Raguse, a techie who was raised on a farm in Fairmount, North Dakota, said he came up with the idea for the app when he combined his two passions.
“I took a look at farm life and took a look at tech and realized I could use mobile to make life easier for farmers,” he said.
This was around five years ago, while he was a college student at North Dakota State University. At the time, even more so that today, he said, using a mobile app in farming was a very non-traditional idea. Raguse knew it was an area ripe with potential.
He took the idea to Myriad Mobile, the mobile app development company he co-founded with Jake Joraanstad, and partnered with them to complete the app.
They launched in 2012 to wide success and plenty of media coverage. The app allows farmers to view and organize data from a home computer, add data like planting dates and spraying conditions without cell service, and export that data for analysis. All things that “were not easy when its all on desktop,” Raguse said.
Two years after launch he and his team decided to make it free, and the users jumped from hundreds to thousands all over the world.
“Sometimes I’d get e-mails in other languages,” Raguse said.
It was about this time Raguse was introduced to Conservis Corp via Dan Hodgson, a partner at Fargo-based venture capital fund Linn Grove Ventures. Conservis Corp is a Minneapolis based company that makes a software for managing farms – and Virtual Farm Manager had caught their eye. Raguse jumped at the opportunity, and approached Conservis about buying the app.
“I knew Conservis was a much better position in the marketplace,” he said. “And with Myriad growing at the same time, I couldn’t do both.”
Conservis agreed and purchased Virtual Farm Manager for an undisclosed amount. The money went towards Raguse and the team who built the app. Raguse is still wrapping up the final loose ends of the transition, he said.
Virtual Farm Manager is currently being used by over 2,000 farmers worldwide, Raguse said. He looks forward to how it will expand under the leadership of Conservis.
“With the explosion of stuff in agriculture, I’m certain it will do well in the hands of a bigger company,” he said.
Photos courtesy of Conservis Corp and Virtual Farm Manager.