In light of COVID-19, many consumers found themselves avoiding grocery stores and finding new alternatives to purchase food direct from the source. Enter Cropswap - the app designed to connect consumers directly to independent growers and farmers in their local community. Cropswap founder Rob Reiner sat down with Chris Snyder recently to discuss how food purchasing habits are changing in response to the global pandemic.
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"What I hope is that the future really separates food from products and we really getting serious about that because if we don't, then we're gonna get stuck with, 'OK, we need science again to help cure us from these things when it's already in front of us.'" - Rob Reiner, Cropswap
"With Cropswap what we're doing, when you talk about a shared economy, a lot of people think - sharing your car, sharing your home. But what you're really sharing is the economy of that group." - Rob Reiner, Cropswap
"Don't put an age to your goals because I made that mistake consistently. Definitely don't put an age on your goals because you're not going to be right no matter what. You're gonna be wrong on that one." - Rob Reiner, Cropswap
Chris Snyder [00:00:43] Hello, everyone, Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown president at Juhll.Com and founder of Banks.com. On this show, we talk with industry leaders and entrepreneurs about what's working and what's not with their growth programs. In addition, we want to hear how industry leaders are guiding their teams through this tough time of COVID-19. Just a quick word from our sponsor. Juhll is a full-service digital consultancy, and we focus on helping executives solve their toughest digital growth problems. We do this while working as an extension of their executive team. We quickly identify the biggest problems impeding growth. We propose solutions that give you the best opportunity for success. Finally, the work has to get done. So we bring a private marketplace, a vetted world-class talent to execute your plan. Of course, we manage this whole process to learn more. That's Juhll.Com where you can email me personally. It's Chris@juhll.com. OK. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce Rob Reiner. He is the CEO and founder of Cropswap, a game-changing farm to phone app that connects consumers, farmers, and growers in their communities to purchase fresh produce. The Koven 19 outbreak has created an increased consumer demand for alternatives to traditional grocery store shopping. Rob is here today to share with us how Cropswap is addressing that demand while connecting consumers directly to farmers in their communities. Welcome, Rob.
Rob Reiner [00:02:18] Thank you. Thank you so much, Chris.
Chris Snyder [00:02:20] Absolutely. Absolutely. Well I'm pumped to talk to you about this today. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing, where you grew up and how you got to where you are today.
Rob Reiner [00:02:31] Yeah. So I grew up in Houston, Texas. So it was a small town in Cyprus. It's actually a pretty big town now. It's grown tremendously. But I went to a high school of like ten thousand kids, very sort of a factory, public school type education.
Chris Snyder [00:02:44] Wow. That is a big school, 10000 kids. So you had probably at least thirty-five hundred in your graduating class.
Rob Reiner [00:02:51] Yeah. Yeah. It took forever. So the graduation was like six hours. Just an assembly line. Right. Just getting people through. Got it. Got it. Got it out. So essentially I grew up in Houston. I went I was always interested in technology or in some kind of creation side of things. So architecture, anything like that. My dad at the time, he wanted to be an architect when he was in college. So he told me, hey, look, the one thing is the market. If it changes, your career changes. So if you don't want to be reliant on the market, do computer science. So that's essentially the career path that I took in that I began as a computer science major at the University of Houston.
Chris Snyder [00:03:29] Got it. So you started as a computer science major. Did you always. Was there a lot of math, science, physics? Weren't like it's you always good at that problem-solving aspect of it?
Rob Reiner [00:03:41] You know, the problem solving, the debate structure. I love debating people. I love researching my hobbies are just crazy. It's just so many new things that I like to learn. So the engineering side, I can build engines, I can take apart a car. I love any engineering aspect to it. But computer science, what was interesting to me because it was so new. Right. The iPhone had just come out, for example. So people were just trying to see what was going to happen with these apps. And that was interesting to me. What I did realize very quickly, though, is it's the same as like when you play a sport, you realize who's gonna go to the NFL. Right. Right off the bat. And computer science is very much like that for me. I was okay at it, but I wasn't one of the top people. I very quickly saw what I could do with my skills. And I realized that, you know, these guys who are coders who these guys go home and they code, they're on video games, you know, for fun. So they're coding nonstop. Those are the pros. So I realize, you know, I'm very good at speaking and organizing teams. So let me figure out if I can get into computer science. But in a way that's you know, I'm managing a team because these guys are also very, you know, almost like worker rants. You tell them what to do and then do it exactly like that because they want to get back to their own projects. Right.
Chris Snyder [00:04:50] And I got to tell you, you know, based on my experience, if you don't know how if you're not a coder, you don't know how to manage coders. No, exactly. Tell me a couple. Tell me a couple of horror stories about that. Or maybe I can just let you know a little bit about what shoes you should be in if you're gonna hire a dev team. Yeah.
Rob Reiner [00:05:10] You have to because I mean, one, you got to know how long things are gonna take to you need to know all the technologies that exist. Right. Because that's the preparation of, you know, how you're gonna scale three years in advance. Five years in advance. And the technology is always changing. So you have to know why is it changing? Right now, I know with the dev teams that I have, I'm lucky enough to have people who are specialists at all these things and they'll tell me. But I still know what a server is. I still understand how you speak to different systems and you ask the right questions, so you make sure you're on top of your team. Ask the right questions. They won't respect you either, and they're going to just say, OK, well, let's just say it's going to take 10 hours. So we have enough time versus having somebody that says, hey, you know, I don't think that's going to take you that long. You should be able to do this, too. So I'll wait and see what you can do. Right. And you start challenging them based on the fact that you know what they're doing.
Chris Snyder [00:05:58] Got it. Got it. So let me since you are a computer guy, let's ask what are the top three or four technologies or you guys mobile app only web app. What are the top technologies that you see both now and in the future? You can, you know, magic ball see around the corner because this stuff changes all the time.
Rob Reiner [00:06:18] I completely agree. So something that I would definitely, if you're looking at getting into the space, React Native or Flutter, which are your brand new platforms where you can launch on everything right off the bat. So before we would talk about, you know, is this app written natively? Right. Which means that you're writing every app in particular to the code that it deserves. Right now, there's layers on top of that where you can write in one version and deploy on Android, Web and iPhone. So that way you get launched immediately and you can start testing your market. So that's something that I always tell people is, you know, anything that's cross-platform right now. It used to not be the case, by the way. It used to be very much where if you wrote cross-platform, you were going to have it a glitchy buggy app. It was something that was viewed as like a cheap way of developing that has changed dramatically. Now it's almost a standard to be on React native or on Flutter. Most of your apps like UberEats, Lyft. They all run on those systems.
Chris Snyder [00:07:12] So it's good to be on that in the end, if you have if and if you have a vision. Right. And we can talk about the process a little bit. If you have an idea or a vision in mind. Talk to us a little bit about the process. Just the big milestones. How long should this take? Because you hear people are like, oh, I could do that for ten thousand dollars and it should be done in two weeks. And I just kind of shake my head a little bit. Oh, yes. Tell us you show up with the napkin. Right. You're like, I've got this brilliant idea. I'm passionate about it. I want to go hard. I'm a computer science guy, so I know I can get this done. Give us a little bit at that.
Rob Reiner [00:07:51] So the first part that I always tell people, if you're interested in designing apps, you have to learn user experience and user interface. So you have to literally sketch everything yourself because these countries aren't going to know what's in your brain. So you have to learn the design skill. So that's definitely. Anybody can tell you if you're in computer science, you know how to make your own presentations. You know how to make your own animations, your own sketches for what you want the app to look like because you're giving it to a team you don't have to be perfect at. You don't have to be a branding person per se. It takes years to get to that level. And there are artists that are very, very good at what they do. But you have to get close. Right. So that people can start seeing your vision and can get behind you. So step one is definitely do your user experience and your and what you sort of envision the app looking like.
Chris Snyder [00:08:36] And you can use like Invision app or you can use Sketch.
Rob Reiner [00:08:40] Sketch is amazing. Yeah. I mean, that's just probably the easiest one because you're using like PowerPoint type skills. Right. So if you know how to use PowerPoint, you can sketch and they make you auto templates. Put a button. Here, here, here. Label it. Give it to your dev guy and don't give you a version one of some concept. Right. But that way you get moving quickly. That's why having a desk background is very interesting, because remember, in computer science, it's not important that you learn how to code per se. It's important that you learn how things get coded. So, for example, when a button gets pushed, you have to know, OK, what is that action when it's push and what's that action when it's not pushed? Right. So there's so many different actions that are involved in one iPhone screen and you have to be able to tear it all apart and describe - this does this, this does that. This does that. So the design aspect is probably the most important side, because if I give my designs to somebody and I tell them, hey, does this app make sense to you? And they can go through and look at it and exactly what you said, the tech that's available nowadays, I can create even a demo app. Right. I can have it where I push this button. It'll change screens forming. I can almost create a mock app even before I get started. So that's something we do no matter what. So just so you I give a little bit of background as well. I have a development company, a software company that I started. And with that software company, before we start a project, before we even get coders involved, we first create an entire prototype. Well. I mean, you have to it's the best way to get burned.
Chris Snyder [00:10:03] If we're not creating at least low fidelity prototypes, death in Sketch, or in Invision App, you're just a fool. It doesn't in. By the way, I know you're trying to cut corners and I know you're trying to. If you're the audience and you're doing this, obviously Rob's doing it the right way. But if you're trying to say, well, we're agile, we need to move fast. Fuck you. That is not tech. You're gonna go slower, actually. Yeah. Mess stuff up.
Rob Reiner [00:10:29] You know, agile is interesting because I appreciate agile in the way that it was in development, agile development. The scrum method is beautiful. It's very straightforward. But I can't stand when people are about these books they read - Zero to One Hundred, The Four Hour Work Week. All these books just show almost like no care to your product. It's almost like a rush, rush, rush. When the details are everything, that has to look perfect. If not, when you launch, you're going to be so stressed out with all the changes that you're gonna have to make. I mean, that's even with Cropswap. It was like throwing a dart, right? You don't know how right you're going to get. You have to just keep guessing, keep showing people, keep showing people. And when you launch, you're completely wrong. You know, I always - I have never, ever been 100 percent right because people always have a better way of doing things. You know, you're testing it with way more users. So you're always going to have changes. So that's another thing, too, is you can't focus too much on the details where you don't get launched either. Right. So it's an interesting tradeoff of both.
Chris Snyder [00:11:24] Yeah, no, I love what you're saying right now in Agile is I think my point to agile is the word is misinterpreted and misused mostly by non-devs. Right. And it's like agile to, you know, maybe some dipshit branding person might mean we're just going to go not document anything and run around like chickens with their heads cut off and then show you that we're doing a bunch of stuff in. Back to your point. It's kind of like, well, wait a second. Is that thoughtful stuff? Is that meaningful stuff? Did we talk to users about what we said on that page or why we said that? Yeah. So that prototype process to bring it back, is that a month? Is that 30 days? Is that two weeks? How long does that take? You know, it'll take you to Havana crop site.
Rob Reiner [00:12:09] Well, it's ongoing. Right. So you never really finish. But at least our version one with Cropswap...it was interesting with Cropswap. So we had to in the hardest part was inventing how people upload produce. So for example, with kale, you've got different sizes. So how do we compare somebody scale to another kale? Somebody sells in bunches. There's handfuls. There's all these crazy sizes. Right. So we have to make sure we incorporate everything. So it was a lot of back and forth with your clientele, with your market. So with Cropswap, because when we launched it, it was like a community-based concept. We had every gardener. I mean, at our fingertips. So the second I would draw something out, we would send it to like 12 different people and they would come back to us. I don't understand this. Oh, that's amazing. Yeah. And then I click here and then you can go here. So it really is a community feedback. You have to test with your market. But it took, I would say, a good two months before we started coding just because we kept changing the ideas. What was important?
Chris Snyder [00:13:05] Things like that in devs are expensive. You ought to be getting those people involved on ideas that are that they have to now code. You got to use the prototype route.
Rob Reiner [00:13:15] Right. And you gave better quotes because then I show them exactly what needs to be built for a launch. I always hear the term MVP. MVP is a very interesting term because in my opinion, MVP just doesn't exist anymore. And minimum viable product. Right. The most minimum that you can get to launch to market, that was something that was being taught during the Facebook times, right? It was just get launched, get launched. Now it's get launched. But you better have a business plan. You better have a revenue model like within a week, within two weeks. So the MVP is a little bit more than what it used to be. Your version one really has to be something a little bit more concrete. You have to have your users ready to go. You have to have everything already taken care of because that's the market expects that now enough bubbles have them burst, right?
Chris Snyder [00:13:59] Yeah. So you're going to hand this to your dev team, right. Which are React and Flutter. I believe you were mentioning. They probably know java query. They probably everything on the PHP stack. But let me ask you a question completely unplanned. What what is your opinion on no code? There's been a whole movement on no code. It's starting to gain some traction, I feel like. And I haven't talked to any developers about this. I feel like it's probably the wrong subject to have a discussion with my developers about no code. Yeah. What are your thoughts on that?
Rob Reiner [00:14:33] You know, it's interesting. It's new still. So a lot of people aren't you know, I haven't seen any drastic changes. So the most recent one that kind of gave me a shocker was AirBNB shifting from React to Flutter. So they just changed their entire app. And it got me to pivot tremendously to figure out, oh, my God, all my apps on React. Why did they switch to Flutter? Every single concept or a technology that's coming out right now is very distracting. I mean, you saw all the layers right now that are coming up on top of just Java, right? So all the React stuff, all the Flutter stuff, it's a lot of them and different things claimed to do different things better. But to me, it's one of those where if you're really trying to launch something that is, you know, you're going to market, you're going to have investors very, very quickly get them, you know, go with something that's really been tried and proven right. Don't try and invent something, because unless you're in that space of inventing that new technology, I personally wouldn't use them so fast.
Chris Snyder [00:15:29] Follow based on what I've learned over the course of my career. That is, the apps creating markets is really hard. Like, yeah, I mean, being AirBNB is a lot harder than being Lyft. Of course, I mean, right. Being Lime is easier than being, you know, what's the other ride further jump bike or dirt or like you don't you have to convince the market that this is something that they need and they want and that costs sometimes billions of dollars to create that headspace.
Rob Reiner [00:16:02] Yeah. Even now you see Airbnb is in policymaking. Right. So now they're lobbyists for the hotel policies to change and things like that. So, yeah, it's a lot of cash to be used. Another thing I'll touch on and with all these new technologies is also, for example, you can cut corners by using tech that's already been created. A good one is like Map Box, for example, right? Yeah. So you can use things to get you moving quickly that have been tried and proven that are probably a little bit more expensive right off the bat. And you can use Google Maps in the future. But the things that they give you get you deployed so much quicker. So if it's a technology that's going to get you deployed quickly and you have developers that are, you know, that understand the skill set, then go for it. But so far as testing new technologies, right now, we're pretty comfortable where we're at with things. The latest change that we did was we switched from Firebase to Amazon with all our platforms just because they were. It's a lot easier to create, you know, unique user names, things like that that are that live within an individual profile. So we made a few switches on that. And then at the same time, we're always wrong, too. Like we're probably going to have to make the switch from app box because internationally we're getting so much traction now. And internationally, MapBox is just a terrible tool to use because their addresses won't show up as accurately as Google Maps will worldwide. Right. That for the US they smoke Google because it's just such a more beautiful map to use, it's way easier to do. So right now, for example, we still have to pivot based on the reactions that we're getting. So we chose as best as we could, basically.
Chris Snyder [00:17:33] Yeah, well, you also the problem with Google or Bing Maps or MapQuest or any of these guys, they can't make the customized changes that you would like to have them make. Right. So although Google probably has, you know, all the best points of interest, all that sort of stuff, but then you're like, well, wait a second, I just want this little piece of it. It's like, sorry, you can't have that. Map Box is free, right? Quote unquote, free. Got to have the horsepower and the brainpower to make that work. But you're probably the only update their map like a few times a year. Right.
Rob Reiner [00:18:10] Is that, see, it's the addresses and you do eventually get off the freemium model based on how many requests you have. So eventually it does start costing you. Right. But they do things that are pretty interesting. Like so, for example, on our maps, we don't you don't we're not using any of these tools, but you'll see it in other applications. But if you like, zoom out, for example, you will see like 50. And when you zoom in, those Pennzoil disperse automatically, things like that, that will help give a nice user experience of those you have to customize on Google, which takes time versus me just adding that line of animation or code to it and programing that. So it's a lot quicker.
Chris Snyder [00:18:47] Got it. Got it. So let me ask you a question. So the second part is handing the prototype to your devs. But before we get into that second leg, how the heck did you figure out that you wanted to be getting involved in agriculture or Cropswap farmer stuff.
Rob Reiner [00:19:07] Crazy, right? And coming from Texas to where it's just not the case. So it was interesting. So when I went to University of Houston, I realized I didn't want to do computer science. So I pivoted and I shifted to entrepreneurship. I submitted a business plan to Pace University's entrepreneurship platform. I guess platform you could say. I mean, I got a scholarship from that. So I just wanted to be in New York City because I started realizing, OK, you know, if I'm going to build software, I want to do it for FinTech because that's where I'll make the most money. So that was really my drive. It was a very wolf of Wall Street type drive because that's what I thought I wanted. That's what everybody thinks they want whenever they watch the TV. Right, that you want that lifestyle. Getting into that lifestyle, you start realizing it's very different. I took a, I mean, I really thought I was going to build software for stockbrokers, et cetera. But, you know, for example, the first finance class, A Pace University is a very... it's a school you go to if you want to go to Wall Street. So whenever I was there, one of my classes was a finance class. And the first thing that we did was it was basically you compete against a monkey, choosing an orangutan, picking stocks and stocks. And when you do that, it's either 50 percent of the time he's right or 10 percent right. You're right. It's always that. And then I was like, man, it's going to be building software for this. This won't change anything. I'm just building more money for you. It just didn't feel right. So from there, I started realizing that I wanted to build things that were a little more hard, like something more complicated, and that drove me to Los Angeles. I didn't finish at Pace. I had one semester left, but. You know, after enough classes where you can just Google your tests and you see your test format right there. It's a start. You know, I just started realizing, you know, if somebody wouldn't hire me because I didn't have a sheet of paper, then I probably wouldn't work for them anyway. Because, you know, I want to I hire anybody that has the passion that can teach me and show me skills that I don't have. Right.
Chris Snyder [00:20:59] Demonstrable skills. If you can come in here and do this. You're hired. I don't give a shit.
Rob Reiner [00:21:03] Yeah. I always tell people. I always hire. I only hire people for my startups and the companies that I work for when they can do something that I can't. That's most of the time. That's the only time that it'll really impress me or they're teaching me something is really the times that I hire. So I always wanted to do that to do things a little bit differently. But moving to Los Angeles, it always drew me. I think it was enough East Coast winters. You know, it really gets you, you walk into class, you just feel your whole face freeze and you, it's just crazy. I went through Sandy in New York City, so that really, really was was a huge stopper. But coming to the West Side, seeing how people were more, I would say, more interested in new concepts. I started getting really into food and meditation. I did a 10-day meditation called Vipassana, which was really interesting. I started really. We did van life for a whole year. I was lucky enough to have my company working while I was a camped and across State Beach and Ventura. It was amazing. I got to get really in tune with nature. And that's when I really started just figuring out, you know, the question that, you know, questions that we always ask ourselves. Like, why are we here? What do we know? What am I working on? What do I want to focus on? And that's when I started realizing that, hey, you know, I started reading a lot of books that start talking about food. One that always gets me is this one about compost that I ended up reading, which is really random. But I read a book about composting and talked about a guy who did an experiment with chickens. And what he did was he put chickens in to put some chickens and two coops and one could be fed them white rice, which is modified wheat starch, right? In the other coop. He fed them brown rice the coop with the white rice. They all ended up killing themselves. They all tore each other apart. And they all kind of they all perished. All the birds, the ones that were being fed, the Fed, the brown, whole grain, you know, organic rice, they were orderly, producing eggs, everything. And his point was that our food is a very big importance to what is also reflected upon humans. Right. If we React in a certain way, it's pride because we're also malnutrition. We're not eating the right things. We're not in harmony with the things that we eat. So local food was really interesting because I started realizing that, you know, when you see tomatoes at Whole Foods, you see them red, but you don't know that those are picked when they're green and your brain just doesn't put that together. Of course they're picked when they're green because, you know, if you pick them when they're ripe and they're red from Peru or from, you know, Mexico, they'll be bad by the time they come. So the nutrition content of food was something that was really starting to bug me because I started feeling like and we're not getting what's good enough out that we're not getting the best of the best. Right. And that just started bugging me because it just, the more I got involved with that scene, the more you start realizing all these new things exist, these different produce that exist that you've never, ever been exposed to. So it almost felt like, why are we so focused on all these, you know, on money and things when we could be also focused on our five senses, on taste, on nutrition, on different things that also empower our lives. So that was a huge drive-in food. And then, of course, meeting Daniel McCollister, which is the co-founder of Cropswap, was a huge hit for me. He was the one who taught me for the first time ever that you can grow a ton of food in a small space. And I've never seen that visually before. So that was a huge eye-opener.
Chris Snyder [00:24:18] Yeah, no, that's interesting. We actually at my house, we grow basil. We put Basil on just about everything. We have chives and we just started a tomato plant. I have kids 10 and eight. And so to have them watch how this works and then go out with the scissors and put the chives or put the basil on the pizza, put the basil on your on your bread and have some fresh vegetables on your bread, like we could do a much better job because we live in Southern California and which is another point. What what I just started thinking about right now and maybe you could talk about this a little bit. You have people that you basically give the instruction book to and you say, look, if you have a couple hundred square feet of deck space that, you know, gets, you know, 10 hours of sunshine a day, go get milk cartons, put black trash bags in there. Get this kind of soil. And you guys could literally probably supplement and have better food for yourselves. And then also Cropswap. I'll stop by and pick those up and share with your neighbors or whatever. Could you tell me about that a little bit?
Rob Reiner [00:25:26] Yeah. So it's kind of an interesting thing. So ever since launching the new version of Cropswap, which we launched on March 20th, I've been getting a ton of emails and requests for people who are interested in using their land for crops for purposes. Right. So.
Chris Snyder [00:25:40] It's crazy because I never thought that was going to happen, for some things can happen like Hipcamp, right? The Hipcamp lady. She basically went around to all these private landowners and said, hey, if we put an RV here, that we could make this useful and created a great experience. It's exactly the same thing with you. Right.
Rob Reiner [00:25:59] So it's one of those things where we've always been talking about figuring out a way of growers and farmers to actually become, like, really sustainable. So, for example, just like you can make money on your car now, you can make money on your house now, right. With AirBNB, Uber, or whatever, we wanted this ability where I if I have a garden or if I have room or space, I can basically go on the app and say, hey, I have this land. And we could essentially either figure out to send a crew to your house to construct these gardens at our cost, which would be supplied on Cropswap. And then you essentially get free harvest, you know, because we're coming and we're doing everything, or we were gonna have the ability of you being able to create your own. So here in Los Angeles, we're working on funding a few low-income family homes because the idea is essentially this. It's you have one neighbor that grows kale and they're kick-ass at growing kale. You have another neighbor that then maybe focuses on tomatoes, then the one next to them maybe focuses on collard greens. And combined, that's one product that could be one box. Right. So if we can enable all those growers and farmers to create one product, even together, they can sustain an entire community around that. So we're working as quickly as possible to give people the tools to also be able to learn about this space. Right now, the focus is really on the people who already know how to grow food. So your growers and farmers that have some kind of operation, the first two years that we launch Cropswap is really interesting. It's a huge learning curve because when we launched it, it was just a very straightforward let go five miles, offer up a local produce. You post your produce and it sells. Right. As we kept growing, we started realizing, whoa, there's way more users to us. We have our growers, we have farmers, we have businesses, nurseries, charities. There's so many hats that you have to wear. And with that, we started realizing that, you know, there's also these people who wanted to learn how to grow, want to learn how to figure out how to create their own operation, because that's a big learning curve. I mean, it's already hard enough to convince people to eat organic versus conventional. Right. So we're talking about a huge learning curve that people need to hit here. But with that, we had we couldn't just become this InstaCart of local produce. We have classes because we have to teach people exactly how they can create their own because essentially it's exactly what you said. You could have kale nonstop all year here in California where you would never even have to buy it, pick some off yourself and you could probably sustain up to three neighbors. And they should all pay you right through an app. And you could make, you know, even if it just is enough to cover the cost of your garden. You're making something, right?
Chris Snyder [00:28:35] Yeah, and it's not. And it kind of feels like. So I used to brew beer a very long time ago. It sort of feels akin to that, right. You don't brew your own beer so you can go out in and drink for less money because it actually, in some cases cost you more money, takes more time. You have to really be passionate about brewing or growing this stuff. So this doesn't feel like this feels like it's something to do that's good for yourself and potentially brings you a little bit closer to your community. And, hey, maybe you're giving nutrition and some guidance and some connection in so what? So maybe you make a couple hundred extra bucks a month. Who cares?
Rob Reiner [00:29:16] Yep. And you're helping people, right? Because you're you're actually giving people better produce or you're not giving them things that, you know, if you go to Whole Foods. What is it? Caleigh Organics is every company. Right. You're supporting one company with this. You're actually supporting a community. So it's interesting because it's also cheaper, right? Because we have our we have in San Diego, we have a farm that grows avocados and they've just never been able to - they have an avocado farm, but they just sell directly to a farmer's market, you know, almost as a hobby. But they can sell way more. There's just never been that chain of communication. I hear from investors even where they say, hey, Rob, you know, do people really want these products when they already have them? And I'm just kind of like, well, how would they buy them? Like right now if something exists, how do I find my local farmer? All this work that's needed for me to go and farm that find that one person. And what if that one person that I just took all this time to find only sells avocados? How do I find the other? You know, it's all this work that's been needed. That's why it's not a big thing yet. That's not what we have to make it a lot more simple for you to be able to support local. And there's farms that are on one and a half acres that can provide for a whole zip code. For example, to give you an idea, we're working with one farm that we're going to find here in Los Angeles in West Adams, and they have about one point two acres and they're estimated. Estimating about twenty thousand pounds of food per year. So that's a lot. I can't. I know I can't even fathom it, but it's crazy how much food these things can produce. And the costs are atrociously low. You know that. That's something else that we made a mistake on. So one of the biggest mistakes we made on Cropswap was branding ourselves as this ancient, you know, eat like your grandmother did, eat local eat. It's better for you. Things like that. Because it was just not right. It made us look like we were going back in time. It made it look like this old company and it's not. We had a shift that and I took over as a CEO in November. And when I took over, one of the biggest things that I decided to do was to really say what it is. Right now, we've got vertical farms, we've got hydroponic farms. We've got people who grow kale just for vegan bodybuilders. Bodybuilder's, right. That can grow kale with a certain PH where it's just perfect for your body. That's superfood to me. All these. Right. So really what we're doing is we're actually evolving the food system where we're getting even better food than we should have. This is like a future. That's an advanced thing. That's an actual, like, advanced thing. Exactly. It's not. I mean, it's sure we're going back in time in the ways that we're eating pure, but we're using the science to make to grow in small areas. Right. We're using science to grow in India's unique ways that are way more sustainable, that require like so much less water. So not only do you get better produce on Cropswap, but you're also supporting these methods that consume atrociously less. I always get asked by investors "Hey, Rob, is this stuff organic?" And I'm like, dude, this is better than organic. Organic you can still use chemical fertilizers that are natural, right? These guys use worms, you know. These guys are using their own. They breed their own worms. And then they'll manually put their worms in their bed because that's what they want. They want to create the best food for you. So personally, I would rather buy from a neighbor who is obsessed with growing food than buy from just a corporate farmer who just got paid to, you know, hey, go pull these weeds. OK? I don't know what I'm doing, but I'll go pull them. Right. These are people who are obsessed with growing your food. They're very passionate about it. And they can tell you everything about this stuff. That's why crop. So I had to also encompass not just like the InstaCart of local produce, but the entire economy around it. You know, and I'll keep repeating that because it really is. It's a whole community around this stuff where people want to teach. They want to feel like they're close to them. I can give another example. Also, teams for food justice is in New York City. They go around schools and they install vertical gardens. So that way the cafeteria is purchasing locally grown at that school and they're still making money for the school because the cafeteria siphons purchase the products. One of the things that they contacted us about is, hey, Rob, we grow so much because this is such an efficient way of growing that we're trying to figure out how to get students to farmer's markets. We're trying to figure out how to sell the access. And I'm like, dude, growing crops or create crop boxes and sell directly to students and teachers. That's so much better even than Girl Scout cookies, you know? I mean, if students are actually growing the products, seeing how things are grown, the nutrition behind them know they have some sort of respect for the product, too. It's like having a pet, right? You never know what it's like until you actually get.
Chris Snyder [00:33:59] Well, let's talk about that a little. Some packed out a little bit, because I think at my kid's school here in Hermosa, I think they do have these big planter boxes where they grow some things. So are you saying or are you suggesting that these schools have these growing programs already and that they could actually do a better job of that? I mean, of today conditions are in the United States, right? That would actually I mean, there's got to be hundreds of thousands of schools in the United States, of course.
Rob Reiner [00:34:29] And imagine you're showing them something new. So these vertical farms are New York City. So you're talking about these smallest, you know, use of space and you're growing vertically with these indoor farms. So it's a lot of technology and science that gets involved. So the students are learning to grow food in a very scientific and a very innovative way. On top of that, you know, you're making your school revenue because you're you know, you can make more money for these programs, go against sign the boxes or you're also supplying amazing food to your community or your actual cafeteria. So there's a lot to be said about teaching kids, especially like that's something that I always notice is the children really are everything. Right. They're going to dictate the futures that we have. For example, kids of the future. I won't drive cars. They won't be into buying cars because it's a completely different generation that's coming out. They're gonna be driven by cars and canoes or in Ubers. Right.
Chris Snyder [00:35:23] So, such a waste. The time to get in a car and drive it right.
Rob Reiner [00:35:29] Well, I'm hoping what I hope is that the future really separates food from products and we really getting serious about that, because if we don't, then we're gonna get stuck with. OK. We need science again to help cure us from these things when it's already in front of us. Right.
Chris Snyder [00:35:44] Got it. So let's take a. So let's take a step back and go back to how long it takes to actually. You've got a couple months down on the prototype and all that stuff that we just talked about. By the way, you had to learn over the past two years. Of course, hooked that into your initial Invision app or sketch app or product design. Like these are things that have to evolve and learn, which is why you said at the beginning, this is an evolution and it never ends. Yeah, put MVP, which I know we don't. I don't love that word either, by the way. But let's call it something. So let's call it MVP. You spent a couple months on MVP in prototype. Now you're going out to Dev. So how long does it take? How much is something like this cost and how long should it take?
Rob Reiner [00:36:32] OK, so Dev is very interesting. Dev, you really want to find a team that can structure and understand your goals because the way you build is very important. What features are you going to roll out first? And keep in mind that the role of a CEO or the role of an if you're leading the company, you're going to be meeting with investors. So the quicker that you have things to show, the better. So you've got to prioritize features, right. So that's definitely something that you give them, even if you have your whole prototype. They launch in stages. And if you're doing the agile method, then it's every two weeks, right? You're launching sprints or every week you might have an update. But essentially, you have to really prioritize what's the most important function of this app. So that way, when you because you're gonna get coated, but that way you can also be an investor means and you can have even if it's, you know, the test fibers and the prototype version where the coders are still working on it. You can show them progress. And that looks really cool to a lot of people. They need to be able to see this thing versus the prototypes. So that is definitely something. The costs involved in the timing of this is very something that I like to say is usually we go to market and four months, that's usually a goal of four to six months. This is typically a goal. But I mean, that's me putting everything that I've learned behind the app. So for most people, I would usually expect, you know, 10 to 12 months. And also, if it is going to take that long, you have time to plan. So, I mean, I can't tell you how many apps that I get pitched where they started, they launched, and then they're completely destroying everything they built to start over and do something brand new, but they already raise funds. So now they're trying to restart with a brand new evaluation with nothing. And it's just easier to start a brand new company like that. So the the prioritization of of features is very important. The race to get launched really isn't that big of a thing. So long as that you get launched with the features that you need for the market. Right.
Chris Snyder [00:38:28] So you think it's closer, probably closer to a year to get something in market between your prototype phase. You personally, because you have a computer science background, you already have a team. Sounds like you've got some business. You already have a little bit of, you know, foundation underneath you. But if someone were to start from scratch, they would probably take the first six months to even figure out where you've already got it. So, yeah, minimum, your MVP is probably about a year. Is that fair?
Rob Reiner [00:39:00] I would say yes. Yes. But hopefully you can launch sooner with better features. MVP meaning. So the day you get started coding, I would say you make sure whatever you're building, you scale it back to where. When you talk to your development team, they tell you four months, anything longer and the market's going to shift. Things are gonna change. So obviously, there's the planning stage that comes before that. It could be three months, 10 months, whatever, how long it takes you to plan the app. But once you get to that building phase, make sure that your sprint is four months. And I'd love for those to start taking features out because you're just going to waste your money.
Chris Snyder [00:39:37] That's great advice. That's absolutely great advice. And you know what? No excuses from anyone out there. Learn how to use a vision app or learn how to use scarce. If you do not need a developer to build low fidelity prototype and then you do need a developer to then scope that. And if they scope it beyond four months, you've got the wrong team. Right. Or you need to start. You need to start peeling stuff back and you need to get to market in four months. That's what I'm hearing.
Rob Reiner [00:40:07] Yes. Biggest red flag is when you're talking to a developer. And I know this because it kills My Space. 100 percent of My Space is basically people who get screwed over the first time is that most people work with development. Do you get screwed? Yeah.
Chris Snyder [00:40:22] Oh my god - we could make a show on that. We could make a whole show on how we all got screwed over by a dev. Right.
Rob Reiner [00:40:29] Every time. So the biggest red flag is, are they trying to take away features or are they trying to add features? If they're trying to add features, more than likely they're just trying. They're in it for the money. If they're. Take away features, they know that their success revolves around your success. Remember, that's something that I really stuck to and that's why I only right now I focus on my own apps, apps that are my own ideas, because I don't want to get stuck doing a project that doesn't launch in. If you're starting a dev company, that is essentially your first learning curve is if you work for projects for people you've been and you build products for people where they're products that just never see the market or never see the light of day. And I'm just accepting revenue and revenue. When I go to my second client and they ask me, hey, what have you built? And I don't have anything to show for it, that looks really bad. So essentially, you want to have a developer that understands that aspect of it and that knows that they have to grow with you. If not, they lose the contract or they're not going to scale. So be thinking of that, too. And that they have plans to scale with you. Hey, what happens after I launch? Who would you add? How many people on the team, etc.. Just to give you an idea of the Cropsweam that started over from scratch in November. In six months, they were able to launch the version that you see today. With that came an entire team. It's not just your developers, right? So that's why outsourcing sometimes it's a little bit better than in house unless you have the funds to do in-house. But remember, you have your developers, you have your testers, you have your designers, your actual brand design. When I say designers, design is an important thing. Don't waste your money on graphic designers. Waste your money on people who have actually designed an app and built an app because graphic designers are going to create something beautiful and cool. But they don't have the user experience of knowing, hey, this button won't be good there. Because if you click that button there. Android won't let you do it because it violates this law because they have a back button, et cetera. No. You also have to design for Android design for iPhone. There's a lot of different things that you have to design for. So finding a designer that is 100 percent specific to app development is going to be your, I mean, another lifesaver.
Chris Snyder [00:42:34] So, I've talked with a number of firms in some of these firms, depending on where they're based and some of their clients were, they can be super expensive. I'm talking between one hundred thousand seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a nine-month project. That's everything. That's like the whole God damn thing. Right. Tell me, you know, what kinds of pricing for a startup. And I think we all understand seed round startups get between like five hundred thousand and two million. Like in that round. In that range. And they usually last for about 18 months. That's usually the runway. And if they can't get this shit done, improve their hypothesis or their thesis, then they're out. Then if you make it, you go to series A. But in my mind, I'm thinking to myself, OK, we just got five hundred thousand dollars, right. For NewCo, right. This is not your company, but NewCo. In that basically bought us a year, which isn't even fifty thousand dollars, but it's not even fifty thousand dollars a month. Yeah. We live in Los Angeles or New York or Chicago. I got to tell you man, like how do you get this stuff done? How can you possibly get this stuff done.
Rob Reiner [00:43:53] Yeah. No, I will say this. It's been crazy. I mean, to be honest, I give a lot of things to van life because you learn to live with nothing. Right. You learn what's important. So I think everybody needs to take a trip, leave what they're used to doing for a whole year and get really into living with nothing. Right. But to be honest with you, it's really about the importance of your idea, right? Of my startups. We have a company called Thirty Three Group where we will angel invest or we will accelerate startups. If I like the concept and the idea. And it's something that's forward-thinking. It's a shareable economy. It's something that has to do with our vision. We will basically build the entire turnkey app for under a hundred thousand dollars, but we obviously invest in it. Right. So we're investing in things like that. But I've got to be honest. Usually if you're going to spend over one hundred thousand dollars on a version one, you probably went with the wrong dev team personally seeing how things are done now. I would always go outsourcing. If you're going to do an MVP, I would always outsource it just because you don't need to spend the extra cash. Having somebody here in staff in the US building it out, unless you aren't a development person, then you obviously would want to CTO that's in-house, but the rest of the team can be outsourced. Think of coding like a language if you learn English. English in Australia is the same as learning English in the US. Coding is a language. So learning it anywhere also OBE is the same, but it won't get you to market quickly in terms of costs. When it comes to building them for different companies, if we're doing it for revenue and things like that, it's usually upwards of 120 for the whole thing. That's I mean, that's branding around it. That's your testers. That's literally everything we test. We have a company of about 300 employees. So every single app will test among our internal team also. So the testing we take care of, we take care of everything, basically to get you to market immediately. I mean, that's honestly it. And then sometimes you push back on the price. Sometimes I'll invest in these startups myself, because that's all I do with my capital. Honestly, I just like to invest it because it's exciting to me to see how close you can get at actually changing the world that actually, you know, creating an innovative idea. The material aspect of life to me is very shortcoming. So it's more fun to do things that are a little bit more challenging. So that's why I kind of just turned into an investor. I use my extra capital to start investing in all these startups. So I'm consistently I always have my capital tied in startups just because of it.
Chris Snyder [00:46:19] Well, it sounds like in staff as well. You know, I've thought about this the way I grew up was - you get a real job. You climb the corporate ladder. You invest in your four one K. So some jerk on Wall Street can compete with a chimpanzee to win or lose the hey guy. And you wake up one day when you're 65 and hopefully you have, you know, a few shekels left in the bank to sit in your rocking chair, get a Winnebago and start to enjoy your life. I mean, that's pretty much it, right?
Rob Reiner [00:46:53] Is the truth? Even when we were composing everybody, we met. Oh, my God. You guys are so young. What are you guys doing here? Things like that. But it was so cool to hear the stories, right. I mean, in a lot of ways, the story is sort of kind of deter you from a certain lifestyle. The way I was, I grew up my dad. He followed the entire corporate ladder up to becoming the CTO of a publicly-traded company. So he is now in that position, which is he's very lucky to be in. And he worked super hard at his job at me. Seeing that was it was very interesting growing up, seeing that because you're watching a structure where, you know, it's it's just weird to me. I always question everything. That's my mentality is always questioning things because, you know, you're born here in this world. OK? And we don't ask some questions that I think just need to be asked. For example, why do we get sick, right. If we're such perfect beings or regenerative? Why do we get sick? Just simple questions like that. One of the questions that I always asked myself was, and so we're here in life. And my dad is leaving 9:00 to 5:00 every single day instead of spending time with me here and seeing that so much. You know, obviously, I'm not saying my dad didn't spend time with me at all. He did. I would see it through my friends. I just saw the whole culture of that. That was something that I always never wanted to be a part of. Is this whole nine-to-five mentality, because it's just doesn't make sense.
Chris Snyder [00:48:08] Some of my friends. They never see their kids. They leave on Sunday night or Monday morning. They come home on Thursday. And even when they're home, they're working. So. And I've got you know, how much is enough. How much do you really need? I'm not suggesting that you don't need much and you need to live in squalor or. You know, I'm not saying that at my age I ain't living in a van, bro. All right. That's not it. But at the same time, I think that there definitely needs to be. I don't like the word work life balance. I like the word integration because if you're passionate about something in your discipline and you understand how to ask the right questions like you are, what am I eating? How much am I sleeping? How much time am I spending with my family? That was my son. Need help with his football practice or his baseball practices as my daughter needs help with her softball practice like in when you're there for those things. Those are the things that are more important to me than making a couple hundred extra thousand dollars a year.
Rob Reiner [00:49:19] Exactly. And I will say this. The life of an entrepreneur is definitely way worse in the sense that I mean, I work Saturdays and Sundays. Right. I Cropswap isn't the only app that I'm doing. I help with other apps that I invested in that I have to be the tech guy for them. I have to design them, use my experience from launching the apps towards them. So it's a nonstop working lifestyle, really. But the one thing I do appreciate is when I'm working on something that I'm in control of. Right. My own engine, my own passions. I don't have anybody that's essentially a boss of mine or anything like that. But it's one of those things that I will always be passionate about what I'm doing because I'm creating it. It's something that that I believe in. Right. So I did make the mistakes at the beginning to get into those corporate jobs. And very quickly, I just it's almost like you can tell what your future is going to be like. And when you can tell what your future is going to be like, it becomes unexciting anymore. Right. You know, you can predict it. And I see it over my friends. Right.
Chris Snyder [00:50:15] Well, thinking back on it, my career, I should have never been to any of those companies. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to learn. I think all of us need to go on a bit of a learning journey and figure out how this whole game works. Yeah, but I think I've been asked to leave more often than not. And then obviously what I found myself in the entrepreneur chair, that has been the best time of my life. And that's where I've been most productive and most valued.
Rob Reiner [00:50:43] Right. And it's kind of crazy because nothing in my life really changed because you still have it's always ups and downs. Right. No matter what, you're always going to go through ups and downs. It's just one of those things where I want to control what my ups and downs are. I want to be in control of it rather than it being a bonus. Right. Or an extra Christmas paycheck or something like that. I want to be in control of my own bonuses. So that was a - I completely agree with you. That was a big, big thing of mine as well. But I will say it has been an interesting ride, but it's one of those things where the higher you climb, the more interesting the people you meet, you're meeting people that really do change, can change and impact things, you know, not to veer off in a little ways of a conversation. But, you know, you have this whole mentality, right? These people I mean, you see it in your movies now where people are sort of riding against the wealthy. Right. You have Elon Musk that is now selling all his homes because he's trying to give a new look to the billionaires so that people have money. Something that I'm starting to realize, the higher up I'm trying to climb is these people who are in control of so much capital. They don't know how to spend it. So they have these advisors who tell them how to spend it. But if you get close to them and you tell them your ideas and your concepts, they'll throw it out there. There's enough money to be made to be done. It's just not enough people creating innovative ideas out there to really make it happen. So when we talk about these evil, powerful families, it's not like you can go to them, especially the kids of these people. Right, who are so eco friendly, who are surfers, who don't want to live life. Right. You go to these people with a decent idea. They will invest in it.
Chris Snyder [00:52:16] Oh, yeah. So. So I think what I hear you saying is like, OK, great, let's not rail on these guys. If if you really want to do something that changes the world, give them a different place to invest their money, hopefully they're going to invest it. Right. So they're going to give it to Wall Street or they're going to give it to you. I mean, they'll have balanced portfolios. You know, they're going to give it a little private equity. They've got family offices. They're going to give it to, you know, the, you know, rights and commercial real estate. They're invested in everything. So I think. Yeah. Stop bitchen. Figure out something that you're passionate about that actually makes a dent in this world. And go tell them about it. Tell us more about it and you'll get money.
Rob Reiner [00:52:57] I mean, just to give all your viewers a concept or an idea of how to come up with one of these ideas that really impacts the world. I mean, just because I want to see it happen so badly and I can't do enough of these concepts but be thinking about corporations. They taught us one thing. They taught us with all these monopolies to give me an example. Like Whole Foods. I'll use Cropswap as an example. In Australia, there's two grocery store chains, right? They control all the produce in Australia. With Cropswap what we're doing when you talk about a shared economy, a lot of people think, you know, sharing your car, sharing your home. But what you're really sharing is the economy of that group. So Airbnb now shares the economy with all the hotel chains. Uber now shares the economy with all the taxi car companies, rental car companies and now with Swamp. We're gonna be able to share the economy with the big players because we're giving people the tools to compete. That's gonna happen everywhere because corporations just taught us that these whole whale monopoly things don't work. Cryptos coming out, that's gonna decentralize a lot of things. So be looking at that space. We're talking about applications now, like Netflix, for example. Netflix isn't going to exist much longer, in my opinion. I think apps like that are going to are gonna go because there's gonna be new platforms where when I watch Netflix and I spend 12 dollars a month on Netflix, it goes to the views that I watch. So if I spend the entire time watching one series, all that capital goes to that one serious. And it's distributed in that sense. So imagine having a platform where everybody can create videos. If I all of a sudden create something great and it goes viral, I made I just created a studio. Right. Based on everybody's views. And now I can keep creating content. That's the future. We're going to his everything is going to be super decentralized, not one. You know, you don't have to be a Paramount Pictures anymore to make a movie. You don't have to be this huge company to make these things. And the people who released the tools that are going to, you know, empower other users to create their own businesses. That's the future. Because, you know, as it replaces standard human, you know, tours, I guess people are going to get more creative. And I think humans are gonna start shifting into a super creative role where they're gonna be starting their own things, their own. If they're into food, they're going to use crops to sell their own food, if they're into chains, et cetera. So that's what I would recommend, is really focusing on those kinds of ideas, too.
Chris Snyder [00:55:17] Yeah, no, I love it. Let's talk about product-market fit, because where we left off was the idea, the prototype, the development. Now, you made a point earlier, and I know this all too well because our business has helped people with this in the past. Unfortunately, most startups burn through all their money before they get to the product-market fit in selling phase where I save selling. I mean, now you've got this beautiful app that a bunch of people spend a bunch of time on to get all passionate about, but they don't know how to actually create a business out of it or to validate the start pivoting around and doing all the hard work. So, yeah, let's talk about when you realize product-market fit for Cropswap. No, it might have been there prior to your coming on a Cropswap, so maybe it was. That was part of your decision criteria. But November, you started it now. Now you built the app, an amazing job and now there's work to do. And I call that the product-market fit work. Where are you on that work? And describe that a little bit.
Rob Reiner [00:56:24] Yeah. So it's been really hectic. So we launched Cropswap, the first version that we just launched right now in March. It encompassed everything that you could do on the previous app. So we still wanted people to be able to trade. We still wanted people to be able to list their produce, to have the classes, the events. Now we're coming into our revenue generation side. So this is one of the most important things is figuring out the revenue model. Yeah. For the first two years, we thought we could just figure it out and we could just guessing. We burned a quarter-million dollars in two years doing that. Right. So you think that you can just guess and it'll come right? It'll figure it out. The crowds. Crossharbour is an extreme example of that not working. Why didn't it work? Because you can't make money off transactions when it's five oranges, you know, 10 apples. You know, there's just no money to be made. So I can't create a revenue model out of it. And so we had to shift and pivot tremendously. So that was one of the things where your firm would have been amazing to figure out. Right off the bat, as, hey, guys, where are you guys going to provide value for users to be able to pay you? We weren't providing enough value. Think about it. The first version of Cropswap allowed you to list your extra produce or your produce and sell it to users. If I'm an orange, if I have five oranges in front of my front yard and I know I can, I have extra oranges. If I went on the old version of Cropswap and I sold those 100 oranges, they would all be sold and gone. And then the user basically feels okay. I got lucky. I sold my hundred oranges and the users that bought those hundred oranges feel like they got lucky to find them on Cropswap. It's over. And then people got off the app or they would just stop using yapped. Just so you know, before we built rebuilt crops. We had twenty-five thousand users and twenty-nine different countries. Wow. But it was all growers, farmers. It was just the community. And that also was a failure to me because it wasn't my parents.
Chris Snyder [00:58:11] So you had the supply side. Right. But you didn't have the demand side on the consumer and you weren't doing a great job of that supply and demand match. Yes. And then figuring out, OK, if this and then that, if you size the marketplace and you just said, well, it's food. So it's a quadrillion dollar marketplace without its founders do. Right. Like, of course, the biggest fucking marketplace on the planet. It's three trillion dollars, right. Yeah. But. But what. What. Really need to do is figure out, OK. We've got two thousand growers and that's the supply side. And you didn't even need that many to start figuring out unit economics. Then you could have gone to the demand side. The consumer side figured out your ideal customer consumer profile on the demand side, people that want these and then figure out a prototype way to match in the middle and maintain engagement so you can figure out lifetime value and figure out how much you need to acquire these customers for. So that wasn't done in V1, right? It is being done now. Or tell me about how.
Rob Reiner [00:59:18] So in November. So I founded Cropswap with a guy named Daniel McCollister in November. I told Dan that I wanted to rebuild Cropswap, that I had this new concept of how we could launch this app. And it actually worked for consumers. He went off to do he wanted to do political activism, which, you know, as you know, for startups, which I told him did no problem. Let me take over Croswell. Let me make this what I want to make it into. I think it's going to work. The shift that we had to make was first, we deleted the entire previous version. So we didn't use anything from the previous version. We killed all the users. We require people to make completely new accounts on this brand new version. So I was willing to risk that. And I put it front of the capital to do recreate it from scratch whenever that happened. I only felt confident doing that because I felt like I figured out a lot in the market. What I figured out was that a consumer did not know that local growers exist. And at the same time, local growers don't know that consumers even want their products. Another big thing is this. Local growers and farmers are there. They're not very business minded. They don't want to dabble into business. So they would never just promote themselves. They would never pay for an app to help grow their business, because how would I show them that they run their business? So that came with this interesting concept that we're launching in two weeks called crop boxes. So crop boxes give consumers the ability to subscribe to a local operation. The word subscribe take it very lightly, but it's basically it allows you to subscribe to get weekly or monthly boxes of anything. It could be kale. It could be a random plant every month. But essentially, we're creating a trust between a consumer and a local grower. We're creating a chain where the local grower now has to be dependent upon, you know, this growing. And then now we have the consumer that also knows that they're going to receive a product. Right. The word subscriber is very interesting because although you can just buy one box and then unsubscribe, write the word subscribe in itself is almost like brainwashing users into feeling that sustainability like, oh, cool, this is something that's going to, you know, and then that's teaching local growers that it's something that's going to stay there. So something that I always tell people is - imagine if I'm on Cropswap right now and I have all my kale beds and I know I can support 10 neighbors every single month with my kale. That's right. I can go on Cropswap and I can save from this month or this month or from these days to these days, I can support X amount of users. So let's say it's 20 people that they can support. What's interesting is the value that we'll be able to give people is not only will people subscribe now and we'll be able to make revenue for that local grower, but now imagine if those 20 subscriptions get blocked up. Now, for the first time, we're able to tell a local grower, hey, you can scale because you've got 10 people waiting in or wait until you get twelve, twenty, etc.. So now we're giving people value. Another value that we're giving on Cropswap is this. If I open up the app in Beverly Hills on West Hollywood, I'm not going to see anything because there's no growers there. There's not enough space for farmers there. I'll probably see very unique products, but I won't see anything really that I want to buy. So how do we account for that? And interesting out to look at. And I do recommend that your users look at other apps and see how their revenue models function is Weed Maps. Weed Maps shows you all the dispensary locations, much like Cropswap shows you all the gardener and farmer locations. But what else do they show you? Delivery pens. And that's very important on Cropswap. So imagine we have farms in Pomona that are now going to be able to put pens in Beverly Hills and Malibu and West Hollywood all over the place where they service. So now I'm giving you value because now I'm giving you exposure on our virtual maps. We're creating almost like a virtual real estate. Right. So now when users open an app in Beverly Hills or West Hollywood, boom, they see exactly what's deliverable, who services their area. And now we're able to show that. So that was a mistake that we made at the beginning, was thinking that you could just ads, right? That's everybody's pitches. Oh, we're just going to charge ads or the transaction because it's just not enough money to be made on the transaction. If I hold the grower accountable to a certain price and they know that they're gonna be paying a service fee, that's a little bit easier because they already know how much they're gonna be making. Right. So it was a lot of pivoting and shifting. But we feel like with this model, this creates sustainability. This will create that growth in local growers and. It's exciting, too, because we have farms, for example, that I've approached, that I've told me, look, Rob, you know, during I just really don't think we really want to scale. You know, there's people who just like we were speaking, they're comfortable with us with what they have. But something that happen is that during COVID-19, all their farmers' markets closed, all their restaurants closed, and there goes the revenue to zero. Right. So now we have all these farms shifting to this box model selling to consumers. And one of the things I'm talking to a lot of these farmers like, hey, why don't you keep doing what you're doing? Because Soko and by the way, they're all Muslims are booked out. Most of these boxes, I mean, they can't they're oversubscribed, essentially. But I'm telling them is like a lot of them say, like, well, when things were back to normal and we signed to restaurants again on any sign of farmers markets there, there's it's really interesting because I can tell them, you know, do you really want to be so dependent on the market? The farmer's market, for example, no farmer likes to sit at a farmers market tent selling produce. They want to go out there and grow right there to the restaurant side of it. That's great revenue. But when things like this happen, it shuts you down. If they had consumers on crop side and they were subscribed to their crop access, it would have been business as usual. Even if a situation like Koven 19 would have happened, they would have known how much they had to grow for their subscribers, even through a situation right now, they could be upping their subscriptions. So I also am telling farmers that they need to start this program on crop source with their local market just so they create their own sustainable channel with the local community that they're in control of. That's something that other companies have tried to do. You have imperfect produce and you have good eggs, right? You may unfortunately use your own transit vans or, um, delivery system. They don't give the trust to the local grower. And we're over here saying, look, I'm going to give you all the tools when you have your deliveries, you're gonna see a list of all your deliveries. You start it will go to the map. You make your own deliveries. You're in control of everything. Give you all the tools that you can compete. So we're hoping that with all these tools at the beginning, I think it's going to be oversubscribed. We have Farm One in New York City who is about to do a box where you get random chefs, produce items that you've never tasted, edible flowers, mulberries that make your mouth numb. You'll be able to subscribe to them on a monthly basis. And they're only going to have a limited amount of subscriptions because they still have to do business as usual with restaurants. So we also expect some exclusivity to happen for being subscribed to these places. So what's another value we can give people, maybe recipes with the products? Yeah, I was thinking about the classes, things like that. So there's other value things that we can add in now that we created the first value proposition. Right. The first thing that we can actually give users.
Chris Snyder [01:06:26] Yeah. I mean, you're building a marketplace. You're aggregating all the supply from all these growers. So I have a couple of questions. How do you guys start about some of these Hyorin restaurants, these farm to table? You know, their value prop is farm to table. That's taken off a lot over the last maybe five years. I would say that they've got an I cook a lot myself at home, but so you've got farm to table, which I think would be an excellent target audience for you guys, because you can charge what you need to charge and you can normalize that predictable demand from a set of folks that met their menus change all the time. They would love this. You don't have to train them or give them sophisticated, you know, nutritional items, recipes. So that's one thing I wanted to ask you about that group. And then the second question would be, what do you do about food quality? Because it's, look, we're not talking about GMO in products that have been treated to maintain their physical appearance. They're flip like, yeah, that's what you get at the store. And I get that. But so food quality is the second question. Yeah.
Rob Reiner [01:07:40] So the first question, the restaurants we have seen, the demand is crazy for that. And they've even told us like if you know that we can have kale on these weeks, we'll buy it all and then we'll take it off our menu.
Chris Snyder [01:07:52] Now, I feel like that's almost your primary customer. I feel like those guys would literally eat it up, no pun intended.
Rob Reiner [01:07:58] Yeah, no, it is. So we're going to create a reverse version of a crop box where restaurants or business locations can put what they're looking for. Yes. That way, local growers around there can figure out to conserve as can basically block out all of that. It's interesting, too, because we also have our bigger farms, like, for example, those blueberries that you get at Whole Foods. That company is a great company. It's I forgot what it's called. Off the top of my head. But anyways, we've spoken to them. When they have extra blueberries, they don't have enough to sell to a big corporate supply chain. So now one to sell those to their local market, because it's not it's you know, it's 50 pounds, 50 pounds. Is it enough to move on a truck? It's enough to sell to your local market. So they want to try doing that. But in terms of the restaurants, it's been really interesting. To see how excited they are about incorporating these things, the food quality thing is very much like review system. So we really, really are harsh about that. Whenever you make a delivery or whenever your delivery has been delivered, you have to take a photo of it or you have to judge the product just like Amazon. Right. With the customer verified. Got it. Yeah. We're gonna have that.
Chris Snyder [01:09:03] So it's the farmer has to do that. Right. Like if I may drop this off at this time.
Rob Reiner [01:09:09] And then if you pick up something and you have an issue with what was picked up, for example, they left it out in the sun and it got ruined. You take a photo of it and then, yeah, we handle that process. But it's very much like Uber eats in the same thing. Most of this protest, to be honest, comes a little bit dirtier than your regular stuff at Whole Foods but, you know, it's kind of nice to see it. It's I call this actually just got picked. I can tell it's like a caterpillar on it, right?
Chris Snyder [01:09:35] Yeah. No, you know what I mean. Look. Not this isn't gonna be for everybody. I think we know that. But at the end of the day, I think now is the time, you know, with this shutdown. I was reading a Web site. It actually might have been someone from Sequoia, might have been Andrew Chan. I don't know if you know him, but he writes a lot of stuff on growth. But he said the number one item, the cell and e-commerce like over the last 60 days. Guess what it was? It was fucking bread makers, bread makers. That's not even creating. So you now have folks that are so busy and caught up with their lives that they're constantly running around all. We'll just at McDonald's or we'll just. Yep. Why did the whole country run out of flour? Why did the whole country run out of pasta? Why did the whole country run out of things that probably haven't been used in household since the 50s? Right now, a majority of households, certainly not my house, but now all of a sudden we've got, you know, the children starting to bake. Like, I might jump in a little bit. Right. There's people now realizing there's another part to life that isn't just about fast food, convenience, and commodity pricing.
Rob Reiner [01:10:48] Yeah. And I mean, you're - I'll be honest with you, the first time you taste like celery, for example. Have you ever tried celery grown? Right. It tastes completely different. I mean, night and day to what you get into the grocery store - it has a very peppery tasted. It's a very strong flavor. So you buy it out of Whole Foods. You've never even experienced it. I mean, there's a difference in between the Ralf's and the Whole Foods kind, but the one that you're gonna get from your local growers, completely different experience. So I actually think, like what my main goal is, is to give people this InstaCart experience so you would have your older community, especially. Right. Who's super into health, who's very into hey, my doctor told me to cut down and they've been paying us like crazy. I want to deliver. I wanted delivery. That's something that I think moving forward past COVID-19. I don't think grocery stores are going to be the same. I think people are going to like the convenience of things getting delivered. And I almost look at it like a slot machine. Like you're almost excited about seeing what comes in that box because every week is different. So to give you an example in Los Angeles, and I'm for sure, since you're in L.A., I'll get you this one bit and we'll get one delivered to you. But Fricker Farms and Cottonwood Farms are going to partner up and they do boxes together. So if you're in East L.A., it'll be Conway. If you're in West Side, it'll be Factory Farms. But every single month, you get, you know, your regular lettuces, your celery, your potatoes, your carrots, the regular, the usual. Right. But you also get something new that's in harvest. So, for example, lavender, mulberries that are in season right now. Next week, it'll be peaches. So you're always getting also something new, something that's in season that's local that was picked could be citrus oranges. So if you're also eating with the seasons, so it's going to be really interesting to see how people's boxes change as the season changes as well.
Chris Snyder [01:12:30] Yeah, I love it. This is so this is really exciting. And I'm just glad, you know, yesterday I had not yesterday. That was Sunday on Friday. I had someone on who does branding and stuff like that, but only for sustainable companies. Amazing. Her thing was just I only want to work with companies that are sustainable. And this is one of those things. So one thing I usually like to let the listeners what I like to give the listeners at the end is you've you're in a position where you're you're in the founder, CEO, executive chair. You obviously see a lot. You've probably been through a lot given COVID. And then plus you've got a whole bunch of other clients from different companies that you've run and stuff like that. You know, one of the guys asked this question. He said, well, one thing that I want everybody to do is just embrace mistakes, because the more mistakes he makes, according to him and I agree with us, the more mistakes he makes, the more he learns and the better, you know, the more he grows. What what is it that you can leave us with that might inspire or give someone something about how you operate? That moves you forward.
Rob Reiner [01:13:43] Yes. So one is don't put an age to your goals because I made that mistake consistently. So definitely don't put an age on your goals because you're not going to be right no matter what. You're gonna be wrong on that one. The second most important one for me, honestly, is the fact that the ride never ends, that you're gonna go. The higher the highs get, the worse, the worse it gets. It's always that balance. It's always the balancing of equations. Right. So that's something that entrepreneurs don't get used to. The literally. You're going to have your best day and in one week, expect your worst day. That's probably the best advice that I've actually used on a daily basis, is I'm always expecting something bad to happen. I'm always expecting something amazing happen and always try and stay Zen through all of it because it's going to happen. And that's just how the way life works. And I wish I didn't get so caught up in, you know, it's going to get better. It's going to get to the point where I can just hang out and just relax, because that never comes. It's always going to be a race. So get used to it essentially.
Chris Snyder [01:14:42] Yeah, I've been my business partner and I've been running companies since 2008, probably 2005 until now. And I can tell you, you always expect it's supposed to get easier. It's supposed to get easier. But every night I go to bed, I'm just expecting for something tomorrow to get it's going to get harder. It's gonna get harder. I'm waiting for it not to be so hard. Someday, maybe. But I call it that. That hit across the head by the two by four. Just you're hanging out, you're walking and then all of a sudden whack. And you're just like, where the fuck did that come from all the time?
Rob Reiner [01:15:20] But it's interesting. But yeah, that's something that I always kind of just figured is you're gonna go through the bars and they do get worse and it's insulting. You get stronger, too. So they're not as bad. Right. They would be bad to an entrepreneur that just started out. But you're like, oh, no, I've gone through that so many times. I know exactly how to pivot and deal with it. So it does get worse and it does get better. But that's the understanding to me that I always see from these books as they always feel like it's like a dream. And you get to this place of just Zen. And at least with my personality type, I'm always somebody that even after Cropswap, I'm going to go on and do the next thing. What's harder? What can we impact? That's crazier. So it's also always gonna be a challenge of always staying entertained with life. Right. Picking the hardest thing to do in and hopefully, you know, not getting bored of doing it because that to me is the worst. If you get bored of doing anything, you're not going to put passion behind it. You're gonna just, you know, leave it to the side. So for me, that that was one of the biggest is definitely being passionate about it. And always I mean, it's gonna get worse and it's gonna get better.
Chris Snyder [01:16:19] Yeah, it might sound a little cliche, but it's definitely the journey. It is not the destination. You have to want to run. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, even though it hurts. It's you have to be the kind of person that understands that this is not a pain for you. This is what you chose to do. No one's forcing you to do this right now.
Rob Reiner [01:16:39] And you're always growing right. If you're knocking at the door, eventually someone's going to open. If you have that mindset, it's going to happen. Right. That's at least how I believe the human experience works, whatever we think we create. So if we're always obsessed with this idea and we're thinking about it on a nonstop level, it happens. I mean, even with the COVID-19 stuff, sometimes it blows my mind because if COVID-19 hadn't happened, people wouldn't be this aware about the local products. People wouldn't even know these local products exist. So thank you to COVID-19 in some ways because now people are aware that local produce exists, that they can actually depend on their local growers. So it took something as negative as this to happen, to also have a proactive thing that came from it. So it really is a very strategic thing being an entrepreneur and kind of, you know, seeing what's the pro what's a nonprofit and kind of moving and adapting. But it's fun. I love it.
Chris Snyder [01:17:26] Yeah, well, I'm glad you're here in L.A. because when this whole thing lifts, we're going to have to get together. I feel like you and I could probably do this all day and all night long. Seriously, we definitely will. It's going to be fun. And this is gonna be great, believe me. So, everyone, Rob Reiner is the CEO and founder of Cropswap, a game-changing format phone app that connects consumers, farmers, and growers in their communities to purchase fresh produce. So thank you, Rob. I'm going to collect a bunch of your URLs and stuff from you over the coming days. We can get this all posted in the show notes for our guests so they can go to your Web site, learn more. You mentioned books. There's a whole bunch of stuff. A lot of great nuggets that you dropped. So I really appreciate your time today.
Rob Reiner [01:18:08] Beautiful. Thank you so much, seriously, for being so articulate and the questions - It was an awesome experience.
Chris Snyder [01:18:14] All right, Rob. Take care. We'll see you around.