“We are in arguably one of the most exciting times for the ag industry,” said John Paul, CEO and president of Cultivated Technology Group.
Family farms face issues with water access, commodity pricing, labor costs, and corporatization.
But fourth-generation farmer and now tech company CEO Paul says web development can open a new world of customers to family farms. Not to mention streamlining the ag process.
“Today your presence on who you are and what you do is so important and it pays without you even knowing, because again, the buying mentality is completely different now and it’s more accessible,” Paul said.
Three years ago, Cultivated started with three people, building websites for farming operations. Now, the company is building websites and doing tech consulting for farmers, school districts, and automotive companies.
The grandson of the Fresno Fairground theater’s namesake, Paul Paul, Paul wants people to know tech in the Valley is still strong.
“Sometimes it’s just us helping these companies maintain their systems, give them a dedicated set of hours, maybe use the term CTO on demand,” Paul said.
Company Starts With Farming, Expands to Education
The company started on a contract with Fresno Irrigation District in 2020. Paul said word of mouth introduced them to Merced Union High School District and then Madera Unified School District.
In that time, they expanded to 12 employees working out of their office in Madera.
They partner with Fresno City College and Fresno State to find interns. Three of their 12 employees came from those internship programs.
But Paul worries about growing too fast, as many in the tech sector have.
“We’re not going to risk any outside influence or, you know, take a huge leap of faith without knowing that we’ve got a calculated destination on the other side of it,” Paul said.
Paul: Consumers Want a Story With Their Food
Paul’s family grows stone fruit in Selma as Pipco Fruit Co., which started in 1947. Paul’s father merged the digital and farming worlds early on with his company Bouquet of Fruit.
For small farms, the key to survival is visibility, says Paul.
“The small family farm is shrinking because those opportunities don’t exist because people can’t find them,” Paul said.
Paul sees farmers’ customer base broadening from large grocery store chains. Beyond the farmer’s market, growers are entering the digital space, selling directly to consumers.
“I want Cultivated to be known in this community as the tech destination for software development, for websites, for anything that is relatable to a person on a computer that has, you know, a need,” Paul said.