Ag Springboard Can Launch Your Idea

Posted: February 25, 2015

THON began with an idea. Netflix began with an idea. GreenTowers began with an idea. Ag Springboard's $7,500 grand prize can push your idea to be something BIG!

Great things begin with one idea. Then someone pushed it forward.

In 1973, some Penn State students hoped to spice up a dreary, central Pennsylvania February and give back to their community.

In time, that idea evolved into the tremendously successful THON, which has raised more than $127 million to fight pediatric cancer.

In 2012, the GreenTowers team won Ag Springboard with the idea to use the shipping containers pulled by semi-trucks to grow vegetables in an aquaponics system.

Now, GreenTowers is a custom designer of nature-integrated furniture, interiors and food production units.

Ag Springboard was “very much the catalyst that pushed our business idea forward,” says Dustin Betz, of GreenTowers.

“Even though our business plan has pivoted significantly in the last two-and-a-half years, the experience of Ag Springboard was what really galvanized our team to want to actually start a company,” says Betz.

Take your idea for a solution in the agricultural sciences and select a team to help sell it to the Ag Springboard judges — and you can win $7,500 to push your idea forward!

Teams are forming now for the Ag Springboard 2015 student business pitch competition and must register by March 5. Contact Mark Gagnon at

Join us Wednesday for Pitch Camp Coaching Sessions. We’ll help develop your pitch and find teammates, with snacks and refreshments.

Wednesday Feb. 25, 7 p.m., 6 Armsby (across Curtin Road from the Palmer Museum of Art and behind the Patterson Building.)

Wednesday, March 4, 7 p.m., at New Leaf Initiative 243 S. Allen St., Suite 337. This is the final pitch camp coaching session before the March 5 team formation deadline!

Why participate in Ag Springboard? You can win $7,500 (grand prize) or $2,500 to propel your idea, boost your resume, gain valuable experience — and have a lot of fun.

“Ag Springboard gave me the framework to take an idealist business idea and build it into a practical and innovative agricultural business,” says Woody Wilson, who participated in Ag Springboard, graduated in 2012 and now operates Wilson’s Home Farms, a personalized farming service, operating in backyards and businesses.

“I install and manage customized on-site mini-farms that provide homegrown produce to the property owner for their purpose: feeding their family, spicing-up their kitchen, storing for the winter. I enhance these properties with home orchards, cold frames, compost bins and other farming projects,” says Wilson.

Create something new or solve a problem related to sustainability, food, bioproducts, energy, ecosystems, and community development. Pull a team together and tell the story of your solution.

Here is some advice from Mark Gagnon on how to pull a team together.

“Diversify your team,” says Wilson. “The person who understands your technology may not be the best person who can sell it.”

No teammates? Don’t panic, says Betz.
“I wanted to compete, but did not have a team,” he says. “Through pitching my preliminary business concepts to students hanging out at New Leaf Initiative and sustainability-oriented campus clubs, I formed a very multidisciplinary team who were at first strangers, but are now my company’s cofounders and some of my closest friends.”

If you are looking for teammates, join us at the Pitch Camp Coaching Sessions Feb. 25 and March 4, or e-mail Mark Gagnon at or reach out to one of the entrepreneur groups on campus, like New Leaf Initiatve ( or InnoBlue (

Act on your idea — who knows where it can take you?!