“ScoutPro” Creators Named Semi-Finalists in Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa (RRIA) program, which has helped more than 2,500 Iowans successfully own and grow their businesses, is being credited for helping three Iowa farm kids win national distinction for their unique pest management and identification software business.

The ‘ScoutPro’ app, created by Michael Koenig, Stuart McCulloh and Holden Nyhus, puts the power of pest and weed identification on easily-accessible iPads or mobile devices.  The idea for an app came from these Iowa State University agriculture students, who first heard about RRIA in their entrepreneurship class.

The hands-on mentoring of IFBF’s Renew Rural Iowa program helped their dream get from the blackboard to investors’ boardrooms.  “We helped the ScoutPro team with their business plan, identifying marketing strategies and funding approaches,” says Adam Koppes, IFBF investment manager. “We’ve known this is a great idea from the start, but an idea is just an idea, unless you work a solid plan.  Today, Koenig, McCulloh and Nyhus and their ‘ScoutPro’ app has the ability to bring the nation’s farmers a 21st Century solution to 20th Century problems of crop damage.  We are not surprised that the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge team has taken notice of their potential and named ScoutPro a semi-finalist.

The Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative, showcases business innovations being developed in rural areas.  ScoutPro is now competing to be one of four finalists who will each win $15,000 and advance to the AFBF annual convention in January in San Diego where they will pitch their ideas for a chance to win the top prize –  Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award for an additional $15,000 and the People’s Choice Award for $10,000 more, totaling prize money of up to $40,000 to implement their idea.

“We’ve helped many businesses get off the ground since RRIA launched in 2006, and we have new content this year for our online curriculum, plus exclusive peer forums for those who qualify and financial advice.  It’s the kind of one-on-one help that many entrepreneurs and businesses need to achieve that ‘next level’ success,” says Sandy Ehrig, Iowa Farm Bureau’s RRIA economic development administrator.

“IFBF has always believed that strong, vibrant rural communities are the fabric of Iowa and we are committed to helping them thrive for the long-term, that’s why we’ve invested more than $80 million in rural communities in the last decade,” says Ehrig.

The online curriculum, the Renew Rural Iowa Pathways, is available at www.renewruraliowa.com and offers a menu of entrepreneurship guidance.  “We know there are more great ideas out there in Iowa, and making them a reality is what we do,” says Koppes.