Manawatu Standard

Equip­ment loan web­site eyes growth

- Re­becca Black

Farm gear sit­ting idle could be earn­ing cash, ac­cord­ing to a cou­ple who have won sup­port for their peer-to-peer plat­form startup.

Ne­ces­sity is the mother of in­ven­tion but in Scott Cameron and Alexan­dra Tully’s case it was ne­ces­sity, mum and dad, and a miss­ing ro­tary hoe that set them on the path of in­no­va­tion.

Cameron and Tully had just moved house in Palmer­ston North when they came up with the idea for their farmer-to-farmer shar­ing ser­vice, Gear Hub.

They needed the ro­tary hoe and other bits and pieces to do land­scap­ing, but the hire place was an hour round-trip away and they didn’t know any­one in their new area to bor­row from.

Shar­ing the frus­tra­tions with their ru­ral par­ents, Cameron and Tully learnt they had the same prob­lem. They were find­ing it dif­fi­cult to get con­trac­tors out for small farm jobs and the equip­ment they had was out­dated and in­ad­e­quate.

The pair has this month launched Gear Hub in Manawatu¯ and has plans to ex­pand into Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa. By mid-2020, they hope to cover all of New Zealand.

‘‘We want to grow pretty quick be­cause the farm­ers we’re talk­ing to can see a need for items, but also costs are ris­ing on farms. So be­ing able to do it cheaper and have an in­come through idle ma­chin­ery – there’s a dou­ble benefit,’’ Cameron said.

The project has se­cured sup­port from the Ru­ral In­no­va­tion Lab, which is help­ing with men­tor­ing and spon­sor­ship.

Ru­ral In­no­va­tion Lab chair­man Mat Hocken said out of 50 ap­pli­ca­tions, Gear Hub made the top 10 at which point Tully made a pitch to an in­de­pen­dent se­lec­tion panel.

Gear Hub was one of four projects to se­cure sup­port.

Farm­ers us­ing the on­line ser­vice cre­ate a pro­file and make list­ings for items they have avail­able for hire. Items are free to list.

A book­ing cal­en­dar in the site means it is clear if the item is avail­able and for how long.

Bor­row­ers put in a re­quest, which is ac­cepted by the owner, and then pay­ment is made through the web­site and an in­voice is is­sued. Gear Hub’s fee is 15 per cent of the rental fee.

The owner de­cides the fee for their equip­ment and can ac­cept or deny any re­quests to use it.

‘‘If, for ex­am­ple, it’s a seed drill and they know that they’re putting a crop in, in Oc­to­ber, they can block out the full month of Oc­to­ber,’’ Cameron said.

In­surance had been a po­ten­tial bar­rier, but Cameron said Gear Hub in­cluded an op­tion to add in­surance costs to an item. ‘‘So you can just click and add, pretty much like a rental car.’’

Tully built Gear Hub’s web­site, which was now tak­ing list­ings from farm­ers, and a Face­book page. In time, the cou­ple also hopes to cre­ate an app.

Hocken said he ex­pected Gear Hub to find a grow­ing mar­ket with life­style blocks. ‘‘There’s prob­a­bly an ex­pand­ing niche there.’’

Cameron is a business de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Fon­terra and Tully is a di­eti­cian with her own business, Eat Up, in Palmer­ston North.

 ?? MURRAY WILSON/STUFF ?? Scott Cameron and Alexan­dra Tully are cre­at­ing a plat­form to earn farm­ers cash for un­used equip­ment.
MURRAY WILSON/STUFF Scott Cameron and Alexan­dra Tully are cre­at­ing a plat­form to earn farm­ers cash for un­used equip­ment.

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