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New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center recently hosted a five-week virtual, cohort-based venture builder for New Mexico innovators in agriculture. The cohort’s participants saw successes for their businesses which could go on to bolster the economic impact of different agricultural industries throughout the state.
“Over the five weeks, we saw an impressive amount of progress in the companies that participated,” said Dana Catron, director of strategic operations at Arrowhead Center. “They were able to strategically analyze where they want to go with their business, and more importantly, identify what they were missing to move forward. Arrowhead Center was and will continue to be available to help fill those gaps.”
Sponsored by the New Mexico Gas Company, an Emera Company, AgSprint allowed for customer discovery and product/service fit while providing structure, guidance, and access to resources. “The goal is to focus on the early stages of a product or service development, before a business invests significant time and money,” said Catron.
“Under the AgSprint program guidance, we have met with several Hemp farm producers in Las Cruces,” said Geoffrey P. Lewis, co-founder and CEO of HempNotics, LLC. “I am proud to announce that we have partnered with a local Las Cruces farmer and we are in the process of producing CBD-infused animal products for them. They also plan to wholesale purchase our CBD isolate once the extraction part of the business is in full operation.”
During the spring, participants had access to:
•Pre-recorded curriculum, allowing them to learn at their pace and come to the class prepared for a group discussion.
•The Arrowhead Innovation Network (AIN) Enterprise Advisors (EA’s), a network of experts in accounting, intellectual property, marketing, funding, strategy, among others.
•1-on-1 assistance with Arrowhead staff on a weekly basis.
•Micro-grants to address immediate needs.
•Access to NMSU resources (e.g. introductions with faculty within the NMSU system.
•Up to $25,000 in Amazon Web Service Credits.
Curriculum includes topics like investigating product uniqueness, customers and competition, market fit, pivots and tailoring your product, funding and venture capital, the commercialization of technology, digital marketing and specific agricultural marketing.
Industry experts were also invited as speakers at each week’s session. For the 2020 cohort, AgSprint hosted a representative from the Department of Agriculture to talk about the USDA Small Business Innovation Research program; an expert in commercializing technology for the consumer goods sector; a representative from New Mexico’s Department of Agriculture; an expert in Agricultural Business & Marketing; representatives of the New Mexico Bioscience Authority; an entrepreneur and expert in robotics and automation; and a venture capitalist focused on innovation in agriculture.
“At AgSprint’s recommendation we met with Jeff Witte, director of New Mexico Department of Agriculture; Brad Lewis, NMDA Agricultural and Environmental Services division director; and Jason New, NMDA Marketing and Development division director,” said Lewis. “The team gave us great insight on what is going on in the farming community and gave us some guidance and advice regarding our hemp extraction business.”
The collaboration was a success not only through Arrowhead Center’s extended network of experts, but the sprint also enhanced the focus within some of the businesses. “It was a great team-building experience and team cohesiveness strategy. We got a better understanding of the food industry, allies, suppliers and integrated layers that drive value to the industry,” said J.R. Rosillo, CEO of Minerva Robotics, Inc.
To find out more about future sprint programs, visit www.arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/program/sprints/