“Why the hell haven’t you built my feature requests yet?”
At least a few times a week, we hear from producers asking “why haven’t you built the feature I asked for months ago?” Many requests are for grazing planning, but I can hear the pent-up frustration behind the other complaints. How hard could it be to add more herd details, or water pipelines? Why doesn’t PastureMap care about my needs? Every one of those hits home for me. I care about your needs. You are the reason I started this business. We don’t ever want to give you the impression that we don’t care about your needs. When we can’t get to your feature request right away, here’s why.
You matter a great deal to us.
We release new updates every two weeks, based on the requests coming in from our paid customers. We have a private Facebook group where customers request what they want. Every quarter, we hear from hundreds of users and plan our product roadmap on your feedback. If we can’t build what you need yet, we try our best to find you a workaround.
We’re in this for the long haul. Here’s our vision.
I started this business four years ago with $30k of my life savings. I’ve struggled with a lifetime of food allergies. I owe a debt of gratitude to the local producers who feed me and my loved ones. I have also worked as a farm hand. I’ve seen the late night calvings, and the ranch days that go sideways, and how there can be many hands, but still never enough time. I saw late nights over pen and paper, and my farmer’s worries that his decades of knowledge would be lost once he’s gone.
PastureMap isn’t just a grazing app. PastureMap is a way for the whole ranch team to stay on the same page. We help teams work better. We help share knowledge and pass it on to the next generation. We’re also building new revenue streams for the next generation to have profitable careers on working lands. PastureMap will help producers get rewarded for practices that build healthy grasslands. We help producers share information about their soil, wildlife, and plant results on the land. This will help producers get paid for regenerative outcomes by consumers, brands, and carbon markets.
We’re still a small startup and we’re building the living room.
Slowly, by meeting 3000 ranchers at grazing conferences, I found our first customers. Even more slowly and painstakingly, we found investors who support regenerative food systems. My cofounder George has the equivalent of his daughters’ college fund invested in our business. Neither of us took salary for a long time. Our team is about half with ranching and farming backgrounds, half tech people. We are still very far from profitability.
Building software is like maintaining a house. There’s always things to fix up. But when the living room is still gaping open and roofless, you have to hold off on future additions. We’ve been working for the past 6 months on grazing planning, by far the top request from our customers. We’re also building soil health data sharing into PastureMap. This will be a big step in helping producers get rewarded for soil health practices. Grazing planning and soil health data sharing are our “living room” priorities in 2018.
Here’s what it costs.
A feature like “add sheep herds” costs $30,000-50,000 and takes 12-18 weeks to build. Our product manager Andrea interviews producers and writes specifications. She thinks through how the feature works on three platforms – iPhone, Android, and Web. Our designer Jeff makes clickable prototypes, revising 2-3 times with producer feedback. George designs the data architecture – the “pipes” of how the data works behind the scenes. Our developers, Jai and Ivan, code the front end – the “wallpaper” of buttons, maps, and interface. We release a beta to our paid user community with early testing privileges. They do their best to break it! We do several rounds of bug fixing and design tweaks before launch. Like a house, it is never finished. Each feature is worked on by six people from start to finish – our entire product team. We can work on 2-3 features at any given time.
To our customers, you can reach me anytime. If we’re ever in the same town for a grazing conference, or if you come through the Bay Area, I’d be glad to take you out for coffee or a beer.