Sadoc, Feliciano and Ivan Paredes spent much of their childhood as migrant workers, working alongside their father, mother and five other siblings, picking crops while traveling around the U.S. before eventually settling in Michigan.
After years of seeing the difficulties an uncertainty that ag workers faced when looking for jobs first-hand, they started AgHelp in 2011.
AgHelp is a mobile platform that connects agricultural workers with employers and support agencies. AgHelp looks to bring efficiency to a very costly and inefficient matchmaking market.
AgHelp was one of five companies selected to participate in this year’s cohort of the Iowa Agritech Accelerator.
“We just finished up the mentor speed dating of the cohort and I think we met with around 60 mentors,” said Sadoc Peredes, co-founder of Ag Help. “Right now we’re trying to kind of match up our needs with the mentors who we’ve met with. We’ve been able to get a good idea of how people see this affecting their industry and how our platform could benefit them ultimately.”
A win for workers, farmers and support agencies
With AgHelp, employers decrease costs and gain labor predictability; workers gain location choice and the ability to compare earning potential; support agencies increase the number of worker clients they serve, increasing the funding they receive.
“Basically the idea is for a worker to be able to search for jobs nationally and also search for support agencies,” said Sadoc. “It’s really just getting all of the jobs and resources to a worker all in one platform, all in one place, and making it as easy as possible for them.”
Over the last year, AgHelp has largely focused on marketing towards support agencies, increasing their awareness and experience with the app.
“The support agencies already have deep roots with the labor force in general. they have a lot of ties to this workforce already, lower income ag workers,” said Sadoc. “So for us, it’s really about facilitating that connection and empowering workers.”
Now that AgHelp is preparing to relaunch on a web platform, they are beginning to shift their focus towards growers and farmers.
Getting to the root of the problem
“There isn’t really anybody taking a holistic approach to the ag labor shortage,” said Sadoc. “I think our unique perspective and personal experience has helped us take a different approach and ultimately address the real problems around the shortage. Really, I think that’s what will make us successful and unique in this approach.”
AgHelp hopes to launch the web platform within the next four months and would like to have a large user base in the U.S. by the end of the year. And then, sometime mid-next year they plan on folding in the ability to recruit H-2A positions for those seasonal, temporary positions for ag workers.