Photo of the 2017 Future Agro Challenge. Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University was the only location in the United States to hold a competition and will be sending one competitive entrepreneur to compete at the Global Agripreneurs Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, in April 2018. | Photo courtesy NMSU
Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University is sending one competitive entrepreneur to compete at the Global Agripreneurs Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, in April 2018.
Arrowhead was selected as the only location in the United States to hold a competition as part of the Future Agro Challenge.
Summit participants will meet world-class investors and mentors, engage with potential customers, gain access to new market opportunities, and command media attention. Previous finalists have received investment from celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, while others have managed to secure up to $15 million within three years of the event.
Arrowhead’s exclusive hosting opportunity grew from its AgSprint accelerator program sponsored by the New Mexico Gas Company and U.S. Economic Development Administration.
AgSprint ventures received five months of customized support tailored to each entrepreneurial team’s unique path to business development and financial success. The program culminated in AgAssembly, a conference held at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in August 2017, which brought together an exceptional statewide coalition in agribusiness and local talent in agricultural entrepreneurship.
To capitalize on the momentum of the AgSprint accelerator and the visibility of AgAssembly, co-founders of Future Agro Challenge contacted AgSprint program director Zetdi Sloan to host a competition for entrepreneurs to compete at the global summit.
To select a summit participant, Arrowhead Center hosted a six-minute pitch contest between entrepreneur contestants from across the U.S., juried by a panel of investment and industry experts. Two competitors stood out among the crowd.
Runner-up Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch is a Denver-based startup that farms crickets and grubs, and produces cricket protein powder and other edible products. RMMR is a powerhouse in the alternative proteins movement, who previously participated in AgSprint and AgAssembly.
The winner of the competition, WISRAN, is a San José -based agtech company that provides action-based business and process intelligence to live farming. Coverage areas of WISRAN’s technology include heavy farm equipment, farm logistics optimization, connected farms, and farm management software.
All pitch contest applicants received Arrowhead support in the form of business model and pitch advising.
Arsalan Lodhi, founder of WISRAN, said the pitch experience at Arrowhead was valuable and that the panel asked “tough business questions that addressed our core value proposition for farmers, which is to improve net profit by reducing the run-time of equipment, labor and fuel in real-time operations.”
“I’m looking forward to competing in Turkey and meeting global leaders in the field,” Lodhi said. “I learned through the process that Turkey has a large farming market, so I’m also looking forward to receiving feedback there and exploring a potential market opportunity.”
According to Future Agro Challenge co-founder Carla Tanas, based in Greece, the summit is “an annual industry highlight that brings increasing interaction between industry experts and stakeholders such as farmers, agripreneurs, investors, corporations and the public to showcase the future of agriculture from around the world and to build awareness of the industry’s potential, introduce game-changing innovations, and attract the necessary talent that will revive the 40 percent of the workforce employed by agriculture.”
The 2018 Global Agripreneurs Summit and competition will attend to the hottest industry trends emerging in the field, such as blockchain, gene editing, transparency, personal nutrition, Big Data and AI, and more.
Arrowhead Center will cover hotel and flight costs and organize the logistics of sending the U.S. competitor to the global stage. WISRAN will compete in two rounds abroad before the third round of pitching at the summit.
Author: Lauren Goldstein – NMSU