close [X]

Semi-Finalists Named in First National Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

Newsroom / October 13, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 14, 2014 – The American Farm Bureau Federation together with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas today announced the 10 national semi-finalists of the first-ever Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The challenge provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations being developed in rural regions of the United States.

AFBF President Bob Stallman made the announcement at the National Summit on Rural Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. The semi-finalist businesses, chosen from more than 200 applicants, will advance to the next phase of the challenge. They include:

  • ATP-SC (Allendale, South Carolina), a process to convert plant and woody biomass into bio-products. Team lead: Joe James;
  • Branches, Inc. (Neosho, Missouri), an online, STEM-based learning platform that teaches design and fabrication. Team lead: David Parsons;
  • Fergus Foods (Fergus Falls, Minnesota), a rural food entrepreneur incubator and rental facility. Team lead: Robert Fuglie;
  • Senior Move Management (Palmyra, Missouri), customized moving and relocation services for older Americans. Team lead: Suzanne Ellerbrock;
  • Mobile Rural Veterinary Clinic (Panhandle, Texas), a mobile veterinary satellite clinic serving rural communities. Team lead: Joe Hillhouse;
  • Pasturebird, LLC (Temecula, California), a cost-effective method of producing pastured poultry on a large scale. Team lead: Paul Greive;
  • Pulaski Grow (Pulaski, Virginia), an aquaponics facility to provide local youth with job training. Team lead: Lee Spiegel;
  • ScoutPro (Lone Tree, Iowa), software to assist farmers with crop maintenance. Team lead: Michael Koenig;
  • Shelf Life (Arlington, Tennessee), a hydroponic growing system for small producers. Team lead: Glenn Cunningham; and
  • StopFlood Appliance Systems (Inkom, Idaho), a product to prevent floods caused by washing machine hose failures. Team lead: Brent Singley.

“The outstanding group of entrepreneurs selected as semi-finalists reflects the depth and diversity of rural business ideas in cultivation across the nation,” Stallman said. “They are proof that great business ideas can be generated anywhere.”

After a series of virtual team interviews, judges will choose four finalists to continue in the challenge. The four challenge finalists will each win $15,000. They will pitch their business ideas to a team of judges at the AFBF 96th Annual Convention in January in hopes of winning the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award for an additional $15,000, and the Peoples’ Choice Award for $10,000 more, totaling prize money of up to $40,000 to implement their ideas. The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is a key component of the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, a joint effort between AFBF and Georgetown McDonough.

“Rural entrepreneurs face unique challenges and more limited options when exploring new business ideas. But just as in Silicon Valley, great ideas combined with the proper support and funding can be transformational,” said Jeff Reid, founding director, StartupHoyas at Georgetown.

The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative is a joint program of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas. The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative is directly tied to AFBF’s mission of building strong and prosperous agricultural communities.

For more information about the challenge or the semi-finalists, contact Cyndie Sirekis at cyndies@fb.org or Brynn Boyer at Brynn.boyer@georgetown.edu.

About the American Farm Bureau Federation
With family members at the county or parish level in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the American Farm Bureau Federation is the unified national “Voice of Agriculture,” working to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities. AFBF is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots organization of farm and ranch families. Additional information may be found at www.fb.org. Follow AFBF on Twitter: @FarmBureau.

About the Global Social Enterprise Initiative
The Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business aims to prepare current and future leaders to make responsible management decisions that yield both economic and social value. Through practical training for global business leaders, the initiative promotes transformative solutions to and impactful investments in the world’s significant challenges in health and well-being, economic growth, the environment and international development. Learn more at http://socialenterprise.georgetown.edu.

About the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative
The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, led by founding director Jeff Reid, inspires Georgetown University students to be entrepreneurial, teaches them the entrepreneurial lessons learned by others before them, connects them to useful resources, and helps them pursue their own unique entrepreneurial interests. The initiative manages an array of courses and extracurricular programs to serve the Georgetown University entrepreneurial community, both within and outside of the McDonough School of Business, and fosters stronger connections to the vibrant Washington, D.C., entrepreneurial community and the Georgetown Alumni Association. Signature programs include the Hoya Challenge Business Pitch Competition, the StartupHoyas Incubator, the McDonough School of Business Entrepreneurial Fellowship, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Faculty Exchange, Entrepreneurs in Residence, and events such as Georgetown Entrepreneurship Day, the Venture Capital Investment Competition and Global Entrepreneurship Week. Learn more at www.startuphoyas.com.

About Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business
Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business provides a transformational education through classroom and experiential learning, preparing students to graduate as principled leaders in the service to business and society. Through numerous centers, initiatives, and partnerships, Georgetown McDonough seeks to create a meaningful impact on global business practice through both research and teaching. All academic programs provide a global perspective, woven through the undergraduate and graduate curriculum in a way that is unique to Washington, D.C. – the nexus of world business and policy – and to Georgetown University’s connections to global partner organizations and a worldwide alumni network. Founded in 1957, Georgetown McDonough is home to some 1,400 undergraduates, 1,000 MBA students, and 1,200 participants in executive degree or open enrollment programs. Learn more at http://msb.georgetown.edu. Follow us on Twitter: @msbgu.


Joe James, president of ATP-SC.

David Parsons in front of a machine students will program via the Internet.

Jane Kraemer was the first to use Fergus Foods’ facility to explore a new business. She and Rob Fuglie are mentoring visitors to their booth at ExpoWest about marketing at trade shows.

Senior Move Management owners’ experiences as members of farm families has provided invaluable insights into the emotional and physical challenges faced in relocating farmers.

Drs. Joe and Carol Hillhouse have devoted their lives to improving the care for animals in their rural area. Their business has been an on-going experiment in finding economically viable ways to raise the level of medicine provided to their patients.

(Left to Right) Jeff McDaniel, Rob McDaniel, Paul Greive, Tom McDaniel. They launched a successful pastured poultry farm in April 2012.

The most important product from Pulaski Grow will be innovative youth who are trained and ready for the workforce or to start their own business.

Michael Koenig talks with FFA members about crop scouting before they go and scout their own plot for the chapter.

Shelf Life Lettuce is grown, sold and stored in one container, which cuts production costs while reducing handling and contamination concerns.

The StopFlood idea came to Brent Singley as an epiphany while driving to Denny’s. He immediately went to Home Depot where Dan Christiansen, a former Boeing engineer, worked. Singley showed his idea to Christiansen on paper and he said, “Brent you figured it out!” All needed parts for the device were found in the store.
 Click on any image for a high resolution version.
  Return to Newsroom

Share This Article