Where Are They Now
ProducePay: Revolutionizing Produce Financing
Pablo Borquez was born into a farming family in Mexico. For generations, his family has worked in the industry and Pablo has always had a passion for it. When he was 23 he went to work for a Guimarra, a produce marketer and distributer. Through his work with Guimarra, Pablo gained experience working at farms throughout South America and the Southern United States. One of the trends Pablo noticed at all of these farms was inefficiency in cash management, which had a significant impact on operations. Pablo knew that he wanted to help solve this problem.
A few years later, Pablo went to start his MBA at the Cornell Johnson School of Management. Here he learned more about money markets and how and why the produce market had become so inefficient. As he learned more, Pablo began to seek out industry partners in banking, farming, and software to find the best way to solve the issue. Over six months, as these relationships formed and developed, Pablo created the basic idea for what would become ProducePay. He then built software specific to the needs that had been identified, and the company was born.
ProducePay fixes a broken market. The inefficient financing has plagued the capital-intensive farming industry for decades. Farmers need 70% of their cash during the 2-month harvest period, but they don’t see any returns on their investment for 45-60 days. In order to bridge this cash gap, distributers, who sell produce on behalf of the farmers, take out loans to finance the farmers. But, the distributers have very few assets against which to secure these loans, so a bottleneck is created. ProducePay solves this problem by bringing a financier between the distributer and the farmer. The platform creates a diversified portfolio for banks to invest in, and funds are automatically released to the farmers when the distributer receives the produce. With this new system, farmers are able to operate more efficiently and confidently, distributers remove their biggest bottleneck, and financiers are able to invest in a more diversified and profitable portfolio.
Recently, Pablo traveled to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest (SXSW) to compete in a pitching competition as the winner of the Cornell Johnson Shark Tank in New York City. Pablo went on to win the competition at SXSW, but while he deeply appreciated the recognition that came with the win, his most important takeaways were found elsewhere. What Pablo found so amazing about SXSW was getting to meet and talk with so many other amazing and accomplished entrepreneurs. Often, they would all speak business together and it was very interesting to hear everyone’s opinions on his business. But, throughout this experience Pablo recognized the importance of understanding himself first and sticking with his beliefs, plans, and structure first and foremost. The advice and input he received from others at SXSW was very valuable and he enjoyed seeing where others were in their startups, but he always balanced their input with his own situation. When people give advice, it is always from their perspective and no one knows ProducePay better than Pablo, so he knew he had to consider all input while keeping in mind the differences in understanding. What worked for others might not necessarily work for ProducePay, even if this advice was coming from very accomplished entrepreneurs. It is important to always remember that advice and suggestions from others might not always apply to current situations, and to stay true to the core values of a business, through thick and thin.
Heading up to SXSW, and even more after, ProducePay has had lots of momentum, momentum that has recently climaxed in the recent launch of the platform, as well as multiple awards from Entrepreneurship@Cornell. So far, Pablo says things are going very well and he is excited to see where the company takes him in the coming months.