Silicon Valley vs. Saginaw Valley

February 25, 2014 06:12 PM
 
Silicon Valley vs. Saginaw Valley

Growing up on a family farm near Caro, Mich., Jesse Vollmar enjoyed the hard work and rewards of agriculture. But there was something he loved a little bit more—technology. By the time he got to high school, Vollmar and two friends scraped together $1,500 and formed Aedis IT, creating custom software and IT support for local businesses.

For college, Vollmar journeyed to Saginaw Valley, Mich. As a part of Aedis IT, he coded inventory management software for farmers, which became his inspiration for FarmLogs—a business Vollmar and his friends started after college. They traveled west after receiving startup funds from Y Combinator, an accelerator in the San Francisco Bay area that offers seed money, advice and connections during an intense three-month program. After that, they had the tools they needed to take FarmLogs to the next level, but they also had a big decision to make.

"We started in Silicon Valley, but we had to choose whether to move back to the Midwest," he says. "There’s a huge concentration of talent in California, but we were missing that direct access to our customer base." Ultimately, FarmLogs relocated to Ann Arbor, Mich. Today, the company has nine full-time employees and offers a suite of digital services for farmers to analyze crops, forecast and measure profits and manage risk. Recently named among Forbes "30 Under 30," Vollmar says it was a pleasant surprise but adds that he wants to stay true to his roots. "Farming is where I come from," he says. "It’s an industry I really want to help move forward."
 

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