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Hatching Time leads Delaware Inc. 5000 companies

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Newark-based agriculture e-commerce retailer Hatching Time saw exploding sales after COVID, pushing to to a Top 200 ranking on this year’s Inc. 5000 list. | PHOTO COURTESY OF HATCHING TIME

NEWARK – It was a bit of serendipity that led to Hatching Time, a startup company that has quickly become an e-commerce leader for a niche market of backyard poultry farmers and broke into the Top 200 fastest growing private companies on this year’s Inc. 5000 list.

Yağız Aksu was working in banking for TV retailer QVC in Poland in 2016 when he returned to Turkey to visit family. There, he struck up a conversation with an uncle who runs a manufacturing company for agricultural equipment.

“When my uncle heard I was in Poland, he said, ‘So you can become our Polish distributor?’ I was like, ‘Distribute what?’ And he explained about their cages, incubators, and so on. I was hesitant,” Aksu told Delaware Business Times.

Upon returning home and investigating the local market, however, he found the equipment for raising poultry wasn’t easy to find in Poland. After receiving some product samples and finding them to be high quality, Aksu agreed to distribute the family’s products.

Two years later, when his close friend and boss at QVC Neil Flanagan announced his retirement, Aksu came to him with a proposal.

“He mentioned that he didn’t want to be in the corporate world anymore, so I had an idea. I told him about the products that I was selling in Poland, and I said I wanted to bring the business to the U.S.,” Aksu recalled. “He discussed it with his wife, and a few months later they were in.”

They started by selling the products on eBay Marketplace, drawing about $3,600 in sales in their first month in March 2019.

Hatching Time Inc 5000 Yagiz Aksu Ryan Flanagan

Yağız Aksu, left, and Ryan Flanagan serve as co-CEOs of the startup Hatching Time that has filled a niche agricultural market. | | PHOTO COURTESY OF HATCHING TIME

When Neil’s son and serial e-commerce entrepreneur Ryan Flanagan joined the Newark-based company, however, they really began to move the needle.

“I know how to kind of open up the lemonade stand and tear down the walls, so everyone knows you’re there,” he said. “Once I saw the first sales come in and there weren’t returns, I jumped in to put it into hyperdrive.”

From 2019 to 2022, Hatching Time saw its sales grow 3,274% to about $4.1 million last year – good enough to rank No. 159 on the annual Inc. 5000 list. It’s the highest ranking for a Delaware-based company since 2017, when home renovation company HomeStar Remodeling ranked No. 130.

The company sells equipment that spans “egg-to-meat” for chickens and quail, including products like incubators, brooders, processing cones and feather pluckers, and is available from its own website or major online retailers like Amazon, eBay and Walmart.

Aksu noted that Hatching Time’s comprehensive product line is rare for the niche homesteader industry, where some companies may offer some but not all the necessary items. That has helped them to create repeat customers as patrons can find what they need to advance their operations – about a quarter of Hatching Time customers are repeat buyers, Aksu said.

The company’s sales boomed during and after the COVID pandemic, when many families turned to backyard farming to pass time and produce their own food. The escalating price of eggs in 2022 likewise led to a growth of interest in the company’s products, Flanagan said. This year, its sales have already surpassed $5 million.

“While the e-commerce for traditional sellers like Tractor Supply got better and better [through the pandemic], we were able to hit this niche market very strategically, bidding on keywords that were very cheap and snowballing the impact in the beginning,” Flanagan said.

That has led to an increased brand awareness, and now major retailers are seeking them out rather than vice versa, he added.

“I was recently at a county fair in Delaware and the people there knew our name. So, it’s really cool to see the name recognition out there,” Flanagan said.

Established names too

This year’s Inc. 5000 list includes six Delaware companies that are repeat honorees, with Newark-based temporary staffing agency Placers earning its 10th total placement and the eighth consecutive annual placement on the list.

Growing Wilmington-based online lender Best Egg made the list for the first time at No. 3,280 with 155% average growth over the last three years.

“Our efforts to remove friction, offer consumers more flexibility and increase access to responsible lending products and financial health tools have helped us accelerate to $26 billion in personal loan originations and 2.9 million accounts since the platform’s inception in March 2014. We look forward to driving continued growth in the years to come, helping our customers be money confident,” Best Egg CEO Paul Ricci said in a statement.

Middletown-based ad fraud detection software firm Anura Solutions also made the list for the first time, ranking No. 1,731 with 322% average annual growth.

“We have overcome a lot to get where we are today. As a small business, we are a bootstrapped company. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done. Throughout my career I’ve partnered on five separate multimillion-dollar businesses, and I enjoy the challenge of starting from scratch,” Rich Kahn, co-founder and CEO of Anura, said in a statement. “For the most part, it’s just being very careful with money and being very strategic with the day-to-day operations of the business to ensure growth year over year. Being in the public eye to know who you are and what makes your product or service unique is the most important thing to drive a business.”

As always, about 10 other companies were listed by Inc. as Delaware companies, but they exist here only on paper, with actual headquarters listed in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York City and Ukraine, among other locations. Delaware Business Times uses online and on-the-ground research to weed out those with physical presences in the First State.

Delaware’s 2022 Inc. 5000 companies by ranking

159. Hatching Time – 3,274% / Retail  (Newark)

444. Delaware Limo – 1,308% / Logistics & Transportation (Wilmington)

609. Dynamic Dental Solutions – 968% / Business Products & Services (Wilmington)

957. Relig Staffing – 621% / Human Resources (Dover)

1103. Incredible One Enterprises – 535% / Business Products & Services (Newark)

1176. Nurturing Angels Home Care – 502% / Health Services (Greenville)

1657. MSRcosmos – 338% / Software (Wilmington)

1731. Anura Solutions – 322% / Software (Middletown)

1831. Social Contract – 306% / Government Services (Wilmington)

1887. Keylent – 298% / IT Services (Wilmington)

2714. Carvertise – 198% / Advertising & Marketing (Wilmington)

3280. Best Egg – 155% / Financial Services (Wilmington)

3795. R.S. Widdoes & Son – 125% / Construction (Wilmington)

4153. Action Unlimited Resources – 108% / Business Products & Services (New Castle)

4213. ARS Truck & Fleet Service – 105% / Business Products & Services (New Castle)

4832. Placers – 80% / Business Products & Services (Newark)

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