The Ag Startup Engine is a private systematic program to fund AgTech entrepreneurs and help them towards success through mentorship and financial support.

True seed investment is to get an idea into incorporation so that market size for minimum viable product can be determined, unfair competitive advantages can be articulated, and traction can be established either through customer discovery or successful government grant acceptance


“Those three criteria can go a long way to support a good pitch that then can be presented to VCs for a series A of capitalization.” - Joel Harris, co-director


The Ag Startup Engine plans to be a supportive agent in Iowa State University’s major startup initiative with the intent of making ISU a Top 5 university in startup creation. Startups are extremely important to universities, cities, counties and states because they create almost all new net jobs.


ASE works in tandem with the ISU Startup Factory, ISU Pappajohn Center, and the ISU Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative around agriculture-centric ventures.

Looking at AgTech industries including Robotics, Animal Health, Precision Ag, Livestock Automation, and Clean Energy. Along with other related applications. 

Our Directors
Joel Harris_Co-Director

Joel Harris, Co-Director

Joel is the President of Charter Oak Creative, a consulting practice focusing on helping startups and entrepreneurs solve problems. Formerly he was the Director of Product at GlobalVetLINK and prior to that was VP of Harrisvaccines which was acquired by Merck Animal Health in November of 2015. Along with coordinating investor relations and mentoring at the Ag Startup Engine, he participates in several advisory and mentoring roles to entrepreneurs and startups in the SaaS, Agtech, Biotech, and Healthcare industries between Chicago, Iowa City, and Ames. Joel holds a degree in economics from the University of Iowa and a professional certificate in public relations, marketing, and non-fiction writing from Northwestern University.

Kevin Kimle, Co-Director

Kevin currently serves as the Rastetter Chair of Agricultural Entrepreneurship at Iowa State University, Director of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics.  Prior to his appointment at Iowa State University, Kevin worked in a variety of capacities in agriculture. His professional experiences range from agtech start-up companies, the seed industry, venture capital, commodity risk management, and agricultural and trade policy.

© 2020 by Ag Startup Engine LLC.  |  ISU Research Park  |  2710 South Loop Drive  |  Ames, Iowa 50010