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.