Why one man quit his cushy tech job and started selling meat
Welcome Rick Rodgers of Sproutfield. Rick has a true passion for high quality meat, so much so that he stepped down from his role as COO of a software company.
Q. Thanks for joining me today Rick. Tell us a little about yourself.
Sure! My background is primarily in the technology industry, which I dove into over 20 years ago when I got my first job building computers. I started my first company back in 2004, an online research firm, which ignited my passion for growing companies. I've travelled extensively and lived overseas for about six years. Most recently I was COO at Good Done Great, a SaaS firm focused on Corporate Social Responsibility.
Q. Describe Sproutfield in 5 words.
Pasture Raised Meats: Home Delivered!
Q. Did you always have a love for meat or was this just something you fell into?
I have always loved trying new foods, and one of my motivations for starting Sproutfield was to give people more choices in the meat that they buy. I first had the idea for this business when I tasted some pork shoulder at a BBQ. I had never tried Berkshire pork before that, and I was blown away by the flavor. Traditional Industrial agriculture has created a very limited set of choices for both consumers and farmers. Our goal is to build a more direct connection between the people growing the food and people looking for better choices.
Q. What went through your mind and how hard was your decision to leave your comfortable tech job?
I worked with my previous firm for about a year and a half when I started reading books like The Third Plate by Dan Barber and others. What I found was a food system which presented a lot of false choices to consumers, and it was incredibly frustrating to see the way this monopoly has developed over the past 40-50 years.
I looked at technology, e-commerce in particular, as a tool which can help bridge the gap get consumers back in touch with how their food is grown. At that point the decision was made, I just had to figure out what to tackle first.
Q. For all those meat eaters out there, why should they buy their cuts from you?
Check out our reviews! But seriously, if you are looking for meat that you know is healthy AND has crazy good flavor, we are a great choice.
Q. Did you know anything about selling online before you started this venture?
I started selling on eBay in '99 to fund my photography habit. I was familiar with it on a consumer level, but not from the standpoint of managing a store and supply chain.
Q. What made you choose Shopify as your platform to sell high quality meat to America?
I actually worked in a startup that sold SaaS software back in 2002, and I've dealt with building and maintaining my own technology infrastructure before. A hosted solution was the only logical choice, and the App Store was icing on the cake.
Q. Do you have any favorite Shopify Apps? If so, why?
Yotpo and Google Shopping. Yotpo is an incredible platform for managing reviews, and their support for Rich Snippets and Google Seller Ratings is fantastic. The Google Shopping App let me setup my product feeds for Google Shopping ads in about 15 minutes.
Q. What are some things you've learned so far that have really helped you break through some challenges or roadblocks?
I went through about 3 different versions of the design in 5 months, and I think the ease of adapting a new theme to the Shopify platform has been huge.
The other challenge is just helping grow awareness of the option of buying food online. Most people still buy everything at the grocery store, so we try to help expand that perspective through reviews and word of mouth.
Q. What's next for Sproutfield?
This Sunday we are very excited to be one of the suppliers selected to participate in the Cochon 555 event in Washington DC. Next month we will be rolling out our subscription service to make it even easier to get these great cuts home delivered year-round.