Today, I talk to Tom Cunningham, a fellow with a new platform that will link consumers directly to farmers for purchasing food. Think AirBnB of meat – a platform called Grazr. He is planning to launch right here in Middle Tennessee, but this interview covers food freedom, a bit about rolling out software based business, and more.
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Bio: Tom Cunninham, Grazr
Tom Cunningham was born in Rockford, Ill. His mother stayed at home to raise him and younger sisters Anna and Clare. A week after his 10th birthday, the family moved to California for Mr. Cunningham’s career with FedEx. Mrs. Cunningham taught at UC Davis. At 12 years old, Tom earned his keep as a paper boy. His always supportive parents taught him to be daring.
Inspired by musician Ben Harper, Tom jammed out during high school. His father’s friend liked his music enough to produce it through his new record company, Emerald City Entertainment, after his Dotcom busted. He rocked out on tour through his early 20s with various jobs and cities along the way. He worked on farms, fishing boats, in construction and wineries in between gigs.
Life was exciting, but not what Tom wanted it to be. He wound up back in Woodland, Calif where he met a girl he knew from high school. The two dated and soon married. Tom found love, but not yet his ideal career.
Wendy spurred him to pursue a longtime desire to be a fireman. He became EMT certified and joined the Air Force Reserves as a firefighter. After leaving active duty orders with the Reserves, he was hired by the City of South Lake Tahoe Fire Department while living in Carson City, Nev. He enjoyed the busy mountain towns all risk responses from backcountry rescues to ski slope responses to responding to emergencies on beautiful Lake Tahoe. The family grew to five with daughter, Cadence, and sons, Merit and Gage.
Both Tom and Wendy desired more time together as a family and to raise their children in intimate relationship with the land. He wanted to free his children from rigid school years and the rat race; he wanted to become a farmer and teach his children a different way of life. Wendy’s success as an independent consultant with Arbonne International meant change. Tom was able to retire from the fire service at 30 years old to partner with Wendy in her Arbonne business and stay at home as a present father. They began seeking land.
The couple searched far and wide before settling on Middle Tennessee. They chose Summertown, Tenn. to homestead for its beauty and reasonable proximity to the burgeoning market of Nashville. Wendy instructs the children with homeschool curriculum. Tom teaches them about the great outdoors. The good life was far from simple, but it was meaningful.
Tom learned the struggles of being a farmer raising poultry, hogs, and cattle and saw the obstacles to getting meat to consumers. He wondered how to streamline the process. There had to be a way to “close the loop on the local food chain” and keep the money in the local economy.
Tom floated the idea for months. One day in April 2019, as he conversed with his farming partner and neighbor, Corey, he began to realize this was his calling not merely an idea. Tom met with his men’s group friend, Anthony Laney, to sow a plan: the two founded Grazr. Tom as CEO, Anthony as CTO.
Tom spearheads the architecture and inner workings of a complex solution by weaving farmers, processors and discerning consumers stakeholders together into a streamlined system that serves each stakeholder. Every hurdle overcome and each conversation with an interested stakeholder builds his confidence in the viability and necessity for Grazr.
Make it a great week!
GUYS! Don’t forget about the cookbook, Cook With What You Have by Nicole Sauce and Mama Sauce.
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