A farmer close to Manhattan has a combine that’s sitting empty some of the time.
Another farmer near Sublette needs someone to custom fertilize.
Someone in Pretty Prairie has hay for sale.
Usually, these farmers would advertise in the newspaper, mention their needs to friends in the local coffee shop, or throw up a sign or bale of hay on their property. Now, they can use HitchPin, a specially designed agriculture app.
Tracy and Toby Hendricks, of Alta Vista in Wabaunsee County, who own a farm as well as Hendricks Horseshoeing, had some equipment lying around and wanted to earn extra money. They heard about HitchPin, tried it, and found a customer who needed help with swathing and baling.
“It’s a lot easier than trying to call people,” Tracy Hendricks said. “I can just go on there and tell them the dates we’re available and get them done.”
HitchPin's inventor, founder and CEO Trevor McKeeman, who was raised on a farm in Manhattan, went live with the app last December. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and a master's degree in of business administration from MIT.
“A farmer may have an $800,000 combine that they use four weeks a year,” McKeeman said. “If we can help producers pick up an extra job, it would be great.”
Along with making listings free, HitchPin offers a charge service. McKeeman said it is similar to other national businesses that serve as the intermediary. Once a transaction is completed, the person is paid. Until then, the money is held in escrow.
“If someone has success, we make money,” McKeeman said. “Growing up, my dad would sell hay and not get paid for four months. With this app, they don’t have to send invoices or chase their neighbors down. If we can get people paid faster, that’s going to help the farmer.”
McKeeman also wants to show the world that great inventions can begin in the heartland.
“People in the Midwest can do anything that anybody else can do in the world,” McKeeman said. “It’s great to see someone using the product that you spent so much time making.”
Right now, HitchPin is serving producers in Kansas and a few outside of the state, but eventually, McKeeman wants to make his business international. He currently rents offices at K-State and has several investors who believe in this product.
“I haven’t used it, but I think the concept is good,” said Jeremy Ryan, a farmer and agriculture instructor at Fort Hays State University. “We can just jump on there and find our resources. It can broaden our horizons.”
Ryan compared this app to online auction sites. By using these agricultural sites, the farmer no longer needs to drive to an auction on the other side of the state. Similarly, by using this app, the producer finds buyers for their hay or sells services to other farmers.
Nathan Kells, who along with his brother owns Circle Bar Heifer Ranch in Satanta in Haskell County, used HitchPin to custom harvest. He also sold hay on the app and is getting ready to hire someone to help him custom fertilize.
“The technology amazes me,” Kells said. “It is slowly growing.”
He said it takes time to register on the site, but once you do, it’s a snap.
“It’s really fairly simple to do,” Kells said. “Once you get over the hurdle of doing it the first time, you will start using it more and more.”
Since graduating, McKeeman has launched two other startup businesses. By doing any startup, McKeeman is taking a risk. But the father of two young children sees results with HitchPin. Spending way more than 40 hours a week in the office, McKeeman is helping farmers like his father succeed by selling services and goods on a secure site.
“To be ahead of the curve is fun for me,” McKeeman said. “You just have to take the risk and make it happen. I’m hoping that we can help farmers stay in business.”