AFBF on Wednesday announced the top 10 teams – four finalists and six semi-finalists – in the 2017 Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. AFBF President Zippy Duvall made the announcement at the organization’s October board of directors meeting, noting that four of the top 10 teams are ag technology entries.
“Entrepreneurship is alive and well in rural America,” Duvall said. “It’s a pleasure to recognize these 10 outstanding businesses. The FB Challenge addresses some of the unique obstacles entrepreneurs typically face, namely, limited options for support such as startup funding.”
The final four teams, chosen from 356 applicants, were each awarded $15,000 and will advance to the next phase of the challenge. The final four are: Grow Bioplastics LLC, Knoxville, Tennessee; Levrack LLC, Seward, Nebraska; Vertical Harvest Hydroponics, Anchorage, Alaska; and Windcall Manufacturing Inc., Venango, Nebraska.
Semi-finalists in the competition will be awarded $10,000 each, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Farm Credit. They are: Demeter Inc., Irwin, Ohio; Farmzie, Raleigh, North Carolina; Gardens 4 Education, Hanford, California; Inland Sea Company LLC, Ames, Iowa; Lowcountry Street Grocery, Charleston, South Carolina; and Performance Livestock Analytics Inc., Osage, Iowa.
The final four will pitch their business ideas to a team of judges in front of a live audience at AFBF’s 98th Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show in Phoenix on Jan. 8, 2017. They’ll compete for the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award and an additional $15,000 in prize money, courtesy of sponsor Farm Bureau Bank. After the live-streamed event, members of the public will be invited to vote online for the People’s Choice Award and an additional $10,000.