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#99 | Revolutionizing International Agriculture Trade

Michael Thornton, Founder and CEO of World TradeX, is turning his using his experience and passion to create a revolutionary new buy and sell platform focused on agriculture.  

When launched World TradeX will be a global buy and sell platform to support the world food chain. There’s currently nothing like it available to help farmers sell their goods in a one-to-one transaction, eliminating the middleman. They’re envisioning the platform will be the Amazon for food. 

Covering the whole process from farmer to purchaser including logistics, finance, insurance and of course the purchase transaction all in one place.  

Listen as Michael explains how World TradeX takes the best functionality of other apps and technologies (like amazon, uber and even tinder) and integrates it into their system. Farmers will be able to create profile and product cards that will be used as NFTs that can be tracked as the goods move along the process. Also, with NFTs they’re even envisioning buyers will be able to purchase future crops at today’s prices. 

In 2023 World TradeX will go live in California as a beta. Once the kinks are worked out their plan is to expand further in the US then internationally, focusing on two of the world’s largest agricultural producing countries, India and Brazil. 

“Everyone has to eat” says Michael and thinks once it’s up and running that the app will sell itself. Currently farmers go through brokers/agents that take 20-30% of their profit. This new system, with a much smaller flat rate and no need for the middleman, means more money for the farmers selling their products and smaller price tags for the buyers.  

They’ve been working for 7 years to get the idea out in CA through trade shows and networking. When it launches, he believes word of mouth will create excitement and bring in users. 

Once they launch beyond the US, they’ll have language and legal requirements to consider. Attorneys in each country will handle the legal paperwork in the appropriate languages and other translations will be handled as needed either through humans or automatic translations for things that aren’t crucial or critical. 

Michael’s main advice is to “do your research” and know what the market for your goods and services is in the countries you’re looking to export to and what requirements there are to sell there.  

He attended the EXIM conference to learn more about the financial programs available to international agriculture companies and farmers, and to network with other business owners doing global business.  

When asked about his favorite foreign word he replied “Arepa, because it’s fun to say and delicious to eat.” An arepa is like a pancake and is typically eaten at breakfast. Michaels’ favorite type is the Columbian arepa made with yuca flour and cheese. 

Read Episode Transcript

ATTENTION:  Below is a machine generated transcription of the podcast.  Yes, at Rapport International, we talk a lot about how machine translation is not good quality.  Here you see an example of what a machine can do in your own your language.  This transcription is provided as a gist and to give time indicators to find a topic of interest. 


[00:01:07] Wendy: Welcome to the Global Marketing Show, this is a series that is continuing on the XM conference in DC where, all the international trade specialists are gathering. And so I have the opportunity to meet with some. Special ones. And right now I'm meeting with Michael Thornton, who's the founder and CEO of World Trade X. This is such an exciting business that I learned briefly about, so I'm excited to hear more about it.

[00:01:32] So, Michael, welcome!

[00:01:34] Michael: Thank you. 

[00:01:35] Wendy: So tell me like two sentences on your background. You can take a little bit more, but you know, I want to go short into background and then I want to hear about world Tradex and why you founded it. 

[00:01:45] Michael: Well, short background; 20 years, mergers and acquisitions, building and selling companies. It would probably be as short as it could get. 

[00:01:51] Wendy: Okay. Yeah. And now, and why'd you found, world Trade X. And what does it do? 


[00:01:57] Michael: I only do things I'm passionate about, and what it does is, Decentralizes Farming. To put it simply, it is a global commodity trading platform for the world's food supply chain.

[00:02:09] Wendy: That is just brilliant, brilliant.

[00:02:12] Michael: It doesn't exist right now. Yeah. I mean, yes, we are the only ones doing it. 

[00:02:16] Wendy: Okay. So when we were talking mm-hmm. , it's like a Amazon for the world's food supply. And you're talking like produce products or are you talking about nuts and grains 

[00:02:27] Michael: Correct. This is again, farmers, so it's not finished products. This is something where somebody is selling 40,000 pounds of almonds. Somebody is selling proteins, whether it's beef, pork, chicken, fish, corn, you name it. This is where they'll be able to upload their product and have a global exposure.

[00:02:46] Wendy: I, I, I just think that's brilliant cuz I know so many small farmers and my dad was involved in international agriculture.

[00:02:53] I know a woman that wants to start growing a crop in Nigeria, but she doesn't know where to sell it, so she's kind of stuck. So this solves that problem. 

[00:03:01] Michael: This would be the place and it has everything. It's. Supposed to be the same as the ease of Amazon, where you can with, in the same place where you have the buy and sell platform, you have logistics, you have finance, you have insurance, you have escrow.

[00:03:13] Everything is in one spot. And so 

[00:03:17] Wendy: will World Trade X coordinate all those vendors? 

[00:03:21] Michael: It's, it's all in one system. So we've taken basically existing technologies and. . So we have, for example, for the logistics side, you have like priceline.com. We've done the same thing. Everything from rail, air C truck where everything is integrated into that.

[00:03:38] So when you get to the shipping portion and you pick whether it's next day air or priority or C standard shipping, it will automatically integrate and pick those transportation systems for you. And then you just go price. , so, oh my God. And it's the same thing. So also for, we've taken the same technologies from Uber where as your product is purchased and moving, it's in real live time being tracked and Yeah.

[00:04:05] I mean we've, 

[00:04:06] Wendy: so you can, so your whole, you're tracking your supply chain, you know when it's gonna hit the production house. Mm-hmm. , or, and then how are you handling all the, you know, stops at borders and border checks? 

[00:04:18] Michael: Right. That's part of the logistics. So one, one of the things we're we have an office out of DC so we're working with the Federal Trade Commission so that we can actually have a lot of the import export forms digitized in on our system.

[00:04:31] So rather than having to go through some of the paper forms that are standard, everything is 

[00:04:35] Wendy: electronic. It's all set up. Yeah. And their standard agricultural products. So you just, they'd fall into clean categories. Yeah, it's, it's brilliant and 

[00:04:45] it 

[00:04:45] Michael: gets a little. More technical. We've also taken some of the technologies for Tinder, for example.

[00:04:52] And whenever I bring that one up, everybody, when I say You're familiar Tinder, and of course everybody's, no. What's Tinder ? So basically the, the card, the card stack that you have on Tinder where somebody has a profile card, Uhhuh , that really is a basis for how our system works, where we have card stacks.

[00:05:06] So the farmer himself, this gets into blockchain and encryption technology. So the farmer himself will create his profile with his farm, his history. All the details that creates the origin. And then when something is sold, then it creates that card, then will become an NFT card. And then NFT card actually has intrinsic value based on if you just bought 40,000 pounds of almonds, you now have an NFT card that has, that's worth 40,000 pounds of almonds.

[00:05:33] And that card ties into the logistics side. So as something is picked up, it creates a card. So the trucking companies will come, for example pick something up and they will receive that under their device because everybody has smart devices now, whether it's Android or Apple, right? And our system works on both.

[00:05:53] So basically that card will then be swiped and you, you actually can physically see it land onto the other device when it's being transferred. And as a trucker leaves the, the tracking of that starts. . So, and then also, again, that being an nft, it can, it creates a secondary market. Yeah. So versus the futures market where people are buying and selling paper, this is something to where if you bought, say, the future crop Yeah.

[00:06:20] And you said, okay, you know, I wanna purchase next year's crops from you and you purchase them, you now have that card that is worth next year's crops at today's prices. So that 

[00:06:29] Wendy: also brings in the opportunity for barter. 

[00:06:32] Michael: Correct. It's a secondary market that's created, which we really aren't sure where that one's gonna go yet.

[00:06:35] Yeah. But it is something very exciting and just fantastic to 

[00:06:39] Wendy: be a part of. Oh, it's, it's phenomenal. It's life changing for the small farmers around the world. So where is the company now? Like what stage in development? 

[00:06:49] Michael: Okay, so 2023 we're actually gonna be going live with portions of California just for our.

[00:06:54] California has 59 billion in agriculture, so it's by far the largest producing state in the us. 

[00:07:00] Wendy: It's probably larger than a lot of countries too. 

[00:07:03] Michael: It is actually. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So we'll be beta testing there and then once we've tested the system, it's like opening up Disneyland, you know, you don't wanna just open up the whole park.

[00:07:11] We start out with small world or a certain portion just to, you know, test the system out and let it flow through. And then we'll be opening it up for the rest of the US and. So forth. We also have an office set up in India. So we have, India also will be going online, so we have outta the top five producing countries.

[00:07:29] You have us, India, Brazil, China, and Russia. So right now we're concentrating just on primarily us, India, and Brazil. Mm-hmm. , China, Russia, just due to political climates and whatnot. We're not putting that on the system. 

[00:07:48] Wendy: Right, but that's, you prove it in California, expand to the us and then you go to India and Brazil and by then, you know the world could have changed and China and Russia open up, correct?

[00:07:57] Michael: Correct. Everybody has to eat. Yeah. If there's anything that is bipartisan, it's food. . Yes. 

[00:08:03] Wendy: Yes. That is absolutely true. We may fight about what we're gonna eat, but Correct. But you need to get the, all right. So you've got plans to launch. It's an international thing. It is the global marketing show. How do you plan on marketing and selling this and attracting people to the platform?

[00:08:20] Michael: Well, the nice thing is, is it sells itself. The farmers currently have to go through brokers or agents, and they lose 20 to 30% of their income. Right. So when you have something that says 1% flat, That you can offer your system on and gives you a global exposure, everybody's looking to sign up. So really it's just letting them know that 

[00:08:41] Wendy: we're there.

[00:08:42] And so how do you let them know that you're there if you're talking 

[00:08:45] Michael: to, well, I mean, just for California, I mean this started seven years ago, so our first four years was working with the AD Ag Expo and the Ag Commission and just getting the farmers in California didn't know. And once, once they did it just kind of caught on like wildfire.

[00:09:00] This is, this is the future of food trade. Okay? Once everybody realizes this is the train that everyone's getting on, then they do 

[00:09:08] Wendy: okay. So once they hear about it, they're into, oh, they're, 

[00:09:11] Michael: they're happy to be on it. It saves them money. They get paid more. They get paid faster. And it also, as far as the price 0.1, it saves the farmer money, gives, it gives him more money.

[00:09:22] And then also on the end side it, that savings is also passed on when you don't have a middleman that's creating a 20% gap. 

[00:09:30] Wendy: So the farmers make more and the individuals pay less? Correct. Okay. And then I assume you'll have something like Amazon and Uber and Lyft and all those where you give ratings to the.

[00:09:42] or to the purchaser. 

[00:09:44] Michael: Yeah. All all of that is, is in their 

[00:09:46] Wendy: standard. It's natural. Built in, yeah. Mm-hmm. . So it really is blockchain for agriculture. Correct. . Brilliant. Brilliant. Okay. So you, you launch it, you spread the word. You know, California is mostly English. There's lots of other languages in there, so how are you gonna hang, handle the whole language?

[00:10:03] Well, 

[00:10:04] Michael: Yeah. As far as the, the website itself, it has automatic translations, so auto, you know, depending on what country you're in, you can pick the language and, you know, broccoli's, broccoli and you just say it in a different country. But as far as communications go, there is direct communication between the buyer and the seller.

[00:10:22] Once, once they've made contact with each other. But most of it's. via email. Obviously if somebody wants to do a phone call, they can. But the translation happens there electronically with technology now. 

[00:10:34] Wendy: Okay. So as the, the host of Global Marketing Show and owner of a translation company Yeah.

[00:10:41] And author of the book, the Language of Global Marketing, there is an interesting case study to look at, which is Tripad. Where anything that has to be. Right. So all your legal stuff, all how the platform works. Correct. All that should still be done by a human translator Of course. But leveraging the automatic translation for Yeah.

[00:11:00] You know, broccoli and stuff like that and reviews. Can be, can be automated. But if you go into the book there's, there's an excellent, and I'll give you a free copy of the book, Okay. To take with you after this interview. Thank you. Cuz I appreciate your sharing information, but thinking about that from the start would be real good.

[00:11:18] Michael: Right? Well, the legalities as far as, you know, for using the application and things of that nature, those are done by attorneys in each of the countries. So when someone's signing onto the system, every, you know, the things we never. You know, just scroll the bottom and click yes. That carries heavily all the random standard disclosures that are necessary.

[00:11:39] Right, but, 

[00:11:40] Wendy: and you wanna automate that? 

[00:11:42] Michael: No, no, no. You can't , you cannot. It's, if you ever have tried to communicate with somebody through Google Translate in any length, especially with legal terms, it's. 

[00:11:50] Wendy: Just not gonna work that. Okay. So you have the separation out. Yeah. About, so anything about your company, and then there's the whole opportunity for the communication that you're talking about done through emails.

[00:12:01] Can you anticipate what that communication would do and can you build the platform to standardize it? So you can translate it once and then it would be clearly put across too? 

[00:12:11] Michael: Yeah. I mean, a a a lot is, there's standard communications, but then there's also, as, as they're, they're writing, then it's, it's translated specifically for those email.

[00:12:21] and like anything else, it's a work in progress. Right, right, right, right. With, you know it's version, you know, 1.0 Yeah. 

[00:12:29] Wendy: Well, 1.0 in English and then when you get to 2.0. Yeah, yeah, 

[00:12:32] Michael: yeah. I mean, it's again, we're based in the us, which also gives for the world being that we're a US based company. Yeah. So first and foremost, we're promoting and pushing us agriculture out and.

[00:12:46] it gives the, the world a place to trade, but being US based versus say, let's say a China based system, the confidence that you can have in the system financially and, and insurance, and that, you know you're gonna get what you've ordered and that if for some reason or another the product you ordered wasn't the proper one, the insurance will cover it and you were taken care of versus just kind of left holding.

[00:13:12] Wendy: Okay. So that's part of the whole program too, is, is that you have some sort of insurance for anybody selling 

[00:13:17] Michael: through there. Oh, US trade insurance. So it's, it definitely, which is why we're here at, 

[00:13:21] Wendy: yeah. So that was my next question. What do you hope to get out of the XM conference here 

[00:13:26] Michael: in DC there's, there's a lot of import, export financial programs that are in place for farmers and for buyers, both trade insurance and for finance.

[00:13:36] So that plays a big part in what we're doing. Oh, 

[00:13:39] Wendy: okay. So you're looking to make connections with the different, with XM Bank? Correct. But the other finance people that are here? Correct. Okay. Okay. I will certainly keep that in mind as we go through the interviews. So in the global marketing show, we always like to end with well, Your favorite foreign word, but I'm gonna ask for recommendations and how people can contact you, cuz I'm sure there's gonna be a lot of interest.

[00:14:00] So let's start with the ending with, what's your favorite foreign 

[00:14:03] Michael: word? Favorite foreign word. I'd have to say. 

[00:14:08] Wendy: Yeah. Okay. So tell us what that means and why it's your favorite word. Because it's 

[00:14:12] Michael: delicious, both fun to say, and it tastes absolutely wonderful. It's the best breakfast you'll ever have. So tell us 

[00:14:19] Wendy: about it.

[00:14:21] Michael: Well, okay. Well, you will have different countries argue who's APA is better, but for myself, the one I'm speaking of is the one from co. Huh. And it is the one they're made of. You can get corn or juka, which is a root based flour. That's the one I prefer. So you get a juka root and it has mozzarella cheese on the inside of it, and it's like a soft, chewy, delicious breakfast.

[00:14:45] Oh, . Yeah. So you have, and a, and apa, which is, it has the cheese in the, the juka root flour, and then that with. Want some coffee. , you, you have something wonderful. 

[00:14:55] Wendy: Can you sell 'em on the platform so we can get 'em here in the United States where I live? That's possible. That's possible. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, that's all things agriculture, like Amazon started as a bookstore and now look, it's your, it's your shopping mall, so, correct.

[00:15:09] Yeah. You've got so much potential there. What recommendations do you have for people doing international trade? 

[00:15:17] Michael: Do your research. I mean, depending on the, what you are. , international Trade four. I mean, every different type of product has different sustainability responsibilities and blockchain. I mean, there's just so much.

[00:15:30] I mean, that's, that's a pretty broad 

[00:15:31] Wendy: question. It is a broad question, but do your research as something that comes up often. Yeah. And where can people reach you if they're interested in learning more or financing your, your new business? Well, 

[00:15:42] Michael: World Tradex do. . Okay. It would be probably the go to the website or my direct is michael world tradex.com.

[00:15:51] Wendy: Perfect world Tradex, W R R W O R L D T R A D E X, and then X com. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well thank you so much. This is, thank you for having a pleasure talking to you and you as well.


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