Janelle Maiocco has been around farming, in one way or another, for much of her life. Her grandfather was a dairy farmer in Lynden, Wash., just a few miles south of the Canadian border, and she grew up in an agricultural community “picking berries and riding tractors,” as she describes it.
In her adult life, Maiocco is CEO of Barn2Door, a Seattle startup that makes e-commerce software for farmers. The startup just raised a $3.4 million investment round to continue building its technology that connects farms with customers.
The 4-year-old startup has farm clients scattered across 40 states, with its heaviest concentration in the Midwest. Maiocco, who is also a trained chef and worked in Europe, said her background helped develop a passion for increasing access to sustainable food.
“I feel a deep conviction about helping to improve access to clean, sustainable foods that are locally produced,” she said. “At Barn2Door, we aim to make it easy for farmers to sell their food online, improving the convenience for their customers. By doing so, we can promote better stewardship of our planet, and improve the margins and viability of family-owned farms.”
Barn2Door is Maiocco’s second take on a startup for farmers. Barn2Door was founded in 2015, soon after Maiocco pulled the plug on Farmstr, an organic food marketplace that connected consumers with farmers. Farmstr had a much larger scope: aggregating products, acquiring and marketing to customers, and managing and fulfilling food orders. Maiocco said that model was too expensive to be profitable.
Barn2Door takes a narrower approach, focusing exclusively on making software that helps farmers connect with and sell to customers. The farmers are responsible for the rest of the process, including fulfilling and delivering orders.
Maiocco compared Barn2Door to Mindbody, a software provider for salons and spas, and restaurant software maker ChowNow. Like Barn2Door, these companies tailor their products to the target audience to “streamline operations, enable payments, and manage customers,” Maiocco said.
The technology industry has turned to food in recent years as new data has shown the amount of resources it takes to feed a rapidly growing planet. The success of companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods point to an appetite for a new approach.
Barn2Door isn’t the only Seattle startup looking to make it easier for farmers to connect with customers. Crowd Cow continues to gain momentum and investment as it uses technology to deliver sustainably-raised meat to customers across the U.S.
Maiocco acknowledged the tech industry’s investment in food, but emphasized that Barn2Door is staying focused on its specific mission.
“There is a lot of innovation in food right now, capturing a lot of publicity,” she said. “We steer clear of the trends, and remain purely focused on enabling farmers, with clean and sustainable practices, to better serve their customers directly — their success is our success.”
The Series A round was led by Lead Edge Capital, with participation from Global Founders Capital and other investors. The 25-person startup has now raised more than $4.5 million in its lifetime, and its backers include heavy hitters in the Pacific Northwest food scene including Sugar Mountain Capital, Fire & Vine Hospitality and Canlis Restaurant.