Tips for winning the Challenge

by Linda Janes & Dan Perpich, Vertical Harvest Hydroponics

Vertical Harvest Hydroponics teams (L to R): Dan Perpich, Linda Janes and Cameron Willingham.

We interviewed Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year winners Linda Janes & Dan Perpich from Anchorage, Alaska what made their Challenge application stand out with the judges. Here's what they told us.

  1. 1. What do you think helps make applications and videos stand out to the judges?

The application must be written in a professional manner. Wordsmithing, using full and proper sentence structure, revising and finally reviewing several times for errors and overall narrative flow is extremely important. Likewise, beyond numbers and other hard facts, it is wise to tell the story well - this entails clearly articulating the problem and the solution. More importantly, instead of just describing what you are selling, it is critical to talk about why you are selling it and make it personal for yourself and others. There is an inspirational element in making your application stand out; however once that’s present, it does need to be backed up by market research, current/projected sales figures, product development iteration and timeline, etc. 

  1. 2. What would you recommend to folks working on their FB Challenge application?
    1. Try to get a couple of people, especially ones that don’t know your business, to review your application for thoroughness, clarity and for it’s ability to inspire and compel. As much as it may be tempting to do this solo, try to work on the application with one or two members of the team. Team effort will net greater breadth to the application and will make it a whole lot stronger. 
  2. 3. Did you get any help with your application and video? If so, who helped you?
    1. We did the application ourselves and the video was previously made by a marketing student team at our local university. 
  3. 4. If you could go back, what would you fix in your application?
    1. We would take a bit more time writing it. 
  4. 5. What types of questions did the judges ask you? How did your application and video address those questions?
    1. The judges asked questions related to market demand, scalability, research and development, etc. While the application addressed many of these questions, the video didn’t necessarily do that. The video content was centered around defining the problem and explaining why there is a need for our solution. It was intended to get the audience interested in asking more questions. We believe that should be the purpose of the video.

Vertical Harvest Hydroponics won the grand prize for the 2017 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge and Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award. Linda Janes is the co-founder of Vertical Harvest Hydroponics and Zip Kombucha. Linda previously worked as a military intelligence officer for the Army National Guard. Dan Perpich is the founder of Vertical Harvest Hydroponics. Dan is also a veteran and served in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer.