Founder Spotlight: Hannah Freeman, Ganaz CEO
Why did you start Ganaz?
My whole career has been driven by the belief that you can build a virtuous cycle between workers, employers and downstream retailers and consumers. I was at Fair Trade USA for many years building that belief into a thriving market for Fair Trade produce. And while I was there, I watched farmworkers adopt cell phones and then smart phones. The industry was trying to solve huge problems including a painful labor shortage, food safety, and compliance with complicated labor laws. White collar industries had their pick of incredible people platforms like Gusto. But in agriculture, there wasn’t a single software platform that had figured out how to serve this industry well–to help it run more efficiently and take better care of its workers. I figured we could build that and build it better than anyone else because we intimately understood each part of the supply chain and really cared about each of them.
Why did you decide to work with Founders’ Co-op?
We had the great fortune of getting into Techstars in 2018, and Chris Devore was the Managing Director at the time. I had the opportunity to get to know Chris and Aviel during Techstars and came to trust them and really appreciate how they challenged us. It’s rare you have the opportunity to spend four intense months getting to know an investor, so when he offered to lead the round, it was a no-brainer. Chris is one of the wisest and most emotionally intelligent investors I’ve ever met. I’ve been incredibly lucky to lean on him and learn from him for the past few years.
Words of Wisdom
Be clear and insanely dedicated to the impact you want to have on the world. Be flexible about how to achieve that impact. Originally, our idea was to be a labor marketplace like Glassdoor for farmworkers. It didn’t work, but I knew there were other ways to have a huge impact on this population, so we pivoted. But in retrospect, we could have pivoted more quickly and more decisively.
Why are you building Ganaz in the Pacific Northwest?
The PNW is home to me, so, selfishly, that’s where I wanted Ganaz to be headquartered–not to mention the great technical talent, huge agriculture industry, and a more accessible and welcoming tech ecosystem. I am an outsider to the tech industry, and yet I found a community in Seattle that welcomed me, encouraged me, and helped me network my way into the connections we needed to get Ganaz off the ground.