Marketplace Success Story: Carla Bayot, Founder Farmers Market On Wheels
Turning Business Savvy into Support for Local Farmers
When COVID made it almost impossible for local farmers hard hit by the pandemic to sell their produce, Carla Bayot turned her passion for mentoring and building VC funded start-ups into creating her own social venture, Farmers Market on Wheels
Always an avid farmers market shopper, when Carla’s favorite family-owned market shut down a year ago she spoke to the owner, Judy Calvillo and asked if it was possible to get products delivered to her home. Judy said that if Carla could find six other customers she’d be happy to make that happen, so Carla found twenty new customers instead.
After many years working in hardware engineering, product design and manufacturing for companies like Cisco, Apple and Microsoft, Carla wasn’t about to stop there. She hired a group of college interns, built a new website and e-commerce platform in three days, created social media messaging to get the word out and in April, 2020 Farmers Market on Wheels was born.
Next, Carla started talking with other struggling farmers who depended on farmers' markets for up to 70% of their sales. She contracted a range of new vendors and created jobs for displaced farm workers too, training them to become packers, drivers and distributors.
Scaling the Venture with Marketplace Teamwork
Carla became an early member of California Capital’s Online Marketplace for women business owners in Sacramento and Northern California speaking about her new venture at the first Online Showcase for Women Entrepreneurs in June 2020, sharing her vision and strategies for supporting local growers and farm workers.
Connecting with this Marketplace led to many new opportunities for Carla to scale her business. Her FMOW was promoted widely across partner networks, she was coached informally by other Marketplace members, and California Capital introduced Carla to the Opportunity Fund and Renaissance Women’s Business Center in her ongoing quest for funding.
Less than one year old, Farmer’s Market on Wheels has grown to more than 100 weekly customers, helping farmers thrive and supplying the Bay Area with farm-fresh produce. New farmers, small business owners and the specialty items you’d find at farmers markets are added every week and Carla’s fulfilling her dream of turning FMOW into an Instacart for Farmers.
FMOW is self-funded, women-owned and built around the premise of raising everyone up in the community. You can help support local farms and small business merchants by ordering your own FMOW boxes in our Marketplace and on Carla’s website, Farmers Market on Wheels.