Clements: The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge gives new agriculture businesses a boost in startup. More than $145,000 of startup funds will be given out during this year’s challenge. Four finalists, recently announced, will compete for $25,000 in January. AFBF rural development director Lisa Benson says even the businesses that won’t be competing in the finals benefit from applying for the challenge.
Benson: What I’ve heard from our applicants, even the folks who didn’t win, was that having to pull together the pieces of the application really challenged them to think in a different way. So, we took a business plan summary from the U.S. Small Business Administration and then we tweaked questions so that it’s a series of questions about your business.
Clements: Finalists in the challenge will head to a live competition during the 2018 AFBF Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show in Nashville.
Benson: We will be live streaming the competition, so you can watch it on our website, strongruralamerica.com. It’s one thing to maybe read about one of the business, but to see them live is a real treat. You’ll also be able to see the Q&A with our judges. So, kind of like Shark Tank, they do their pitches and they get grilled by our experts.
Clements: Applications for next year’s challenge will be available in May of 2018 at www.strongruralamerica.com. However, Benson says interested applicants should start preparing now.
Benson: My goal is to actually post the application that we use this year on our website. Our application next year will be very similar to this year, so you can always plan ahead. Even the idea of thinking through what is your value proposition, who’s your competition, what’s your go-to market strategy, all those things can actually provide you great insight into your business right away.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.