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Five Start-Ups Ready to Compete at Iowa Power Farming Show

Update: AgVend was selected by audience members attending the AgTech Innovation Competition as the People's Choice Award winner. The company will receive $5,000. The winner of the $20,000 grand prize, which was decided by a panel of judges, was Rantizo. Congratulations to all who competed!

As the Iowa Power Farming Show readies for visitors at the end of the month, five ag tech start-ups are also preparing to pitch their solutions to a problem facing agriculture. In its second year, the AgTech Innovation Competition is sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica).

“The AgTech Innovation Competition has provided a great opportunity for us to connect farmers and ranchers with technology solutions that have the potential to improve their operations,” says Dave Martin, FCSAmerica chief strategy officer. “We continue to work with several past contestants to connect them with farmers and ranchers in order to deliver effective technology solutions to serve agriculture producers.”

The competition will take place on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, at 2:30 p.m. during the Iowa Power Farming Show, which runs from January 29 to 31, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. The five start-ups will be vying for a $20,000 grand prize and a $5,000 People’s Choice Award. A team of judges will select the grand prize winner; audience members will have the opportunity to cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award winner.

Below is the list of start-ups competing.

Company: AgVend

Founders: Alexander Reichert and Eli Rosenberg

Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota


Background:  AgVend is a digital marketplace where farmers can purchase crop protection and nutrition inputs, as well as services, from ag retailers in their communities.

“Online purchasing will help increase farmers’ time and convenience – two things they have little of, especially during peak times of the year,” says Alexander Reichert, CEO of AgVend. “Additionally, and something we see with the ability to purchase product-service bundles on AgVend, farmers will have a wider selection of products and can be more selective when it comes to choosing services they need for their operations.”

Company: FarrPro

Founders:  Chris Hanson and Amos Petersen

Headquarters:  Iowa City, Iowa


Background: More than 17% of live-born piglets die before they are weaned. FarrPro has developed the Haven, which uses the partition wall between farrowing crates to create a semi-enclosed microclimate for two neighboring creeps. This keeps piglets safe, warm, and healthy during the dangerous indoor farrowing process. This product, which replaces heat lamps, separates the piglets’ warm local environment from the much cooler ambient environment a sow needs. In turn, this improves herd health, comfort, and productivity.

“We are introducing a new product into a market where swine producers have used cheap, highly inefficient, and sometimes deadly heat lamps to keep pigs warm for decades,” says Chris Hanson, FarrPro cofounder and vice president of business development.

The company recently signed an exclusive product representation agreement with Ag Environmental Resources (AER) to sell and distribute FarrPro’s Haven product.

“As a start-up, we decided it makes more sense to team up with an established, reputable strategic partner that is already operating in the swine industry and one that can scale sales rapidly,” says Hanson. “AER met all of those requirements and more.”

Company: Rabbit Tractors

Founders: Zack James

Headquarters:  Crown Point, Indiana


Background: The Rabbit is a compact, multipurpose farm robot that works in a swarm. Its goal is to outproduce larger equipment and minimize soil compaction, harm to the environment, and capital costs. The first Rabbit implements are an automated soil sampler and precision sprayer, which are part of an interchangeable platform.

Company: Rantizo

Founders: Michael Ott

Headquarters: Iowa City, Iowa


Background: Rantizo is a drone spraying platform that uses electrostatic technology to precisely deliver cartridge-dispensed ag chemicals only where they are needed. It also provides an end-to-end solution that identifies problem areas, diagnoses field issues, autonomously prescribes treatments, sprays the required chemical, and then verifies that the issue has been addressed correctly.

Company: SwineTech

Founders: Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza

Headquarters:  Cedar Rapids, Iowa


Background: SwineTech’s SmartGuard combines artificial intelligence with sensor-based technologies to reduce piglet crushing and preweaning mortality as well as monitor sow health.

About the Iowa Power Farming Show. The third-largest indoor farm show in the U.S., the Iowa Power Farming Show annually welcomes close to 700 exhibitors at the Iowa Events Center. Manufacturers and suppliers from across the country and around the globe afford attendees the opportunity to see the best that ag has to offer – from big iron to precision ag to livestock production to inputs and more. 

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