Showcasing Business Innovations in Agriculture
FarmlandFinder, with team lead Steven Brockshus, is the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2019 Rural Entrepreneur of the Year. Brockshus won the Ag Innovation Challenge by beating three other teams from across the nation in a live competition. AFBF, in partnership with Farm Credit, announced the winner at AFBF’s 100th Annual Convention.
Iowa-based FarmlandFinder, which aims to make the world’s farmland-availability information accessible, took home a total of $30,000 in prize money as Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneur of the Year.
Glean LLC of North Carolina won the People’s Choice Award (chosen by public vote) in the competition and a total of $25,000. Glean LLC produces healthy and fresh foods made from fruits and vegetables. Laura Hearn and Will Kornegay are team leads for Glean LLC.
AgHelp Corp. of Michigan, led by Feliciano Paredes, and Elite OviGen Inc. of Florida, led by Anette Skoog, were the other two finalists who competed in the final round of the challenge in New Orleans.
The final four teams competed for the award by pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges before a live audience on Jan. 13. They each received $15,000 in December and advanced in the competition.
The challenge, now in its fifth year, provides opportunities for individuals to showcase business innovations being developed in rural regions of the U.S. It is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses. The top challenge teams were selected by judges with expertise in business development, equity investment funding management, agribusiness lending and entrepreneurial coaching.
Farm Bureau would not be able to recognize and support these rural businesses without generous funding provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, Farm Bureau Bank, Country Financial, Farm Bureau Financial Services and Bayer Crop Science.
Semi-finalist teams in the competition were announced Nov. 9 and were awarded $10,000:
- Continuum Ag, Washington, Iowa. Team lead: Mitchell Hora
- Merchant’s Garden AgroTech, Tucson, Arizona. Team lead: Chaz Shelton
- Nebullam LLC, Ames, Iowa. Team lead: Clayton Mooney
- Pasture Labs/Trackter, Newnan, Georgia. Team lead: Josh Whitlock
- Texas Mobile Mill LLC, Madisonville, Texas. Team lead: Cathy Bernell
- Vinduino LLC, Temecula, California. Team lead: Reinier van der Lee
Aug. 15, 2018
Online application opens
Apply at https://vilcap.com/f/19.
Sept. 24, 2018
Online application closes
Nov. 5, 2018
Deadline for non-members to join Farm Bureau
Visit fb.org/join to learn about becoming a member
Nov. 9, 2018
Ten semifinalist teams announced and awarded $10,000.
Dec. 6, 2018
Final Four Announced
Final four teams (selected from the top 10 semifinalist teams) announced and awarded an additional $5,000 and all expenses paid to compete in live pitch competition.
Jan. 13, 2019
Final Four Compete
The final four teams compete at American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in New Orleans.
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