New Web site lets you buy inputs and sell outputs through local dealers.

While surfing the Web and all of its wonders, a group of entrepreneurs uncovered one great big hole. While some agricultural Web sites allowed farmers to buy inputs, some to sell outputs, and others to gather information, none allowed them to do all those things at one cyberspace location and still buy locally.

So under the leadership of Gary Carlson, Timothy Moulton, and Dale Locken, an independent company set out to build a Web site where farmers could buy their inputs, sell their commodities and get up-to-the-minute news, weather and market information without losing the link to their local dealers and elevators.

They called the site Rooster.com. Cenex Harvest States, Cargill, DuPont and ADM are all minority equity investors in the company, which Forbes recently ranked among the top 200 most promising business-to-business Web sites.

Your dealer connection. Rooster. com offers farmers the ability to purchase seed, chemicals, fertilizer, equipment and other supplies 24 hours a day over the Internet. However, unlike many other e-commerce sites that direct you straight to the manufacturer to sell product, this site keeps the dealer involved in the transaction.

"Everyone at Rooster has come from major chemical or fertilizer companies and understands the importance of the relationship between the local dealer and grower," says Gary Carlson, president and CEO of Rooster.com. "Therefore, our whole objective was to maintain the local dealer's face and focus with the grower and then connect that dealer back to the manufacturer through the distribution channel."

For a fee, Rooster.com will set up a Rooster Storefront for a dealer, a virtual store labeled with the dealer's name and location. You can click on the store where you want to shop and pull down a list of its products and services, along with their prices, which the dealer sets. You can then purchase those products online through the site's transactional engine. Your data are kept secure through strict security and operational safeguards, the company claims.

Carlson says the benefits of buying on Rooster are threefold. "First, farmers have the opportunity to see their choices," Carlson says. "Second, they have convenience. They can see their choices relatively quickly and access them from their home. And third, they have familiarity. By getting familiar with their dealer's storefront, they will have easy access to information that will make it easier for them to do business."

Carlson would not comment on how many dealers have signed on to date. However, he says, "Adoption of the technology will be rapid because local dealers are realizing that e-commerce is a growing opportunity for them. And our objective is to help facilitate that for them."

Not just e-commerce. The site also will connect you to local elevators to sell your grain. You can look at current bid postings for the commodity you want to sell and then arrange the sale from the comfort of your home.

A feature called Quick Bid Search lets you look for bids either by zip code or city and state. My Bid Book lets you compare bids and keep a log of the quotes you collect.

You'll also have access to the latest news, market analysis and national and local weather.

No charge. The company launched the content portion of the site in May. It will add the buying and selling phases later this year in time for the 2001 crop production season.

The company derives its revenue from transaction fees on sales, storefront leasing fees and site advertising. It does not charge growers to use the site. However, in the future, it may offer premium services for a fee.

To register, go to www.Rooster.com or contact Rooster.com, Dept. FIN, 7760 France Ave. S., Suite 1100, Bloomington, MN 55435, 877/865-2531 or circle 211.