For many farmers, it is not possible to market food directly "on the spur of the moment". Even with just a few customers, the organisational effort involved in administration, invoicing, picking and route planning is enormous. Three founders from Münsterland have developed software that takes over all these steps and thus gives the farmer back his independence.
Find out more about the innovation from Münsterland on this page.
The Institute for Business Informatics at the WWU Münster is one of the largest and most renowned business informatics institutes in Germany. Business informatics deals with the design, introduction and evaluation of operational and inter-company information systems.
Many farmers have a problem with direct marketing: the organisational effort is enormous even with just a few customers. Orders, invoices and route planning produce mountains of paper in many places. Many use pen and paper or self-made Excel spreadsheets to accept, manage, invoice and pick orders. This costs time, money and nerves. There is no holistic software for direct agricultural marketing. Yet regional direct marketing offers many advantages for agriculture: Farmers are no longer dependent on the trade and determine their prices themselves. And yet they can hope for high demand: Because regional products are in vogue and are readily bought, eaten and drunk by private individuals and restaurants.
Dr Sebastian Terlunen, a business informatics specialist at the WWU Münster and who himself grew up with agriculture, recognised the problem. As an employee of Prof. Dr Stephan Meisel at the Institute of Business Informatics, he was primarily concerned with route optimisation and tour planning. In a conversation with a farmer friend, he then learned that many farmers plan their routes on paper due to a lack of alternatives.
But the problem actually went deeper than that: he discovered that very few farms are digitalised, and most of the other steps in direct marketing are also done with a piece of paper and a pen. That's why Sebastian Terlunen quickly recruited the business informatics specialists Jan-Hendrik Fischer and Dr Stefan Fleischer to join his team and applied for an EXIST start-up grant from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. With success. On the one hand, the three team members were able to finance their work for a year.
On the other hand, they were accepted into the Accelerator Programme of the Digital Hub Münsterland and were thus able to access a large network of experts and several months of mentoring. Together with five test customers, they developed a new software for direct marketing during this time: FrachtPilot. Prof. Dr. Meisel supported the founding team in the process.
In 2019, the founders launched their software FrachtPilot, a practical cloud solution. The software organises direct agricultural marketing from the first to the last step. From the order to your own webshop. FrachtPilot manages customers, products and stocks. It takes care of picking, creates delivery lists, plans fleets, works out routes and keeps an eye on whether delivery has worked out. He also records the returns, manages the invoices, and in the end he even reports the VAT data to the tax office. For Sebastian Terlunen, this means "putting the yard on autopilot".
FrachtPilot consists of various modules that can be booked separately and can be used via smartphone, tablet or desktop PC. With the help of the software, farmers can save a lot of time and money - the pilot customers alone saw potential savings of up to 25 percent. For many in agriculture, it is also the FrachtPilot that makes it possible to enter direct marketing in the first place. It makes farmers independent again and gives them the chance to market their products themselves.
As a regional joint initiative, Enabling Networks Münsterland supports companies and universities in the Münsterland region in developing innovations, implementing them and finding the right partners for the project. In order to show how innovative and at the same time cooperative Münsterland already is, the project also went in search of innovative cooperation projects from the region. The results are presented on this page. The Enabling Networks Münsterland project is funded by the European Union and the NRW Ministry of Economics as part of the ERDF call "Regio.NRW".