The Uber For Beekeeping?? Un-bee-lievable
Over the last several years, the sharing economy has absolutely exploded.
With companies like Uber and Airbnb leading the way, it is no longer uncommon to find people who make extra cash on the side renting out underused assets or monetizing a hobby.
We thought we had seen every possible version of this…until we found out about HiveLend.
Founded at the University of Michigan by Nick Zajciw in 2015, who leveraged the venture accelerator on his campus called TechArb that provides an out-of-the-classroom program to empower student ventures to bring their ideas to life through an intensive and structured entrepreneurial experience. HiveLend is the “Uber” of the beekeeping world – a platform that connects hobbyist beekeepers to local farmers who need bees to pollinate their fields. With embedded geolocation technology, negotiation support, and a secure payment platform, exchanging bees is easier now than ever before for the average joe.
Putting “Sideline” Beekeepers On The Field
Historically, it has been difficult for non-commercial beekeepers to gain footing in the beehive rental world. Most large-scale farmers tend to go through a pollination broker for their hives and smaller-scale farmers are hard to find. Additionally, a formal pollination agreement is typically drafted and signed by both farmer and broker which can be intimidating to someone who is just starting out.
But with HiveLend, all of these challenges go away.
When hobbyist beekeepers sign up for the platform, they provide information on how many hives they have for rent and how far they are willing to travel. On the other end of the app, farmers list the crops they need to be pollinated and how many acres need to be covered.
The app takes the input, considers the geographic locations of both sides, and then creates matches when the stars align. After a match is made, a communication line opens between the two parties who are then able to exchange messages and hammer out the details of a formal pollination agreement. This document can be drafted and signed on the platform, thereby streaming the negotiation and contracting process. Additionally, HiveLend also integrates with PayPal which enables farmers to safely pay beekeepers over the platform.
HiveLend essentially fills the role of a pollination broker and helps part-time beekeepers and local farmers find each other with ease.
A Partnership Sweeter Than Honey
HiveLend was founded by Nick Zajciw, a Michigan grad who developed an interest in beekeeping as a college student. He was trying to earn some extra pocket change by renting his hives to local farmers but was having a hard time connecting with the right customers.
And then the lightbulb went off.
Zajciw realized the potential to “uberize” beekeeping for people just like him who wanted to rent small numbers of hives.
At the time, Zajciw was joined by Noah Hirschl who helped him create the product at Michigan’s MPowered’s Startup Weekend. The duo then placed 2nd at Michigan’s Start Up competition and won $3,000.
A few years later, Zajciw met Dawn Musil at a 2017 Venture For America Training Camp. Musil had been raising bees since she was a teenager and was immediately drawn to HiveLend. The two joined forces and now run HiveLend out of Baltimore where they aspire to build a community apiary to educate locals on best beekeeping practices.
One Inch Wide, One Mile Deep
This Untold story highlights the value in focusing on a very small niche of customers. Rather than trying to be everything to everybody, hone in on a very specific group that desperately needs what you have to offer. HiveLend’s leadership team did this and proved that hobbyist beekeepers and local farmers all over the country would benefit from the platform.
Take an hour this week to sit down and write out who it is that you are trying to serve with your business or product. Then, see if you can segment that population even further and create a more defined offering for one of the sub-groups. Prove your concept here, then focus on scaling!
And for those of you looking for a new hobby, give beekeeping a try! With HiveLend on the market, you have everything you need to rent your hives when it’s time to pollinate.