A CSA Management App: Idea Exploration and The Business Model

Posted by on Jan 24, 2014 in Articles, Business | No Comments


Please read Post #1 Exploring an Idea: A CSA Management Application before reading this next step.

Idea Exploration

So for about 25 years CSA’s have been a way for customers to buy their food directly from a farmer through a share of the years crops. Basically you lay out a few hundred dollars at the beginning of the season and you are guaranteed a portion of the crops throughout the season. From the customer standpoint it is a great way to get nutritious food on your family’s table and be connected to where that food comes from. From the farmers standpoint it gives you the capital to buy everything you need at the beginning of the season like seeds, workers, soil, water, etc when the costs are the highest. It’s a win-win type of transaction.

More and more small farms are starting to get online and at least have a website that talks a little about their CSA and possibly a PDF download that the customer can send in to sign up for the CSA.

So I’m seeing two users in this application; The Customers and The Farmers.

The Customers: We will only be servicing them with the farms mini-website where they can sign up for the CSA and get a username. With that account they can login later in the season to view the upcoming week’s bounty. We might also add a feature where they can specify preference of certain products.

The Farmers: The Farmers will have an admin system where they can view all the members in their CSA, view/process payments, update the week’s products, and send out an email to their members. They will also have the ability to setup a simple mini website for their farm on our system.

Although large agriculture may have completely embraced technology, the small farmer is more than likely working with simple desktop computer. Their customers on the other hand tend to be “characterized as middle to upper-middle class with one or both spouses holding a college degree” and more than likely have smart phones. link With this information in hand I want to build a desktop application that has a responsive design to work on all devices (desktop, tablet and mobile). This will serve both of my users even though they are polar opposites when it comes to technology.

The Business Model

I’ve been toying with two business models for this application; a percentage based fee and a flat monthly fee. There will also be a Free option to setup your simple mini website on the system for the farms. We won’t start collecting fees until they want to setup and manage the CSA.

The Percentage Based Fee
This business model will take a percentage of the fee users pay to sign up for the CSA. This plays into the whole CSA model where farmers have the money at the beginning of the season. They can also mark up their share price to absorb the percentage we are taking.

The Flat Monthly Fee
This business models charges the farmer a flat monthly fee to use the service. This may work really well with farms that have a year long CSA membership but may turn the seasonal farmer off.

At this point in the project I am leaning towards the percentage based fee with the option of a Free option to setup your simple mini website on the system.

Alright so we’ve explored the idea and now have a business model to move forward and make this a profitable business. Up next we will be digging more into these customers (Personas) and also mapping out some of the tasks they might want to do with our product (User Journeys).