Southern Indiana Supply

Kansas Ag News Headlines
High-Tech Startup, K-State Afilliated HitchPin, Named Ag Innovation Finalist
Kansas Ag Connection - 12/06/2018

Hitch pins connect tractors to machinery and are critical to getting work done on the farm. Technology startup HitchPin is providing a new kind of connection for farmers.

"What we're doing is similar to Airbnb or Uber, only for agricultural products and services," said Trevor McKeeman, CEO and founder of the company.

HitchPin, which is affiliated with the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization, or KSU-IC, is a finalist in the Farm Credit Services of America Ag Innovation Pitch Competition, which took place Wednesday. The competition's six finalists presented during the 2018 Nebraska Power Farming Show. A $20,000 grand prize and a $5,000 People's Choice Award are up for grabs.

The Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization, or KSU-IC, houses HitchPin's headquarters and many of its employees, and has invested in the company.

"HitchPin demonstrates the kind of innovation that supports economic growth and the largest industry in Kansas," said Kent Glasscock, president of KSU-IC. "The company shows that Manhattan is on par with any location in the world in terms of high-tech business opportunities."

McKeeman grew up farming in Dickinson County north of Abilene and graduated from Kansas State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with business degrees. His company's app helps farmers hire a harvest crew or purchase hay. Farmers can also post their own services or products to sell. This approach helps solve persistent problems presented by complex logistics in agriculture.

Right now, according to McKeeman, farmers looking for someone to help cut soybeans have to make numerous phone calls and don't know who is available or where they fall on the list of jobs.

"If you wanted to book a flight or hotel, you wouldn't spend half a day calling every single one to determine availability," McKeeman said. "That's where farming is today. HitchPin helps farmers find what they need fast."

In addition to simplifying logistics, McKeeman hopes HitchPin can help farmers stay in business by generating more revenue through offering services or saving money by hiring services instead of owning expensive equipment. He sees a future in which farmers own and optimize select pieces of equipment.

"Younger farmers are desperately trying to grow," McKeeman said. "Many bought equipment when commodity prices were high. With lower prices now, picking up a few additional jobs will help cash flow that equipment. For established producers, it's also hard to find labor and afford equipment. HitchPin offers efficient, real-time scheduling to solve that problem."

McKeeman said he has found a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Manhattan through connections with Kansas State University and KSU-IC.

"Being affiliated with a top-tier ag and engineering university is a tremendous advantage for talent and innovation," he said. "Some of the brightest minds are working on globally relevant projects here. The capabilities and strong work ethic are incredible."

The HitchPin iOS app went live on Apple's App Store a little over a week ago. Farmers have already bought and sold hay. The app handles all the payments electronically to protect both the buyer and seller. Farmers are paid immediately without invoicing or chasing down checks. The app is free to download, and listing products or services and browsing for services are free.

As the company grows, McKeeman aims to add many more services and products on the app with the overall goal of helping farmers.

"Agriculture is the largest market in the world. It is logistically complex; harvesting blueberries is different than harvesting wheat. We are starting with hay sales and grain harvesting, but have huge demand for other products and services. I'm grateful to have a team with both deep roots in agriculture and cutting-edge tech," he said.

Send this article to a friend

Other Kansas Headlines
LaForage Systems
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved.