Posted September 24, 2020

Since Marc Andreessen declared it 10 years ago software has eaten so much of the world — transportation, real estate, communication, banking, and more. Yet the agriculture industry (the stuff we actually eat!) has largely remained unchanged by technology, despite being the largest category of consumer spend, the presence of massive waste (40 percent of perishable food is wasted in the supply chain), and a renewed focus on having a resilient food supply chain in a post-COVID era. Food distributors are at the heart of this supply chain — they are responsible for connecting growers, grocers, restaurants, and even other distributors. And this dense network of relationships requires a high degree of operational and logistical excellence, as fresh food begins losing value the moment it enters the supply chain.

That’s why we were so excited when we met Ashton Braun and Antonio Bustamante, the founders of Silo: an operating system and system of record for wholesale food distributors that is reducing waste, improving margins, and catalyzing an historic shift from pencil and paper (really) to software. The product has exceptionally strong market fit because it solves so many of the operational problems that distributors have. Price sheets, inventory, purchase orders, logistics, and even accounting is all handled on the Silo platform; this is for food distributors what Toast is for restaurants.

Silo is a “system of record” for wholesale food predicated on partnering with and supporting existing distributors, instead of competing with or otherwise “disrupting” them. As a result, there is a strong network emerging, which Silo’s technology aims to assist in driving further reductions in spoilage and increasing profits for all participants within the supply chain. We believe that financial services will be a key enabler of this ecosystem, where factoring and faster payments, coupled with laws like PACA, can solve many of the cashflow challenges that growers and distributors face. Indeed, Silo is an excellent example of the kind of “fintech adjacent” businesses that we’re excited to invest in.

As with all investments, the team is the central lynchpin. In this case, Ashton and Antonio’s passion, knowledge, and deep expertise for the ag space make them an incredibly compelling team to solve this problem. Twenty years ago, most founders worked on either enterprise software or a consumer product. Silo deftly melds both, applying technology thinking to a domain that’s largely been ignored by builders and technologists. Beyond the technical expertise and customer-first vision we look for in founders, Ashton and Antontio also have the on-the-ground experience that is necessary in this interconnected, largely family-driven space: in fact, they started this business hand-delivering pallets of farm-grown food in a cargo van!

We couldn’t be prouder to be investing in Silo. We’re incredibly excited to see its vision of a more efficient, sustainable, and less wasteful food supply chain realized.

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