Middle Bit: Farm Bureau will award $145,000 in 2020 innovation challenge

Steven Brockshus of FarmlandFinder accepts the 2019 Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award. (Photo courtesy of American Farm Bureau Federation).

The American Farm Bureau Innovation Challenge will give out $145,000 in prizes to 10 different startups. The challenge, which began in 2015, was the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs. 

The 10 semifinalists will be announced on Nov. 22 and all of them will be invited for an all-expense-paid trip to the AFBF’s Annual Convention in Austin in January. Each semifinalist will also be awarded $10,000.

The 10 teams will compete to advance to the final round where four teams will receive an additional $5,000 and compete live on stage in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives. The final four teams will compete to win an additional $15,000. 

The funds for the challenge are provided by Farm Credit, John Deere, Bayer Crop Science, Farm Bureau Bank and County Financial.

WorkHound named 2019 Chattanooga Startup of the Year

WorkHound, a real-time feedback platform for front-line workers, won the top prize at the StartupWeek awards celebration in Chattanooga last night.

The Des Moines-based company that expanded to Chattanooga in 2016 has grown to serve more than 20,000 workers was recognized as the 2019 Startup of the Year business in Chattanooga.

In June, the company announced that it had completed a fundraising seed round of $1.5 million to help grow the its technology team and support its expansion into the logistics space and additional industries.

Initially, the company focused on the trucking space since driver turnover is a large problem across the trucking industry. Now, as WorkHound grows, the company is planning rollout into additional sectors, such as non-hospital healthcare, that feature large distributed workforces.

Small Business Administration offering entrepreneurship training program for veterans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is hosting an entrepreneurship training session next month for veterans, National Guard members.

The train sessions will cover the fundamentals of business ownership, key steps for evaluating business concepts, developing business plans, connecting with local resources and launching small business.

The training session, titled “Boots to Business: Reboot,” will be hosted by the SBA Iowa District Office and the Veterans Business Resource Center with the cooperation of the University of Dubuque. The session will feature presentations by SBA resource partners, including SCORE, America’s SBDC – Iowa (the Small Business Development Centers), and small business owners.

This session is scheduled for Nov. 7 from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the University of Dubuque in Cedar Rapids.

The first session will be followed up with an eight-week Foundations of Entrepreneurship online training course presented by a consortium of professors and skilled business advisors from the SBA network, Syracuse University and Mississippi State University.  

Click here to register for the “Boots to Business: Reboot” class, and for notification of future veterans training and events.