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Quick Organics: Software as a Solution to Scaling Organics

E. Bader
April 24, 2024

We caught up with Frankie Grundler, co-founder of Quick Organics, at The Nest’s fall portfolio event where he shared about his mission to increase production and access to healthy, sustainable food.

Frankie Grundler looked at ease in the bucolic setting, his back to the fourteenth century farm building, rolling green pasture and Black Angus cattle grazing in his line of sight. From his outdoor attire to his relaxed demeanor and warm smile, he blended well with landscape of Domaine de Graux during The Nest’s fall portfolio event. Yet Grundler was not a farmer. He never even set out to work in agriculture.

“I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. As a child, I didn't want to be an astronaut or a doctor or firefighter or anything like that. I just wanted to be a businessperson like the rest of my family. That was my laser focus all the way through college.” Grundler explained.

After college, Grundler bought into his first company, a construction business. After a decade in construction-related industries, Grundler changed his focus from physical buildings to building successful businesses in the healthcare and the mental health field.

“Right about that time in my thirties, my dad came to all of us kids and said he was pursuing a childhood dream. He'd always wanted to be a farmer,” Grundler said. “He was a lifelong entrepreneur and when he exited his last company, he said, ‘I think I’m ready to go do this.’”

Grundler’s father purchased an organic farm. The decision to go organic was financially motivated at the time—there was the promise of better revenue—but through the process of managing organic production, the entire family got a crash course in the benefits of organic.

“Fast forward about nine growing seasons later, he was very passionate about soil health, regenerative agriculture, and getting cleaner, healthier food to the masses. He was aware of the very large challenges that we're faced with, around feeding the human race, and what's going to happen, in 2050, when we may have food deserts in the US, where we've never had food deserts before,” said Grundler.

Grundler’s wife, Miriam, was also an influence. Having lost her mom to cancer, she felt she learned too late the medical advice and anecdotal evidence of the connection between organic food and health. However, it was mental health concerns that planted Grundler’s idea for Quick Organics, a software platform to manage organic systems plans and farm records.

“Because I was in the mental health space at the time, I started looking at suicide rates for farmers. There have been some unsettling statistics, with the increase over the last 10 years. A lot of the increase had to do with the challenges around farming. I started seeing some of that happening with my father, seeing his stress level running a business where the profit margins were razor thin, and borrowing money once a year to live off the whole year before you can pay it back, only to contract with another loan again and again, in a constant cycle,” Grundler explained.

“As much as we need organic food for the health of the planet and people, the stress of managing everything is making it harder and harder to motivate farmers to choose organic.”

“So, we started to think of a better way. My dad had this idea of ‘if someone just had a Turbo Tax for organic certification, that would make a big difference. That would really help me focus on farming,’” said Grundler.

Grundler’s father applied his decades of experience building business practices to organic farm management by using spreadsheets and business intelligence tools to organize operations. As he shared the spreadsheets and tools with fellow farmers, they shared their knowledge of organic practices and provided feedback. The foundation for Quick Organics was born.

From there, Grundler took his concept for the Quick Organics software to the leadership of the National Organic Program, or NOP, and organic certifiers and inspectors. Grundler dedicated two years to honing the business concept, including ensuring the final product would be usable with a mobile device, in the field.

The paperwork to manage organic certification is daunting for farmers. In fact, the time and effort required to maintain organic records is a primary reason farms surrender or avoid organic certification. Grundler’s Quick Organics software solves the burden of organic paperwork. Farmers can more easily maintain certification and access to the premium price that certified organic products bring. Grundler sees the value in supporting farmers who care for the soil and raise healthy foods — and ensuring the farmers are compensated for that effort.

Quick Organics has the potential to address many challenges within the organic system, explained Grundler. These challenges include a lack of standardized processes among certifiers, staff shortages for certification and inspection bodies, and the need for better tools to share knowledge, train, and mentor new farmers.

One of the most important commitments for Grundler is that Quick Organics provides greater benefit to farmers than the cost of the software. For example, Grundler’s father was the first “prototype” for the networking and collaboration facets of Quick Organics. He shared how his father connected a group of growers, supported-information sharing, and even helped with finding markets for their products.

“We're not a typical SaaS company where the first thing we're going to do is just go charge the grower. The ones with the least disposable resources can't be the ones that are always paying the bill, right?” said Grundler. “It's on us to create a self-sustaining profitable business and make sure we take care of our shareholders. But there's got to be a better way to do this. We're fortunate enough to have some partners who believe in us and have given us some runway to figure that out.”

After years of listening carefully to farmers, certifiers, inspectors and diligently designing a tool to be simple and powerful, Quick Organics has been onboarding farms for formal user feedback. Farmer response to the tool has been overwhelmingly positive. Beta users report completing essential processes in 1/4 of the time it used to take them without Quick.

This past year the NOP expanded its organic standards to require more of the organic supply chain to become certified, including brokers and distributors of organic produce and grain. The NOP also includes recognition agreements for organic certification with Canada and the European Union. Quick Organics has a global market opportunity.

“Quick Organics can become most powerful for farmers when we are operating at scale. This is why we choose to find partners like The Nest that have more than just financial resources, but also have access to amazing networks that can help us get to that goal sooner,” said Grundler.

The road ahead for Grundler and Quick Organics is exciting, especially with the urgency around climate and soil health, and the expansion of the organic program. As much change as the future holds, Grundler’s mission and that of the organic community is singular.

“For everyone involved in the community, the reason we're doing this is because we really believe it is vital for us to grow healthy, clean, and sustainable food, and to have access to that food on a much bigger scale.”