At Mylet Farms in Carroll County, Ind., you can pull your truck up to the grain bin and use your smartphone or tablet to activate the loading process. You can even watch a live video feed of it all on your screen.
The technology to do so was conceptualized by a Mylet family member about 150 years after his ancestors planted the first seed.
Neil Mylet is applying Silicon Valley concepts to rural Indiana, a location that serves as the inspiration for many of his ideas that he says are in turn cultivated through strong relationships. He plans to continue using them to make work safer, more efficient and to place just as much importance on the person doing the job as there is on the job itself.
Mylet Farms has been a family affair since 1863. Before the 5,000 acres of corn and soybeans became an environment in which Mylet's innovations could thrive, it had the same effect on his imagination.
"Sitting in a tractor going back and forth, you have a lot of time to think," the 29-year-old told the Pharos-Tribune.
After graduating from Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School, he entered the agricultural economics program at Purdue University in West Lafayette. There, he studied under voice mail inventor Scott A. Jones in the school's inaugural entrepreneurship course.
Before Mylet would go on to become a recurring guest lecturer himself for the course, he used it to appreciate the importance of whiteboards when innovating ideas, pursuing intellectual property protection and other approaches Jones applies to his career as an inventor.
It wasn't long before Mylet was hanging whiteboards all over his apartment and flyers all over campus soliciting the talents of computer programmers who didn't mind getting paid partially in pizza.
"I used their talents and their perspectives and their support to build a framework for kind of a road map for how we would scale up this technology and get it moving forward," Mylet said of his original staff. Many of those staffers went on to work for Google, Microsoft, Samsung and other tech giants.
Progress was stalled by a lack of funding and abundance of classes, but Mylet said they made strides in figuring out how to get hardware to interact with software—the underlying principle behind what would become his first major innovation.
He and the team ultimately realized technology was still a few years away from being able to turn his tractor-driving daydreams into reality. Then it took even more time to determine if there was even a place for their ideas on the market.
It turned out there was.