The Spectre of Webvan, the promise of the Interface Layer

This month, one of the greatest success stories of the food+tech movement laid off 50% of their workforce and shuttered operations in several major cities.

This change is a blow to the local food movement, to our mutual aspirations to create a more delicious and diverse food system through connecting farmers and buyers together.  

At Provender, we began our journey into creating a better food system with a whiteboard and a simple vision-

No Trucks, no Fridges. 

Democratic tools that empower every farmer.

At Provender, we believe that history in technology disappears too quickly- we can forget things that have failed before us because the nature of technology defaults to optimistic amnesia.  

Farmers however, celebrate experience.  Agrarians have a vastly different default- that of using the past as a tool for shaping the future- be that weather, soil, or crops- farms know the past is important for knowing where to go next.

At Provender we feel all too profoundly the spectre of Webvan.  When we think like farmers, we see that infrastructure- trucks and fridges- is hard.  We believe that the great companies of this decade add value to old systems through Interface Layers, not through infrastructure- and we built a business that creates better food systems by empowering farmers, first and foremost.  

At Provender, we believe that the creation of a robust, diverse and sustainable food system is predicated on empowering farmers to leverage the power of technology to build great businesses.  We believe that no superstructure needs to be built on top of a great farm for it to succeed as a business; instead, we believe that farmers deserve tools that transform them into startups.

Above all, we feel the promise of Interface Layers. We believe this is not only possible, but inevitable, that the future of food+tech is not in trucks and fridges and buying and selling, but by building an interface layer for agriculture.  An API for dirt.  A tool that democratizes the technology we build for inventory, for logistics, for commerce, for community, and gives that tool to the people who need it most- farmers. 

 

Every startup thinks they have it figured out- we're no exception.

That said- if you have felt the spectre of Webvan, and you see the promise of Interface Layers, I'd like to talk.  We're hiring on the East Coast now, West soon.

cai@provender.com