Real Time Farms, From Former Android Developer, Offers Crowdsourced Local Food Guides for Farmer’s Markets and Restaurants

12/15/10Follow @xconomy

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charges restaurants a monthly fee to post their menus. It currently has around eight restaurants and caterers in Ann Arbor as clients. Ultimately the company is hoping restaurants will use its software not as an extra step, but as the main system for their menu management, Cara says.

The Rosaen’s move from the Bay Area to Ann Arbor follows a reverse pattern for many tech entrepreneurs, who often head west to the Golden State to make it big. They both acknowledge that their family in Ann Arbor was a big draw for the move, but Karl says he’s been “pleasantly surprised by the resources in Ann Arbor.” And the increasing push for urban agriculture and locally grown food in greater Detroit makes the area a great fit for Real Time Farms, he says.

“The people in Ann Arbor are just as smart as people in the Bay Area, there’s just a higher concentration of resources out there,” he says.

The team is hoping to be profitable by the end of next year, and is looking to add hundreds of restaurants to its menu-showcasing platform. They’ve raised a “modest chunk of money,” from family to cover marketing and staffing costs, but are looking to raise up to $200,000 in outside funding. Karl says. But Real Time Farms may not be the best fit for traditional venture investors, as it’s not likely to be the next $100 million company, he says. The startup might make for a better match with socially conscious investment funds, grants, or low-interest loans.

At launch, Real Time Farms left the site open to users everywhere. A bulk of the content has come from Ann Arbor, but the company also seen a strong concentration of submissions in California, Connecticut, North Carolina, and even abroad. But throughout next year, they’ll be making a big marketing push to showcase the local food picture in five new areas: New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boulder, and throughout the rest of Michigan. To fuel its national marketing push, the company is hiring college students as “food warriors”—to amp up content from farms and farmers’ markets throughout the country, much the way restaurant review website Yelp sought key contributors in each city when it expanded nationally.

Like most foodies, the Rosaens have been pacing themselves so far, but they have an appetite to do more—a lot more.

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