From Wall Street stockbroker to vegetable importer to Internet entrepreneur, Sinan Talgat has trusted where his serendipitous career would lead.
It all started with a mango farm venture in South America. A friend persuaded Talgat to sell the produce in New York. So he solicited interested buyers at Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative in the Bronx, which is the largest produce marketplace in the world. But El Niño hit Ecuador hard, wiping out the mango crop and Talgat's chances.
Still, Talgat was intrigued by the produce market. To him, Hunts Point was "like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange." He formed Fortune Fruit Ltd. and imported fresh basil and asparagus. But the stockbroker in him kept wondering: Is there a more efficient way to do this? A way that more closely resembles a securities exchange?
Six months ago, Talgat developed his strategy for Terminalmarkets.com, a fruit and vegetable exchange for the global wholesale produce industry and a culmination of all his past experience. He plans to have the site operating in three months.
A terminal market is any marketplace that handles perishable items including produce, meat, and flowers. It forms the hub in the supply chain that takes the product from the farm to the consumer. Every city has one.
About $18 billion worth of produce currently travels through various terminal markets. No one wholesaler controls more than 1% of the market. "The market is completely fragmented and completely inefficient," Talgat says.
New York-based Terminalmarkets.com will serve all the major players in the wholesale produce industry. The site will provide wholesale produce buyers, producers, and truckers with timely and improved price information, reducing all their transaction costs. Wholesalers will sort of act as market makers, and selling will be based on supply and demand.
Buyers will be able to determine all sellers currently carrying the product, request prices from these sellers, compare prices on a single page, examine seller reputations, and complete transactions.
Terminalmarkets.com has already signed up 60% of the wholesalers at Hunts Point, which, as a whole, generates almost $2 billion in annual revenues. Talgat reports that wholesalers in the terminal markets in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and St. Louis have asked to link up with Terminalmarkets.com.
The site will also include an auction site for surplus produce, industry news reports, third-party inspection services, an employment board, and a truck brokerage service. Terminalmarkets.com will generate revenues through transaction fees.