Made by Members: Roman Hartmann
Roman Hartmann wanted to get to the bottom of where his cooking ingredients come from. This turned out not to be that easy. So he took matters into his own hands and founded Farmy.
Roman Hartmann founded Farmy, the online market for sustainable weekly shopping with over 8,000 products, in 2014 together with Tobias Schubert. At Farmy, every product has a face, and buyers know exactly which producer or farmer the product comes from. The online service delivers throughout Switzerland and is particularly sustainable thanks to a sophisticated system and its own fleet of electric vehicles.
Roman, how did you come up with the idea for Farmy?
Farmy was born out of a private interest: I have always loved cooking and wanted to know where the ingredients come from. When I could, I bought the products directly from the farmer or producer. But that is pretty time-consuming, and there’s little opportunity to squeeze it in during the day. I wanted to create a marketplace where everything is available so that the weekly shopping can be done online.
Farmy supplies fresh products from over 1,200 local producers throughout Switzerland. Do you even shop at the supermarket anymore?
Personally, I don’t really shop offline anymore, except in exceptional cases. My wife goes to the supermarket spontaneously from time to time when we don’t have something at home. For the children it is always a highlight when the Farmy driver arrives.
How does the process work so that fresh products can be delivered daily?
We do not store the products, but really only order what is in the customer orders. The products are delivered fresh and directly from the producers to our hubs in Zurich and Lausanne every day and go out to the customers the same day. This is unique in Switzerland. As a result, the products are fresher and of better quality than you usually find in supermarkets.
What criteria do you use to select your producers in order to be able to guarantee this quality?
The selection of producers very much depends on the category. We approach each category separately and see what producers are available, meet them in person if possible and compare the quality of the products. Many questions need to be answered before we take on a producer. In the end, the winner is whoever offers the best match: as close as possible to our logistics to ensure the footprint is as positive as possible, an authentic producer, ideally with organic certifications, and of course products that taste good.
So what’s good about Farmy is obvious – and always nearby. What other innovations support you in everyday life?
Innovation is part of Farmy’s DNA. We developed all the IT systems ourselves from the very beginning and have built up immense expertise in this area. This allowed us to build a second business, where we now sell IT solutions ourselves to third-party customers. This has enabled Alnatura to offer its range online in Germany and we will continue to drive this topic forward. We are also one step ahead of many competitors in logistics and storage. The whole business model, which we call “cross-stocking”, was also an innovation that did not exist on the market before. We also use robots to pick dry products and are always trying to develop and improve.
What are you proud of?
That we have managed to build a very positive brand, with a clear USP and distinctive feature that sets us apart. We are a strong team and well positioned to continue to redefine the market. It is also very important for me to be able to explain to my children exactly what I am doing without being embarrassed.
Transparency is important to you – what about sustainability?
Sustainability is important to me, Farmy, and our customers – and it is a top priority for us. At Farmy, we deliver using electric vehicles. Logistics routes are also short, as we source most of our products from the region. We have less food waste because we only order what we have already sold and the products are not stored. I personally drive an electric vehicle and only come to work by bike in the summer. As a family, we travel by train a lot, for example to the mountains or to Ticino.