|In the Dongdaemun Design Plaza Farmer's Market, farmers from all regions gather to provide the freshest organic food directly to consumers. Photo provided by Kim Kang-san.
Farmtory introduces its 3,000 followers on Facebook to a healthy food culture and helps them eat fresh organic produce. As a mobile-based social venture, Farmtory enables consumers to receive agricultural products and communicate during the distribution process directly with the retailers.
The efficacy of Farmtory has already been verified numerous times, as it was recognized as the Hanyang Lion Cup winner by the Korea Mobile Awards and grand prize winner at the Rural Tourism App Creating Contest.
Kim Kang-san, a Mechanical Engineering major at Hanyang University founded Farmtory with other social venture club members. Kim, who spent about 10 years with his parents managing a peach farm, observed that the profit system for the producers was insufficient.
He decided to participate in the “Young Innovator Challenge Season 2,” a crowd-funding support program held by Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science & Creativity. His idea for Farmtory enabled Kim to receive start-up related education from experts and build a more systemized company through crowd-funding.
Farmtory is based on a marketing strategy called Offline to Online (O2O) service. It connects offline events online allowing consumers to easily buy organic and fresh food via the internet. Farmtory provides a service to ease the complex steps that both consumers and producers would otherwise have to go through by linking trustworthy farmers that the company has vetted, with the public. Furthermore, for the farmers, the service allows them to increase profit by shortening the distribution stages.
“Receiving feedback from consumers was amazing, but it was quite difficult for the farmers, as they are not used to using apps and SNS,” Kim said. “We therefore stopped using the ‘Treeing’ app. Instead, we are currently working on another beta service that is more accessible to farmers.”
Consumer trust was crucial for Farmtory, so the company put in a lot of effort in order to attract users and gain their trust.
“In our early stages as a budding company, our team traveled around the country to meet farmers and evaluate their farms and integrity,” Kim said.
One of the major partners working with Farmtory is Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) where a farmers’ market is held each second and fourth Saturday of the month. The DDP Farmers’ Market is an event where farmers from all regions come together and promote their products directly to consumers. An estimated 50,000 people visit per day. There, Kim and his team members help farmers connect with consumers and promote their agricultural products.
Farmtory also shares stories of farming life and the farmers themselves through social media such as Facebook and Instagram. They upload videos on how to make tea or jam, or “Story of an Urban Farmer.”
Moreover, they organize special events, such as “Farmtory Box,” a DIY kit where people can easily make their own snacks, including fruit chip chocolate. Through Farmtory, people are able to experience farm life vicariously and try things that are otherwise difficult to achieve.
“One of my goals is to expand the farmers’ market in Korea,” Kim said. “There are about 100 farmers’ markets around the nation, which is very little compared to the neighboring farmers in Japan.”
Kim hopes to increase the direct dealing market to 1,500 and added that the project should not be too difficult for the team considering how quickly Farmtory grew.