OKFB’s Fall 2024 Oklahoma Grassroots Rural and Ag Business Accelerators Activate Oklahoma Cohort Open for Applications!

Amarie Bartel speaking at the first Oklahoma Grassroots Rural & Ag Business Accelerators Demo Day in December of 2023.
Listen to Reagan Calk talk with Amarie Bartel about OKFB’s fall 2024 Oklahoma Grassroots Rural and Ag Business Accelerators Activate Oklahoma cohort.

Applications are now open for Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s fall 2024 Oklahoma Grassroots Rural and Ag Business Accelerators Activate Oklahoma cohort. Associate Farm Editor Reagan Calk had the chance to visit with OKFB’s Rural Economic Development Coordinator, Amarie Bartel, about program details.

Oklahoma Grassroots Rural and Ag Business Accelerators program is a program designed to empower and come alongside Oklahoma’s rural and agricultural business innovators,” Bartel said. “We work with anyone from a community of 50,000 individuals or less, and we work with companies as early as the ideation stage. If you have an idea on a napkin or maybe a prototype sitting in the shop, you are a great fit for us. We scale to working with companies as advanced as early revenue stages.”

Baseline rules are simple, Bartel said, as applicants simply must come from a community of 50,000 or less. The application process is cost-free, Bartel added.

“The state of the company is of lesser importance to us,” Bartel said. “We just want to be a resource that can come alongside and equip Oklahoma’s rural founders, so they feel supported to continue to do great things for our state.”

The Activate Oklahoma track is designed for any rural-based business with an innovation or product that will bring economic opportunities to Oklahoma’s rural communities. Activate Oklahoma applications are open now through August 2! To apply to the 2024 Activate Oklahoma Fall Cohort, visit https://www.okfarmbureau.org/acceleratorapp/.

“Our program is what we describe as a boot camp, a pre-accelerator, and an accelerator combined,” Bartel said. “Basically, what that means is we start with an early-stage curriculum, and we scale up to a more advanced curriculum over time. We want this to be accessible to founders, and we want to build them on a firm foundation.”

Through classroom-style learning, Bartel said founders have the opportunity to grow their knowledge of market opportunities, customer discovery, intellectual property, and more. Another priority of the program Bartel mentioned is growing each founder’s network.

“Some of the stages of our curriculum involve connecting them with mentors or connecting them with a small business development center advisor, which is one of our cherished strategic partners,” Bartel said. “We use a combination of both classroom-style learning and hands-on learning where we bring in experts to help the founder feel supported to move through the curriculum.”

To finish the program off, Bartel said founders will have the chance to pitch their business plans on a demo day to a room full of real investors. Bartel noted that funding is not guaranteed, but the opportunity to connect with funding decision-makers is guaranteed.

“We want to expose them to a room full of opportunities where they can network and choose the investing mechanism that is right for them,” Bartel said.

Bartel also talked about the AgCelerate Oklahoma pipeline, which is open for applications in January of 2025.

The AgCelerate Oklahoma pipeline, formerly Cultivate Oklahoma, focuses on innovations and technologies that have an on-farm or production agriculture application in an effort to diversify opportunities for farmers with a farmer-focused and farmer-led development program. The AgCelerate Oklahoma track prepares businesses to apply for the AgLaunch365 national accelerator program, which offers assistance with on-farm innovation testing and more. For founders who aren’t quite ready to hit the national stage, AgCelerate Oklahoma can be a launchpad for an agriculturally-enriched version of our Activate Oklahoma program.

Oklahoma-based innovators and businesses can apply to participate in either track, and successful applicants will become part of the pipeline cohort that best suits their innovation. Each track includes a multi-day hybrid development session for cohort members, followed by additional programming.

To learn more about the Oklahoma Grassroots Rural and Ag Business Accelerators program, visit https://www.okfarmbureau.org/accelerator/.

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