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For creating the next-generation meat market.

Small, sustainable ranchers face two big problems when bringing their meat to market: Many chefs want only the premium cuts like steaks and fillets, and it costs too much to deliver small local orders to multiple customers around town. This three-year-old, Kansas City, Missouri–based online meat market efficiently solves both problems by matching local ranchers with chefs.

Farmers use AgLocal’s app to list their available meat. (They also include photographs of their operation and describe their sustainable practices, which the startup confirms with local government and advocacy groups.) Restaurants, schools, and other meat buyers shop on the app and purchase directly from the farmer. There's no need to go through a big distributor, which usually pays farmers wholesale. They also earn more money because they sell every bit of the animal, and buyers get a better price because AgLocal's platform creates an economy of scale. The startup is experimenting with a new CowTipper program in California that allows consumers to buy directly as well.

Founder and CEO Naithan Jones is uniquely positioned to recognize the need for AgLocal. His brother is a chef; his wife's family is involved in ranching. Despite his inexperience in software and lack of Silicon Valley connections, Jones created a digital platform that taps Americans' growing appetite for sustainable food. He has courted not only farmers but also high-wattage investors, such as Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz.

[Photo by Christopher Boffoli]