Ohio company reaches Top 10 in Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

A Union County company will receive $10,000 for reaching the Top 10 of American Farm Bureau’s 2017 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. Demeter Inc. of Irwin has created low-cost agriculture software and sensors systems derived from military technologies.

“We take military technology and we adapt it to agricultural uses. We make advanced precision agriculture affordable and available to every farmer,” said Terry Hofecker, Demeter CEO.

Eleven Ohioans competed in the contest, which drew more than 350 applications nationwide. The contest is awarding a total of $145,000 in startup funds to the businesses that reach the Top 10. Demeter was named a semifinalist and doesn’t advance to the finals, which will be held during AFBF’s Annual Convention in Phoenix in January. The four finalists will be competing in a live competition.

Demeter’s AgPlot software is derived from a program developed by an Air Force research laboratory. It allows farmers to take a measurement from a field and plot it on a color map The company is developing hand-held sensors for soil chemistry and soil moisture and taking tethered balloon technology from the military to create low-cost aerial imagery.

“For under $500 we can equip (farmers) with a basic sensor and software to create simple color maps of their crops and fields. They’ll be able to increase their yield,” Hofecker said.

The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge 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 applicants had to be Farm Bureau members and submit a business plan, video pitch and photo.

Ohio Farm Bureau membership