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FCSAmerica to Host Ag Innovation Contest

IPFS - Ag Innovation sponsorsEven as technology transforms the food and agricultural industries, finding the right product to solve the problems on your farm or ranch can be challenging.

Many companies are invested in advancing agriculture through technology. We are proud to collaborate with seven of them to sponsor the first Ag Innovation Pitch Competition at the Iowa Power Farming Show. The co-sponsors will award a $20,000 grand prize to the start-up whose product can make a significant difference for producers.

Six startups will compete, beginning at 3 p.m. January 31, 2018, in the HyVee Hall at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Gov. Kim Reynolds will help kick off the contest and Mike Pearson, recent host of Market to Market, will emcee.

Three judges will select the winner of the grand prize. They include: Mary Ebert, who farms with her husband and serves as program coordinator for Guthrie County Extension and Outreach; Susan K. Voss, a certified public accountant, member of FCSAmerica’s Board of Directors and a family farmer in Keokuk County; and Dave Martin, chief strategy officer leading all technology resources at FCSAmerica.

Below are the products and their innovators:



AgHelp: Solves labor scarcity in the agriculture industry by connecting producers with the immigrant workforce. AgHelp built an application that allows producers to post jobs to the workers they need. It also connects the workers to resources in the community to help them with their transition to a new area.

Feliciano, Ivan and Sadoc Paredes picked fruits and vegetables alongside their parents and experienced the uncertainty of searching for the next job through word of mouth and outdated fliers. Xiaomei Huang transformed the brothers’ idea for AgHelp into the app available at

AgriSync: Allows producers to solve and track support issues with participating companies. Producers are able to submit a request and get live video chat with trusted partners. AgriSync has found success working with equipment dealerships to help connect them with customers in the fields. The application saves time and money for producers and agribusiness.

Casey Niemann and Jerrod Westfahl grew up on farms. Casey, who earned an agriculture degree from Kansas State and an EMBA from the University of Iowa, spent 14 years at Microsoft. Prior to that, he worked for Syngenta. Jerrod earned degrees in ag economics and law. He has 14 years of experience delivering professional service to large and small business clients and served as CEO of venture-backed Purple Wave. Meet their full team at

Bushel: Replaces paper scale tickets at the grain elevator or cooperative with instant notification of how much was delivered and at what price as soon as the grain is delivered and entered into the Bushel system. Bushel has aspirations to be an e-commerce platform for producers to purchase all their inputs from their local elevator/cooperative.

Jake Joraanstad tinkered with computers as a rural North Dakota kid and recognized the impact technology could have on agriculture. Ryan Raguse grew up helping out on his family’s farm in Minnesota, where timely information was critical to the operation. The two founded Myriad Mobile, an enterprise software development company specializing in ag technology, while students at North Dakota State University. Their team has grown to 60 and last year they launched Bushel, which is now used at 180 elevator locations and accessible to 20,000 growers in the U.S. and Canada.

HeavyWorth: Organizes entire farm equipment inventories into detailed catalogs that list everything owners need to know about their equipment. This includes an inventory’s approximate market value, which can then be shared with lenders, business partners and others. HeavyWorth still is in early stages of development.

Aaron McKee, Josh Goodell and Dusty Reynolds founded HeavyWorth. McKee, a graduate of Kansas State University, is founder and CEO of Purple Wave, an online, no reserve auction for ag equipment. Goodell, a University of Nebraska grad, has been in product design with companies such as Hudl and Mutual of Omaha. Raised in small town Nebraska, Reynolds is an entrepreneur at heart, having started other companies prior to HeavyWorth.

Smart Ag: Developing technology that allows producers to do more with less labor. Smart Ag currently is focused on autonomous, unmanned grain carts that pair with combines as the move through the field.

Colin Hurd, an Iowa State University graduate in agriculture business, founded Agriculture Concepts in 2013 and developed two successful products, TrackTill and CADEN Edge. After licensing TrackTill to Yetter Manufacturing and exiting the distribution contract for Caden Edge, Hurd turned his attention to solving farm labor scarcity problems through

Tractor Zoom: Organizes live auction inventory into a simple, easy to use application that eliminates lengthy searches of websites and paper auction bills. Tractor Zoom is a one-stop shop for all live auctions going on in your area. The application can be downloaded for free on the Google Play and App Store.

Kyle McMahon sold the lawn and landscaping business he founded as a teen-ager to help fund his degree in landscape architecture at Iowa State University. After college, he traveled the Midwest reviewing new tracts for sale and attending 1,000-plus land and equipment auctions. He recognized that farmers didn’t have a digitally searchable database for upcoming equipment auctions and Tractor Zoom was born.


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