This is the first year that the number of mobile devices exceeds the number of people on the planet and local farmers and agribusinesses have the opportunity to use this boost in technology to their advantage through Ag Link Connect.
Ag Link Connect is an up and coming application for iPhones and iPads that allows local consumers that download the app to see deals at local agricultural businesses, restaurants, fruit stands, markets and more. The app was developed by local couple Jana and Rob Nairn of Ballico, who both graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with degrees in Agricultural Business. The Nairn’s founded Ag Link Connect as a way to integrate their three passions: agriculture, technology and direct marketing.
“I want to elevate the local gems in this region,” explained Jana Nairn. “We’re striving to consolidate agricultural information which is really valuable for the consumer to access.”
The Nairn’s originally conceived of developing an app for locals to find local fresh fruit stands, but when that project proved too narrow the idea of connecting consumers with all types of agricultural businesses evolved. Featuring a mapping interface that allows users to see their proximity to agriculture related businesses, Ag Link Connect lists these options by merchant category, including: Artisan Foods; Agri-tainment and Farm Tours; Farmers Markets; Museums, Arts and Education; Gardens and Nurseries; Outdoor Fun and Recreation; Wine and Spirits Tasting; RV Parks and Campgrounds and Farm to Table Restaurants.
However, the goal of the app is to not only increase consumer access to fresh, local food but to also benefit local agricultural businesses by creating a unified marketing approach. Ag Link Connect allows businesses to come together and collectively market to a niche audience, ultimately accessing a larger audience together than any one business could reach on its own.
“We’re much more powerful as a group than we are as individuals,” explained Tom Reynolds, integrated marketing specialist for Ag Link.
Businesses will be listed in each of the merchant categories and then have their own customizable business profile to list not only their featured product but real-time deals and events. Consumers are also allowed to check in and share their experience by posting 24 second videos to each business’ profile. However, the success of the app is ultimately contingent upon local businesses willingness to buy into it at a rate of $35 a month and businesses can utilize a 90-day trial offer before committing.
“If you become a part of this you’ve not only elevated your business but you’ve elevated the region,” explained Jana Nairn to local business representatives Thursday morning at an informational event for local businesses co-hosted between the Ag Link team and the Turlock Chamber of Commerce.
With the aim of developing the app for the immediate area of Turlock and then expanding to the Stanislaus and Merced Counties, several local companies were in attendance to hear more information about Ag Link Connect, including Pageo Lavender Farms, Blueberry Bluff, Turlock Farmers Market representatives, RAM Farms, Hilmar Cheese, Village Fresh Market and more. With 175 businesses identified for outreach and more than 20 on board thus far, Ag Link aims to have 50 businesses signed up before the app launches.
“It’s easy and economical. We’re all on the same page as businesses and the app helps everyone so I’m for anything that brings new business to the area,” said George Kapor of Pageo Farms, whose technological outreach is limited to a company website and Facebook.
The Ag Link Connect team will be at the Stanislaus and Merced County Fairs to promote the app which is free for consumers and set to launch in mid-June. An app for Android phones is set to be available in the future as well.