Eleven Ohioans are competing for $145,000 in startup funds for their businesses in American Farm Bureau’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The third annual contest had more than 350 applications, more than double the number last year.
The contest is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses. In the contest, rural entrepreneurs pitch innovative business ideas that would benefit rural areas in the United States. All applications had to include a business plan, video pitch and photo.
In October, the top 10 teams will be announced with six semi-finalists each receiving $10,000 in startup funds and the four finalists advancing to a live competition during AFBF’s Annual Convention in Phoenix in January. The finalists will be competing for a chance to win the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award and $30,000 (chosen by judges); People’s Choice award and $25,000 (chosen by public vote); first runner-up prize of $15,000, and second runner-up prize of $15,000. Last year’s entrepreneur winner used the funds to kickstart his business, which offers software to farmers to assist with crop maintenance.
Ohio’s entries this year were mostly food and agricultural businesses expanding their operations to meet demand for local products and to increase consumer education about agriculture. The other entries were low-cost precision agriculture software for farmers and a skin care product featuring hemp.