The mission of Ag Startup Engine is to serve as the conduit between early stage agricultural startups and investors.
We are passionate about equipping entrepreneurs who focus on solving hard problems in the agriculture industry with the tools needed to build successful, industry-changing solutions. Entrepreneurs are at the center of everything we do.
We aim to build a world-class community of ag entrepreneurs, industry partners, and investors by serving as the bridge between these groups. As experienced founders, we understand what it takes to succeed and are committed to supporting cutting-edge businesses who are changing the agriculture industry.
Our Core Values
We believe in fostering relationships by building bridges between portfolio companies and investors through funding and investments to help stem successful startups.
Networking & Relationships
Building a strong network of relationships is a critical part of building a successful business. At Ag Startup Engine, we understand the importance of networking and are dedicated to creating a supportive community of mentors, sponsors and entrepreneurs.
We are passionate about finding and addressing real problems facing the agricultural industry. We believe that the best businesses are built by solving hard problems.
Meet Our Team
Joel Harris is a co-founder and the CEO of Genvax Technologies. Genvax Technologies was founded in 2021, and is developing herd-specific, prescription mRNA + nanoparticle vaccines for the livestock industry, with an initial focus on swine. Harris also serves as Executive Director for the Ag Startup Engine, a pre-seed stage investment group focused on midwest agricultural innovation. He previously started another mRNA livestock vaccine company alongside his father. Their company, Harrisvaccines, was sold to Merck Animal Health in 2015. After selling Harrisvaccines and prior to starting Genvax Technologies, Harris spent time on the investment side of the startup world with groups like Ag Startup Engine and Vitalize Venture Group. Harris has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Iowa.
Colin is the CEO for Mach, as well as a Board Member for Jackrabbit Equipment. Prior to that, he founded Smart Ag, which developed the first aftermarket driverless system to automate tractors, and he successfully completed its acquisition to Raven Industies in 2019. Smart Ag was the first investment for Ag Startup Engine, as well as its first company to exit. Out of college, Colin's very first business was inventing a product and founding a company to reduce soil compaction called TrackTill. He commercialized the product and licensed it to Yetter Manufacturing.
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.
At 19, I started an ag tech company called KinoSol.There we built solar powered food dehydrators for farmers in developing regions. Over the next 6 years as CEO, I led the company in launching our product in over 50 countries. When the pandemic hit, I jumped over to the VC side as the first hire at ISA Ventures, a $22M seed stage fund in Iowa. After a couple years there and a desire to focus back on food and agriculture, I had the opportunity to join Ag Startup Engine as a Venture Partner, building and leading their 3rd fund. I'm excited to write $250k checks and lead pre-seed and seed rounds for founders solving critical problems in ag. In my free time, I can be found training for half Ironman races or planning my next international adventure!
Hannah Hill is an Associate for the Ag Startup Engine, as well as the Vice President of Staff and Facilities for Genvax Technologies, a startup animal vaccine company. Prior to joining Genvax, she was the Chief of Staff for Performance Livestock Analytics where she successfully executed the diligence process of their exit to Zoetis. Hannah graduated from Iowa State University in 2018 with a B.S. in Agronomy and a minor in Entrepreneurship.
Get In Touch
Are you ready to join our startup ecosystem or become a sponsor? Or do you just have questions? Send us a message below. We can't wait to hear from you!