Harvie Raises $236,535 to Scale Up in Crowdfunding Success!
There was a time where if you wanted to get local food, you had to go to the farmer’s market, or a local co-op grocery store if your community had it. Farmer’s markets are great and all, but what if you could access local food from your front step?
This is what Harvie, a platform that connects consumers with products from local farmers and artisans, does.
Simon Huntley, founder of Harvie, grew up on a small farm, and through his work after college decided to blend his passions for agriculture and technology to create the platform. In 2006, he started working on solutions for farmers supported by technology including a CSA management system. By 2015, he noticed a need for an online marketplace that was both customer-friendly and supported small farmers, and so he began Harvie.
Through Harvie, Simon has been working with the mission of supporting small farmers and artisans and helping their businesses become more economically sustainable.
“At Harvie, we think of this work as a movement to change the way the world eats. And movements to change the world are all about many people coming together around something they care about to create change,” says Simon.
Harvie’s model has proven to be quite effective. In just four years after starting the Harvie platform, they’ve grown to over 200 farms and 150,000 consumers across the United States and Canada. If you think about it, that makes up a whole lot of shares of locally-sourced lettuce, cheese, salsa, and mushrooms!
Honeycomb has worked with businesses throughout the food system that are working towards making it more sustainable and equitable - from slow food restaurants to organic farms that involve their community in CSA shares. Food production and consumption are at the core of communities, which make them ideal for crowdfunding and for gathering people around a business.
In order to fund their growth, Harvie looked to crowdfunding with Honeycomb and raised one of the largest campaign raises yet! With their Honeycomb campaign, Harvie Farms was able to raise $236,535 from 181 investors, paving the way for their expansion in Pittsburgh and across the country!
Building a stronger food system, one box of food at a time
By making it easier for people to access fresh, local food, Harvie is making it obvious that the local food system doesn’t need to be relegated to farmer’s markets or fancy farm-to-table restaurants. It can also be convenient!
This idea of convenience is grounded in a key concept of food studies — the food choice triangle. Creator Warren Belasco notes that food choices are often made on three considerations: cultural identity, responsibility, and convenience. Harvie works toward bridging the divide between responsibility —wanting to make a food choice that positively impacts the social and environmental landscape — and convenience.
The way Harvie’s system works is that consumers can subscribe through Harvie for a regular delivery of local groceries. They can set the amount of food they want at different price points and can customize their box to get exactly what they want. Harvie then works with local farmers and producers to pack customer-specific boxes for delivery.
The need for a platform like Harvie is integral for small farmers, who often don’t have the time or resources to market their products. Harvie creates a new supply chain for these farmers so they can have a more direct relationship with customers — but in order to make the platform work, Harvie needed to invest in the infrastructure and marketing to grow their customer base.
“If local food is going to try to compete with the large corporations that dominate our food system, we don’t stand a chance unless we start investing in marketing to make that happen,” says Simon. “It’s extra critical for us because we’re trying to inspire behavior change that will shift buying patterns to local producers. This takes extra work, and funds, to get right.”
Scaling Up the Local Food Movement through Local Crowdfunding
It was obvious that Harvie’s local food delivery box model was in the perfect environment for growth, but they needed the resources to do it. Simon needed a way to fund a strong marketing team as well as improve upon Harvie’s distribution operations in order to scale up the platform. This led to their decision to crowdfund with Honeycomb Credit.
“Honeycomb and Harvie both have a vision of moving resources into the hands of small, Main Street businesses and supporting local economies instead of large corporations,” says Simon.
Although they are a tech-driven company, Harvie didn’t want to look at equity - up until their Honeycomb campaign, they were fully funded by their own revenue! However, with growth, they realized that they needed some capital in order to make the next step into capital expansion.
“We realized that to really scale this model, we need some up front funds to invest in marketing to jump start our growth,” notes Simon. He also saw an opportunity where he could use a Honeycomb campaign to grow Harvie in two different ways: raising capital and raising consumer awareness of his platform.
“These funds are immediately bringing new customers onto the platform, generating more revenue, and funding future marketing efforts and growth. But until that ball is really rolling, this Honeycomb investment will help us bridge the gap and build the early momentum we need for this movement.”
Simon also saw that Harvie and Honeycomb’s missions aligned a lot with their focus on local economies.
“Both of us are giving people a way to do good for their communities in a way that also benefits them, whether by making it easier to get the food they want, or by giving lucrative investment opportunities,” he says. “It was a treat to partner with another great Pittsburgh business driving positive change in the world.”
Bringing farm stands into the future
With their influx of capital, Harvie Farms has big plans for the next decade. They have the goal of implementing 2400 weekly deliveries in Pittsburgh by the end of the year, and 5 million users on the platform globally by 2030.
To do this, they’ve invested in a new marketing team using some of their Honeycomb campaign’s capital raise, though the campaign itself was also a really valuable tool for them in connecting with potential new customer-investors!
“The number of people we were able to connect with through this campaign, and who ultimately engaged in it was a nice way to let more folks know about our service providing home-delivered local groceries and the movement we’re ushering forward to support local food systems,” says Simon.
“Over the past year and half we’ve felt the momentum building behind this movement to change the way the world eats and we were glad to be able to harness that [in our Honeycomb campaign] and give people a new way to be a part of Harvie,” says Simon.
“I think that this says good things about the broader goals we have for national growth,” he continues. “Now it’s up to us to keep the momentum going as we work toward our goal of 2400 weekly deliveries in Pittsburgh by the end of the year, and 5 million users on the platform globally by 2030.”
Crowdfunding from nationwide local food delivery to small family-owned farms
Honeycomb has a proven track record of success with farmers from Clarion River Organics (who also distribute through Harvie) to those who support them through innovative use of technology like Harvie. No matter where your business fits into the food system, crowdfunding is a great way of accessing the capital you need to grow.
Learn more by heading to www.honeycombcredit.com/grow and sign up below for more information!