10 Rural and Agricultural Startups Share in $145,000 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge
Since the days of Starutp America, an initiative set forth by the Obama administration, an emphasis has been made on startups across the country outside of Silicon Valley and New York has been made. Sites like Tech.co, Silicon Prairie and Nibletz, edtech everywhere, startups everywhere else, have highlighted and supported startups in every nook and cranny of this great country. Steve Case, the billionaire founder of AOL and founder of Revolution has been spearheading the “Rise of The Rest” tour, to highlight entrepreneurship in Anytown USA.
Lately we’ve seen a rise in agricultural startups and rural entrepreneurship. Innovative entrepreneurs in the heartland are solving problems unique to their areas. Livestock management, farming and wind energy are just some examples of technology that’s best suited for development in rural America.
That’s why three years ago, the American Farm Burea Federation launched the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The challenge is one of the staples of the AFBF’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative Programs. Fb.org reports that to date over 1,000 businesses in 37 states have benefitted through various REI projects.
Last week the AFBF announced the top ten teams at an event in Washington DC. Four finalists were announced along with six category winners. The four finalist teams all received $15,000 and the six category winners received $10,000 each. The four finalists will compete at the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Nashville Tennessee January 7, 2018. The Entrepreneur of the Year award winner will receive another $15,000 and there will also be a People’s Choice award winner that will receive $10,000.
Here are the four finalists:
- GeoAir, Knoxville, Tennessee—ag technology entry. Team lead: Alexander Adams
- Hawk Knob, Lewisburg, West Virginia—craft beverage entry. Team leads: Josh Bennett and Will Lewis
- SwineTech, Inc., Oskaloosa, Iowa—ag technology entry. Team leads: Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza
- Wild Valley Farms, Croydon, Utah—local product entry. Team lead: Albert Wilde
These are this year’s six category winners:
- Best Agritourism Startup: HomeGrown HideAways Certified Kitchen, Berea, Kentucky. Team leads: Jessa and Nathan Turner
- Best Craft Beverage Startup: Waynesville Soda Jerks, Waynesville, North Carolina. Team leads: Megan Brown and Chris Allen.
- Best Ag Technology Startup: SaleRing, Ames, Iowa. Team leads: Kevin and Lilia Roepke
- Best Farm-to-Table Startup: Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, Clinton, Arkansas. Team leads: Levi Ross and Cody Hopkins
- Best Local Product Startup: Hidden Pastures Goat Dairy, Glenfield, New York. Team leads: Blake and Andrew Place
- Best Farm Startup: Pangaea Plants Herb Farm, Lake Lure, North Carolina. Team lead: Gabriel Noard
You can find out more about the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative here at strongruralamerica.com