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Get to Know Hollie Bunn
Hollie Bunn joined Growers Edge in 2020 and serves as our Chief Lending Officer and Executive Vice President. She has over 30 years of experience in ag financing strategy and innovation, team leadership and Ag business development, along with her own family farming connections. Hollie is enthusiastic about improving the ag lending industry and has proven this with her success at Growers Edge.
WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN THE AG FINANCING INDUSTRY?
When I was younger, my family farm was hit by the farming crisis in the 80s. My family’s struggle made me realize that farmers didn’t have the necessary resources to get back on their feet when uncertainties hit or when they were looking to expand, and I wanted to lead change in the industry.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO JOIN GROWERS EDGE?
The fintech industry has always interested me. Growers Edge presented an opportunity unlike anything else: working at an agtech startup and building something for the agriculture industry from the ground up. I love that we get to see immediate customer feedback in this environment, which allows us to manage ag partnership needs quickly. Working closely with customers and the fast-paced start-up environment had me hooked!
GROWERS EDGE OFFERS FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY OR FINTECH SOLUTIONS. WHAT IS FINTECH, AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM TRADITIONAL BANK-BASED OPTIONS
Fintech is a wide-open field, and it has a variety of meanings. Here at Growers Edge, it means building a digital lending experience for ag partners and their customers. That can be in both embedded financing and financial products. Ag retailers are interested in providing value to their customers. Our digital financing solutions help them increase customer loyalty and brand visibility while helping farmers increase profitability and viability.
AFTER LAUNCHING THE GROWERS EDGE LENDING PLATFORM, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS UNIQUE ABOUT THE COMPANY’S APPROACH?
Many things make our platform an innovative solution for ag partners. Probably the most important is our ability to partner with our clients wholly. We are not here to just deploy capital. We want to be a more efficient partner and get into partnerships that help retailers increase their viability through strengthened customer relationships, innovation and improved speed and efficiency. These platforms were once only available to the largest ag retailers and input manufacturers. With our SaaS+ product and sustainability-focused Crop Plans, we are giving SMBs and rural communities access to the management tools necessary for their success.
GROWERS EDGE HAS A STRONG BACKGROUND IN THE TRADITIONAL AG LENDING INDUSTRY. WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU SEE IN HOW GROWERS EDGE IS APPROACHING THE MARKETPLACE?
The team I lead has over 100 years of combined experience in ag lending, which has been essential in building sustainability-focused financial solutions for the ag industry. On a personal level, I am an owner and operator of my family farm, which gives me an important perspective on farmers’ needs. Lastly, our Board of Directors and investors give Growers Edge solid support, and because of that, we are responsive to changes as they happen. Our board’s involvement in the fintech industry also brings industry-leading innovation to the company.
HOW WILL FARMERS BENEFIT FROM LENDING SOLUTIONS THAT GROWERS EDGE HAS DEVELOPED?
I believe farmers can benefit from this solution because they will have a convenient, responsive source of capital that’s competitively priced, allowing them to adopt new technologies and practices that will help them improve efficiency and increase profits. This, combined with our warranty-backed crop plan, provides them with cutting-edge products with their trusted partner––the ag retailers, manufacturers and banks.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU SEE FOR GROWERS EDGE IN THE UPCOMING YEAR?
This year we have the opportunity to become embedded with ag retailers of just about any size. The variety of partners we will engage with allows us to deliver on our mission. More importantly, it gives us a better perspective on the needs of the ag industry and the opportunity to design and launch new lending solutions even more impactful.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE LENDING TEAM?
My goal is to bring on true partners and learn from them. The sales team knows we have goals to meet each year, but we also understand that nothing is more important than meeting our partners’ needs. What is essential to the overall Growers Edge mission is building close relationships with partners and helping them meet business objectives, so we can continue to improve our product to meet the needs of growers.
I SEE YOU RECENTLY ACHIEVED SOC 2 TYPE 1 COMPLIANCE. WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT TO GROWERS EDGE?
You’re right! Data privacy and security are a significant priority at this company. We started our journey toward compliance over one year ago. We recently completed our Services Organizations Certificate (SOC) 2 Type 1 compliance and are now working on even greater certification levels.
With the rapid increase in fraud carried out against businesses and consumers, we believe the demand for strict information security policies and procedures will proliferate. With the SOC 2 Type 1 Attestation, ag partners who do or are planning to do business with Growers Edge can be confident that our service commitments and system requirements were achieved based on the trust services criteria relevant to security and availability set forth by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. We’re excited to bring an entirely new level of data security to the ag industry.
SOC 2 Type 1 compliance is an absolutely necessary requirement for security-conscious businesses both internally and externally. We will continue to strengthen and refine our procedures as we pursue SOC 2 Type 2 and greater certifications in the future.
WHAT’S ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE SOLUTIONS YOU’RE WORKING ON?
I’ve noticed many innovative financing solutions in the consumer market, such as Buy Now Pay Later. It’s an exciting time in the marketplace! We are exploring some really creative and needed options for the ag industry this year, but I am most excited about our combined sustainable warranty-backed financing and Crop Plan solutions. We know how committed farmers are to adopting regulatory practices, but farmers are sometimes restricted by the hurdles they must overcome to meet the operational standards. Our warranty-backed Crop Plan, combined with our financing, helps farmers adopt modern practices that improve soil and water quality and assist them in transitioning to sustainable farming operations. People are bullish on carbon credits, and right now, I believe our sustainability product is data-driven and produces accurate, quantifiable results.
The Cutting Edge of Agricultural Finance
All industries can benefit from financial technology and innovation. Our mission is to share these advantages with agriculture retailers in a way that benefits them, farmers, and as a result, the world.