Jonathan Bernwieser, Co-founder and CEO, Agrando GmbH

Agrando: Digitizing Agricultural Trade and Helping Family-run Farm Businesses Make Meaningful Business Decisions

In the world of digitalization, it is essential to have facilities for making online trade for every field, and this truth applies to the agriculture field as well. Certainly, digitalization, accompanied by groundbreaking technologies, can transform the agriculture sector and open doors for new opportunities.

Agricultural businesses can grow more if they have online access. Thus, creating a digital platform that facilitates online agricultural trade is of utmost importance for companies trading in the agricultural sector.

Taking this significance of digitization for agricultural trades into consideration, Agrando came into the inception. Agrando aims at digitizing agricultural retail across Europe. The company is shaping a sustainable agricultural market in which all market participants can do business with each other as efficiently and successfully as possible.

Today, Agrando is a team of more than 160 people with more than a dozen nationalities. Besides, it also expanded to Austria in 2020 and to France in 2021.

We, at Insights Success, caught up with Jonathan Bernwieser, the Co-founder and CEO of Agrando, to know more about Agrando and how it is breaking new ground in the agricultural industry together with its customers and partners.

Growing Together through Digitization

Headquartered in Munich, Germany, Agrando GmbH was founded in 2017. It operates from two locations, Munich and Pristina, Kosovo. Since its foundation, the company has followed the ideology that all players involved in agricultural trade can grow together through digitization. It makes the latest market knowledge available to all players. The more market participants use Agrando, the more everyone can benefit.

With the largest independent trading platform, Agrando systematically helps companies make meaningful business decisions. About 20,000 farmers are registered on the platform, with around 1,000 new farmers registering each month. Agrando stands for an increase in knowledge and opportunities – both for each individual business and for the entire agricultural sector.

Working with the Combination of Online and Offline Marketing

Talking about the journey of Agrando, Jonathan mentions that the company’s first investment came mainly from farmers themselves and other agtech enthusiasts because most early-stage investors could not relate to what it was trying to build. Agrando had already failed once, and Jonathan, coming from a farm, convinced those who knew the market that they are onto something can have a big impact.

Agrando was founded twice; the first version was only focusing on aggregating Supply and Demand. The team had to learn that if they really want to make a difference and work towards their purpose, they will have to dive a lot deeper and get themselves involved in the processes behind a transaction. They solved it by starting from scratch and building their own software with their own data architecture, which is able to reflect the complexities of input procurement.

In the beginning, Agrando focused solely on online marketing. But, it had to learn that if it communicates online with a target group that is not online, it can send out the greatest messages, but those messages will never be read. Today, Agrando works with a great combination of online and offline marketing.It has its own Customer Service team on the phone. It entered into partnerships with associations and other farmer communities and worked together to provide transparency about the benefits of digital tools. The company has learned that it’s the mix of online and offline/in-person and digital that holds the biggest potential.

In July 2021, Agrando closed its Series A funding round with the highest sum in Agtech in Europe ever. Investors such as the Munich-based yabeo impact AG, Sony Innovation Fund and Investbridge joined existing investors such as June Fund and JLR Star. This successful round will enable Agrando to focus on internationalization as well as R&D.

Giving Businesses a Competitive Edge

Agrando is the leading independent solution provider for digital agricultural trade. Its platform brings together all the players involved, simplifies traditional retail processes, and enables unique market analyses that help businesses of all kinds remain competitive in the complex agricultural economy in the long term.

At first sight, Agrando is a retail platform for farmers to buy their supplies and for retailers to sell them. However, after realizing that a mere online shop would not help agriculture facing the future, Agrando built its own software and data warehouse to truly support agricultural companies of any size. That is what makes Agrando different from other companies: Agrando is not just a marketing agency or online store.

The company owns the necessary infrastructure to offer fact-based support for farmers to make profitable decisions and save money and resources in the long run. This enables Agrando to connect retail partners who otherwise would not have met. Even in such a regional business to every stakeholder, Agrando offers trade-specific advice and solutions.

As mentioned before, Agrando’s target group wasn’t online yet. Both farmers and retailers lacked the infrastructure to make purchases digitally. It knows that the majority of farmers across Europe would like to shop online – but only a fraction actually do so. The reasons are often simple: there is a lack of infrastructure, purchasing is too time-consuming, and the young generation of farmers does not find the service that they are used to in other areas: fast response times, expert advice, price transparency.

Turning Crisis into Advantage 

Even during 2020 and so far during 2021, Agrando did not stop hiring people. It turned the pandemic into an advantage: For example, with people working mainly from home, it could look for new talents outside the geographical radius of its office buildings.

The biggest challenge is the one its clients are facing: COVID-19 hit the agriculture sector, and these businesses were and are facing completely new obstacles. Reaching them and offering its support despite that has been the true challenge for Agrando.

Making Agricultural Regional Structures Fit for Future

We asked Jonathan his thought on the necessity of a positive work culture, to which he answers, “I would transform positive work culture more into a purpose and a value-driven work culture. Values and purpose come first. We make sure we only involve people in our project who match our company’s values and who join Agrando because of our purpose to make agricultural regional structures fit for the future.”

He further adds, “We also prioritize feedback and open communication: Team members are not left alone with their questions, or feedback. We keep up a high level of exchange routines throughout the entire company and we make sure that team events can still take place, virtually or face to face.”

Utilizing Technology for Availing Edge and Being Profitable

Especially in the agriculture industry, digitization arrived rather later than sooner. However, factors like accessibility, transparency, and targeting (new) customers are very important in every field. Jonathan mentions that he is convinced that businesses definitely need to invest in newer technological developments in order to stay competitive and profitable. But it is also the responsibility of companies like Agrando to be supportive partners during that process. He asserts, “A small, family-run farm does not have to invest in their own IT services, a small retailer does not have to invest in a 24/7 e-commerce agency. That’s where we step in. We bring the knowledge and infrastructure to enable agricultural companies of any size to use these technological developments to their advantage.”

Strengthening Regional Structures

Agrando’s goal has always been to strengthen regional structures, allow small agriculture businesses to strive, be more flexible in financial decisions, and make more profit. It is creating the opportunity for farms to position themselves for the future and counteract structural change in Europe.

When Jonathan looks at farms, he sees farmers who are not 100% dependent on the industry, but who continue to run their businesses with same passion and entrepreneurial spirit. With Agrando’s support, they can do that with even more success.

Jonathan believes that Agrando will have expanded to a number of countries in Europe in the next five years. It will have established itself as a strong and valuable partner for farmers and agricultural businesses.

Hear it from Satisifed Clientele

“At the regional retailers where I have bought or sold before, I get better prices than before. We also found new traders. They are not far away, but we didn’t know them before.” – Johannes Dierks, farmer.

“The conditions for agricultural retail are changing, and we have been feeling this for the last few years. With Agrando, I have better prospects for the future. I trust the team to provide me and my customers with the right services. If we really all end up working in the same system and everyone has the same starting point in terms of market information, we can finally start investing the newly won time in personal contact, additional services and really good advice again.” – Christian Hastreiter, retail.

“Agrando’s service can be very helpful for economic planning on farms. Agrando takes care of the timeconsuming research, evaluates current market data and connects the farmer with trustworthy retailers. With the Agrando Pro Service, valuable time and unnecessary stress can be saved in the procurement of inputs, and in addition Agrando offers personal support in purchasing planning and processing.” – Christian Kluge, managing director Bremischer Landwirtschaftsverband e.V. (agricultural association Bremen, Germany)