Some of the fastest-growing businesses in the world today use a simple strategy: Take advantage of excess capacity. Think of Uber, Airbnb, and others. Why not agriculture?
That was the question Trevor McKeeman asked when he returned to his Kansas farm roots a few years ago. What he saw was a dislocation of production capacity in agriculture. Some farmers had excess capacity, while others struggled to justify the investments required for large equipment.
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McKeeman’s solution is a start-up company he founded called HitchPin. Its app-based technology connects farmers who have excess capacity in products or machinery to other farmers who need it.
“Farmers who want to generate more revenue to cash-flow their expensive equipment can provide services to other farmers who don’t want to invest in the machine right now,” he says. “The days of owning all of your equipment are gone. The future is all about smart asset allocation. I believe HitchPin will help a lot of farmers stay in business.”
HitchPin is a passion due to his family farm background and also because he understands the financial struggles on many farms.
HOW IT WORKS
To use HitchPin, you download the iPhone app from the Apple store. For Android or a PC, go to hitchpin.com (Android app is coming soon). On the app, you can list your services, such as harvesting or hay for sale, and time availability. The app is free, and there’s no cost to list.
On the other side, farmers who need services or feed can search listings in the local area and purchase directly from the app.
McKeeman lists several advantages of HitchPin to farmers on both sides.
- It’s quick. In 60 seconds on the HitchPin app, you can know the services that are available for the time you need them.
- It’s real time. HitchPin can give multiple choices for the service you need; someone may be available today. If your wheat is ready to cut, that’s important.
- It’s reputation-based. Like Uber and Airbnb, previous users can rate sellers and that rating will be visible on their profile. “That feedback loop leads to better performance by all parties,” says McKeeman.
- It’s free marketing. If you’ve got a combine that you’d like to use for custom work, finding customers may be your biggest challenge. HitchPin solves that.
- It’s guaranteed payment. When a buyer commits to purchase, the money is pulled into an escrow account, then it moves automatically to the seller’s account when the job is completed. “You don’t have to track down your neighbor to collect payment,” he says. HitchPin collects a small transaction fee when the funds are transferred.
- It’s simple. In a few minutes, you can list your service or product, when it is available, and where it is located.
HitchPin went live at the end of last year with hay sales to prove the concept and technology. “We are active in a number of states already. Anyone in the U.S. can now list hay or harvest services,” McKeeman says. “We will continue to add features and services going forward.”
He believes, in the next few years, ordering farm services and products on a computer or smartphone will be as common as ordering flights, cars, or hotels. “Farmers are looking for new ways to increase revenue and decrease costs. There is a huge advantage to a technology like HitchPin.
“It is the digital equivalent of a real hitch pin,” McKeeman says. “We connect the horsepower to the work that needs to be done.”