New service brings buyers and sellers of grain together

FarmLead pivoted to a free-service model with the launch of Combyne, the company’s next generation platform.

“We’re not going to try to monetize the transaction going forward. Instead we’ll introduce some premium-subscription-based features down the road, maybe in the summer or the fall,” said FarmLead chief executive officer Brennan Turner.

He said users will appreciate how Combyne is designed to improve the relationship between buyers and sellers of grain by helping set expectations between the two parties before they have a conversation.

“The way the tool works is, I have a filtered list and I get notified when they post a deal. So I understand where my network of farmers or grain buyers are sitting, in terms of what they are thinking about in terms of buying or selling on their next deal,” Turner said.

Users can find new trading partners and organize the trading network they already have on the Combyne dashboard, which is accessible through a computer or mobile app.

Combyne also has elements that make it similar to a social media platform, in that users create a profile and link it to people or companies they have or want a business relationship with.

Information can be added to profiles that will help others decide if they want to be in business with you, including location, certifications, payment schemes, whether a company is bonded by the Canadian Grain Commission, and even a profile picture.

“There is also a community curation dynamic. If this person is a bad trading partner or they may be hassling you or anything like that, you can report them, and we review those. I’m happy to say we haven’t had to kick anyone off the tool,” Turner said.

The verified-buyer checkmark that was part of FarmLead has been retained in the new platform.

Combyne allows people to see upfront who they are making a deal with, and there’s a call function on the app so users can quickly call their trading partners to finish a trade.

Combyne users can decide if they want to post a deal on the service publicly or to only their private network.

For instance, Turner said a large grain elevator that participated in the beta testing of the platform only posts to the 180 farms on its own private network.

“We’re in the final stages of completing our Ag Data Transparent seal. Ultimately, you are in charge of where your data goes; we’re a big believer in that,” Turner said.

When subscription-based features are launched they will use aggregated and anonymized sales data that won’t be traceable to individual users.

The features will likely include historical grain prices in specific regions throughout the Prairies, which will greatly help producers with market analysis, including for crops they are thinking of growing for the first time.

A market analysis feature will describe crops that are either selling well or not moving at all in specific areas, and it will also provide behavioural insights on trusted trading partners.

“I can get notified when maybe one of my buyers is buying grain within 30 or 40 cents of what the target I put out there on Combyne. That’s an indication to help manage that relationship,” Turner said.

He said over the past five years, FarmLead has assembled more than two million logged data price events and more than US$2 billion in sales in its first generation marketplace, which is being used as a foundation to build the subscription insight features in Combyne.

However, even when the paid subscription features become available, there will always be a free version of Combyne available that will help trading relationships become more efficient.

“Everything that you see today is going to be free forever. There is not going to be a day where we’re going to turn on a fee you have to pay to get into the tool,” Turner said.

“The way we built the tool is to augment the relationship or build on the relationship you have and move it over to that digital age that we are now in, and to help set expectations. We don’t have to waste each other’s time if my price isn’t really close to your price.”

To create a free account on Combyne, go to www.combyne.ag.

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