Final Five Teams Compete Today to win $7,500

Posted: April 10, 2014

Their products include vine-covered roofs, devices that gauge plant moisture, clothes that mimic the plumage of the ruffed grouse, a natural way to convert farm waste to compost and an organization to help Haitian orphans sell agricultural products.
Final Five Compete Today to Win Ag Springboard 2014

Final Five Compete Today to Win Ag Springboard 2014

Five student teams have spent the last several weeks and months polishing their business concepts and plans for a team of judges. They’ll compete Thursday, April 10, to win $7,500 in the Ag Springboard student business plan competition sponsored by the Entrepreneurship & Innovation program at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. 

Anne Yorks, CEO of Flour Box Bakery, will deliver the keynote at the finalist banquet at 6:30 p.m. at the Nittany Lion Inn.

The Haitian Youth Team hopes to help Haitian orphans sell agricultural products. Carolyn McDonald (pictured at right), of the Haitian Youth team, says her teammates are very involved in international agriculture, which inspired Haitian Youth to create a business for Haitian orphans to sell agricultural products. 

McDonald_Haitian_Youth_AgSpring2014“I was inspired by my teammates’ willingness and excitement to join me in helping [to] find resources for orphans in Haiti.” McDonald, a community, environment and development major, has been traveling to Haiti since the age of 15 and continues to spend her college summers in Haiti serving an orphanage. 

She is excited to continue her efforts to establish change in Haiti and is happy that she has a team to join her, and explains: “I learned that Penn State students care about the world and my team has done their best to make a difference.” 

The Magic Machine team’s concept uses the larvae of black soldier flies to sustainably compost farm waste.

Shurong Li - Magic Machine

Magic Machine consists of graduate student Shurong Li (pictured at right), an animal science major and her partner, Yang Mi, who studies statistics. They use black soldier fly larvae to convert low-value organic materials into protein and fat, to compost farm animal waste, and to ultimately produce a high protein product. “I am so excited that we could make this happen,” says Li, “[as] my major enabled me to see high potential of farm waste composting. We are fond of using our knowledge to find a sustainable, high-efficient and profitable way of production and [to] draw the public attention to farm environmental problems.” 


Ruffed Outdoors makes hunting apparel imprinted with camouflage patterns of the ruffed grouse. The young enterprise raised $18,407 via a Kickstarter crowd-sourcing campaign and showed its prototype camouflage jackets and pants at a trade show earlier this year. Team leader Torin Miller said he’s learned a lot about himself and his partners in their first year of business. 

Ruffed Outdoors

Ruffed Outdoors looked to nature for a new camouflage design.

“My team is the most hard-working, level-headed and determined group of individuals I know. Ag Springboard has just solidified this idea," says Miller. 

As a semi-finalist in Ag Springboard, Miller describes the influence Ag Springboard has had on Ruffed Outdoors, as a whole. “[Ag] Springboard required us to lay our business out on the table and look at it from all angles. It required us to look at where we’ve been, where we want to be, and how to get there. We’re right where we want to be,” says Miller. 

Leafy is developing a wireless moisture sensor for plants.  

Leafy plans to bring the most innovative wireless plant moisture sensor to today’s market. Team leader Amin Afzal, says Leafy’s product offers superior accuracy and water-saving capability, and is very helpful to farmers in places where water is scarce. Afzal and teammates are more than ready to embark on this journey to turn Leafy's idea into a commercial product.





Leafy is on the path to commercialize its wireless moisture sensor for plants. 

“After working on my idea for 10 years, this opportunity has given me a new horizon to aim for and a new viewpoint. This competition helped me to [gain] better insights on business and entrepreneurial aspects of my invention. Now, I feel my technology is closer to becoming a real product,” says Afzal. 

Vine Roofs plans to offer vegetative roofs at a lower-cost than conventional green roofs. Vine Roofs has found a way to create green roofs by using vegetation on rooftops without the structural needs and costs of more traditional green roof systems. Vine Roofs - Julianna Razryadov

The Vine Roofs team greens roofs, for a lower-cost than most green roofs.

Team leader Julianna Razryadov and her teammates are convinced there is demand for the low-cost green roof and service they provide, particularly in urban environments. Reflecting on her Ag Springboard experience, Razryadov adds, “Working with this group has provided me with experience in modeling software, building science, and business organization which has been unique to my educational career.”

The teams have worked hard to bring their entrepreneurial vision to life for the judges. 

Check-in late Thursday to find out which team won top honors.