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Michael Schaeffer says his job is all about finding solutions — so when he struggled to find employees at the day-to-day operations at the farm where he worked, he set out to develop a better way to hire farmhands.
Schaeffer, who lives in Dewitt, created the app FarmPost in 2018, which helps to connect workers with farms looking for employees.
Farm owners are able to create a profile and post jobs on the app, and workers can search for open jobs that match their skill sets, as well as see the wage for the job, and if it offers benefits such as housing or health insurance.
As a former farm manager and precision agricultural specialist, Schaeffer said typical methods of advertising work were no longer bringing in enough potential hires.
“Before the app came along, we started with Facebook and Craigslist and local newspaper ads. Ten or 15 years ago that used to be effective, but today, not so much,” Schaeffer said.
In 2018, he started asking customers and other farmers what would be most useful in finding more farmworkers.
Schaeffer, who now works full-time for FarmPost, continued developing the app as part of Iowa State University’s Startup Factory.
“They helped me build a strong foundation under the business by showing me that you have to go off of what your customers are wanting — not what you think is going to work,” he said.
“Customer discovery is everything.”
FarmPost, available on Google Play and Apple, has more than 7,000 users. While the app’s strongest user base is in the Midwest, there are jobs posted in all 50 states, Schaeffer said.
“When I was starting out, I was kind of narrow-minded about this. I was a first-time entrepreneur — I really focused on Eastern Iowa,” he said. “This is where I live, this is where I see the problem, I want to help out.”
Schaeffer will speak about starting his company at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, June 16, as part of the 1 Million Cups Founder Fireside series. Go to newbo.co/1mc for more details.
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