In 2015, the twin brothers founded Upstream Farms with the mission of building relationships with customers buying their beef and pork.
They were still just sophomores at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, participating in the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program. Students in the Engler program focus on harnessing our nation’s agricultural strengths to develop their own entrepreneurial ideas.
From its inception, the brothers’ agribusiness has operated in tandem with their family’s farm.
Upstream Farms started out by providing meat at wholesale prices to restaurants, microbreweries and one particularly notable account – the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Department.
Matthew said that building relationships with wholesale customers while still finding time to grow crops, raise livestock and introduce creative new ideas was a challenge, because supplying restaurants meant being on call 24-7.
When the Brugger brothers moved home after college, they decided to transition to a retail business model – selling directly to individual customers online.
“With an e-commerce business we’re able to fill out orders three times a week and then be done with it,” Matthew said. “We can run the business from our little rural community and be successful – and still be farmers.”