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The future of agricultural technology begins in Haines City.
The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is partnering with Orlando-based StarterStudio to help new business startups in Polk County to form and grow their businesses more quickly with less risk and personal cost. This AG Tech business accelerator, called “Spark Rotation,” is an Entrepreneurial Support Organization that will specifically focus on assisting new business ventures that use the exciting advances in agricultural technology to improve the results of farms and ranches.
“Our partnership with the CRA continues our work with and support of Florida-based accelerators that need proven programs that engage their entrepreneurial community and help create new innovative businesses that build their economy,” said Phil Zeman, Vice President of Community and Economic Development for South Bank and incoming chairman for StarterStudio.
An essential part of the AG Tech Accelerator will be a 10-week program, the Idea Stage Program (ISP) that meets the needs of those in our community who have a great idea or passion for solving a problem but lack the guidance for evaluating the desirability (will customers buy it?), feasibility (can it be built?), and viability (can it make a profit?) of their business idea.
The program is perfectly suited to participants who have a “day job” and want to assess their idea without spending too much time and money or radically changing their lives. Founders will discover whether they should continue moving forward with developing their business, pivot to a different business model, product, or target market, or “keep their day job” because the idea is not worth pursuing.
The range of possibilities include agriculture-related businesses in software, packaging, food products and even nonprofits specializing in food resources. Those who take part in the program will have access to mentor resources from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Florida Polytechnic University, website developers and StarterStudio.
Applications are now open for residents of Polk County. Just visit https://www.starterstudio.org/accelerators-interest-application.
“These resources have an incredible track record and proven success when it comes to the agricultural field,” said Jane Waters, CRA Project Manager. “The end game for Spark Rotation is we help produce business owners in our community who change the world and the future of agriculture.”
For the first cohort, 10 applicants will be chosen. The deadline to apply is Dec. 10. There is a $400 fee for the 10-week industry-specific venture, which begins in January. For those unable to attend in person, they can participate via Zoom. Zoom users will receive the same benefits as those who attend in person.
During the accelerator program, there will also be a “Pitch Night” where investors and the community are brought in to learn more about the products, services and ideas.
“We’re excited to hear some really neat ideas that we hope change the future of agriculture,” Waters added. “Participants are going to be put on a path to success and with investors coming in, could even leave with a business partner.”
Those interested should contact the CRA at 863-421-5577 or CRAinfo@hainescity.com. To learn more about Starter Studio, visit www.starterstudio.org.