A lively round of competition is expected when four national finalists pitch their business ideas to a team of judges during the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show in San Diego in January. A live feed of the finals competition will be available starting at 10:45 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Sunday, Jan. 11, at fb.org/ruraldevelopment.
The four finalists will each win $15,000 and vie to win the title Rural Entrepreneur of the Year for an additional $15,000, and the Peoples’ Choice Award for $10,000 more. The challenge will provide the finalists with prize money totaling $85,000 to implement their ideas.
The Rural Entrepreneur of the Year will be announced in the afternoon on Monday, Jan. 12.
AFBF, together with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas, announced the four national finalists in November. The challenge provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations being developed in rural regions of the United States.
The finalist businesses competing in January were chosen from more than 200 applicants:
Golden Bridges, Inc., serves Northeast Missouri and West Central Illinois, offering customized moving and relocation services. The company specializes in helping seniors transition from farms to more manageable housing in rural America. Team lead: Suzanne Ellerbrock;
Pasturebird, LLC, hails from California and offers a system to produce pastured poultry on a larger scale. Their low-cost method of rotational grazing enables farmers to raise healthy, pastured chicken, while also enriching their land. Team lead: Paul Greive;
Virginia-based Pulaski Grow plans to use aquaponics technology to provide fresh, local produce and fish to the community throughout the year. As part of the business, Pulaski Grow will provide training for youth to become innovative employees, managers and entrepreneurs. Team lead: Lee Spiegel; and
ScoutPro, Inc., of Iowa develops and deploys mobile crop scouting software for farmers and crop scouts. Scouts use the software when identifying weeds, insects, diseases and disorders common to corn and soybean production. Team lead: Michael Koenig.
“As most of us look forward to relaxing with family and friends over the holidays, the finalists are preparing to pitch their business ideas before a team of judges—and a live audience—in San Diego in January,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “Rural entrepreneurs from across the nation brought their ‘A’ game to this competition. We can all learn something from their great ideas for successful businesses in local communities.”
The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is a key component of the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, a joint effort between AFBF and the Georgetown McDonough School of Business. The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative is directly tied to AFBF’s mission of building strong and prosperous agricultural communities.
“The challenge provides seed money to help entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level,” said Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative. “These growing businesses can make a huge difference in small rural communities.”
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 athttp://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.