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K-State Today

December 5, 2018

High-tech startup and KSU-IC affiliate HitchPin named ag innovation award finalist

Submitted by Sarah Caldwell Hancock

A technology startup receiving assistance from the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization, or KSU-IC, is a finalist for a national innovation award.

HitchPin is a finalist in the Farm Credit Services of America Ag Innovation Pitch Competition, which takes place Wednesday, Dec. 5. The competition's six finalists will present 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 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."

Hitch pins connect tractors to machinery and are critical to getting work done on the farm. The 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.

McKeeman grew up farming in Dickinson County north of Abilene and graduated from K-State 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.

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," McKeeman said. "Some of the brightest minds are working on globally relevant projects here. The capabilities and strong work ethic are incredible."