Farming Robots for Cannabis
Hitch is developing autonomous farming robots for the cannabis industry.
Its first robot, the Transport Hitch, is a self-driving device capable of transporting cannabis, hemp, and produce. By using this device, farmers can reduce their labor burden and increase productivity by more than 30%.
Since 2018, Hitch has signed two Letters of Intent with farms expected to purchase 500 of the company’s robots. This presents a potential revenue stream of more than $30 million. In addition, the company has received an investment from Wavemaker Partners, a global VC fund with more than 30 successful “exits” in its portfolio.
Hitch is raising funds to fulfill its initial orders and begin development on a line of future robots.
Cannabis is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. According to Arcview Research, sales in North America are projected to top $20 billion by 2021. That’s up from $6.7 billion in 2016.
By 2025, Grand View Research projects the legal marijuana market will reach $66 billion in the U.S., and $500 billion globally.
This market is growing so fast, most farmers can’t keep up with demand. In 2019, labor issues are expected to result in only 50% of U.S. hemp crops being harvested.
At the same time, American farmers compete with international farms that export high-quality product at lower prices. Furthermore, the supply of farm labor in the U.S. has dropped significantly in recent years — so much so, the economy loses more than $3 billion a year in crop production.
Hitch’s robots help farmers spend less time transporting crops and more time harvesting, thereby increasing production. Increasing labor productivity by 30% would yield $1.7 billion in revenue to California farmers alone.
The company’s first product is a self-driving robot used to transport crops from fields to farming processing centers. This off-road robot uses computer vision, machine learning, object recognition, and a high-precision GPS to navigate through farms and easily haul payload.
Farmers don’t pay anything up front to purchase a Transport Hitch. Instead, they pay $1,000 per month per robot as a licensing fee.
In October 2018, Hitch received a Letter of Intent from HMC Farms, one of the top commercial farms in California, to purchase 100 Hitch robots. In November 2019, the company signed a commercial agreement with Grown Rogue, which intends to purchase 400 robots. Hitch expects to deliver these orders in Q4 2020.
Moving forward, Hitch will develop additional equipment, including two new farming robots:
Harvest Hitch: This device will identify and automatically pick hemp flowers and other crops and ready them for transport.
Command Hitch: This will connect a fleet of Hitch robots to ensure maximum efficiency.
Nick has a background in computer science, and has spent the last 15 years building and launching products for notable tech companies. Throughout his career, he’s worked with WeWork, Amazon, American Express, and E-Trade.
Before starting Hitch, he was Chief Operating Officer for Philosophie Group, a software company helping businesses create design-related projects. He held this position for nearly nine years.
Nick earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Sonoma State University.
Ethan is a serial entrepreneur and award-winning technologist.
He began his career building a multimedia software company before moving on to become an engineer with VPL Research, a company focused on virtual and augmented reality technologies.
From there, he worked for Xaos Tools, a software company, where he developed consumer graphics products. Following that, he co-founded WorldSite Networks, a website hosting company for the entertainment industry.
Most recently, Ethan co-founded Nami Media, an entertainment company that was acquired by Lin Media.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from MIT.
An early-stage venture capital firm invested in technology-related startups. Has invested in more than 30 companies that have achieved successful “exits.”