By Katie Ward, MidAtlantic Farm Credit Marketing Specialist
This article can be found in the latest edition of our Leader Magazine, among stories about four of your cooperative's Directors.
AgPitch18 was held on December 6, 2018 as part of the Grow and Fortify Summit in Stevensville, Maryland. This “Shark Tank” style event featured five entrepreneurs who presented their agriculture business ideas in front of a live audience and a panel of judges. The participants were competing for a $7,500 cash prize in addition to business services.
Farm Credit received applications from nearly 30 creative and innovative entrepreneurs looking to make a positive impact on the agriculture industry. These applicants went through a round of pre-judging, where several industry professionals evaluated each application for viability, innovation, and to see if they were “ready for prime time.”
The five finalists who pitched at the event on December 6 were: Marnane Agricultural Drone Technologies (MADTECH), Johnny Oysterseed, 1000 EcoFarms, AgriMetis, and GreatAlga. Each finalist had five minutes to pitch their business to a panel of judges and an audience of over 250 people, who were able to participate in the voting process. The judging panel consisted of Isvara Wilson, Chief Administrative Officer of AgFirst Farm Credit; Alex Moore, Sr. Partner of Stratagon, Inc. and Immediate Past President of MANRRS; Mike Thielke, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center; and Jan Baum, Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Towson University.
“I admire the passion and enthusiasm all five finalists have for the ideas they presented at AgPitch,” says Tom Truitt, CEO of MidAtlantic Farm Credit. “Hearing the pitches and learning about each organization has me certain that the future of the agriculture industry is in good hands. We’re excited for MADTECH and look forward to watching the business develop.”
The total tally of votes from the judges and audience members was counted immediately after the event concluded, and revealed MADTECH of Huntingtown, Maryland as the winner of AgPitch18.
MADTECH was founded by a father-son team that has developed "The MADTECH System," which captures real-time farm data using advanced Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) network management to fly two types of very sophisticated fixed wing drone technologies simultaneously. The data gathered by the drones is coupled with rapid lab testing, targeted ground proofing, and writing optimized prescriptions for farm equipment to enable a farm to be continuously optimized for efficiency in real time.
“We are honored to have been chosen to present our business concept to the judges and audience of the 2018 AgPitch event,” says Tom Marnane, Co-Founder and President of MADTECH. “I am very confident in our technology and the opportunities it can bring to farmers in Maryland and across the country. We can’t thank Farm Credit enough for creating such a venue to allow agriculture companies like MADTECH to enhance our business and expand our impact.”
All five finalists receive membership into the F3Tech pre-accelerator program, which will give them the opportunity to explore avenues to help them grow their business ideas.