commented Jared Achen, Founder and CEO of ChopLocal. “My only regret is that I didn't reach out to Ag Startup Engine sooner.”
Ag Startup Engine is excited for ChopLocal to join its portfolio of innovative startups. “As ecommerce grows, customers continually look to marketplaces to provide a variety of options on one platform. ChopLocal is the first marketplace of its type, offering benefits for customers and a competitive advantage for farmers," said Joel Harris, executive director of Ag Startup Engine. “We’re excited to work with Jared and Katie who have deep industry knowledge and want to shine a light on the best of our industry.”
"Consumer buying patterns are changing rapidly. ChopLocal enables new supply chains that connect consumers and producers,” adds Kevin Kimle, co-director of Ag Startup Engine.
ChopLocal provides three distinct advantages for its customers: transparency in where their food comes from, online ordering with delivery and pick-up options, and the highest quality meat. Both Achen and Katie Olthoff, co-founder and director of marketing, are Iowa farmers who, after the supply-chain disruptions of 2020, sought to simplify connecting producers and consumers. The marketplace allows customers to order from multiple farms and businesses at once. From shipping logistics to best-practices for increasing sales, ChopLocal is able to provide services for small businesses that they can’t find elsewhere.
Olthoff said, “We plan to steward this investment to benefit all of the farmers and butchers who partner with ChopLocal, and the customers who order from them.” She adds, “The support and guidance from the Ag Startup Engine community has been outstanding and has really helped guide ChopLocal towards success.”
Ag Startup Engine was launched four years ago to help address two fundamental gaps that prevent agricultural startups and entrepreneurs from being more successful: early seed-stage investment and organized mentorship from successful entrepreneurs. The program recently announced closing of their second fund with the goal to accept and invest in 45 agriculture and animal health startups in the next five years.