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As a college student, I used the help of the Center for Rural Research and Development (CRRD) at the University of Nebraska Kearney. In 2011 I entered a Business Idea Contest. I learned about the opportunity through a poster in the student union. To prepare for the contest I gathered the prototypes of a product I had developed, the Stoll Tool Socket Holder, and submitted a video (see the link at the end of the story for the video). Although I was a finalist, another business took home first prize. This left me with the sense that my idea could lead to a viable business opportunity.
In spring of 2012, CRRD sponsored a Business Plan Contest, where I entered and submitted a detailed business plan. My entry was accepted as a finalist and I presented at the contest. Once again, I came home with second prize, again, it gave me the confidence that I could be a successful business owner.
The faculty member who I worked with in my research, was Paul Burger, Ph.D., was a great resource not only in my field of study in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), but also as a business resource.
The CRRD also helped me with my marketing research and planning. These resources were available to me as a student at no additional cost. Any student on UNK’s campus who wants to find information about starting a business has access to the CRRD office and the assistance they offer. I recommend contacting business instructors and non-profit organizations that deal with local economic development and rural communities. Read the local newspaper and other publications, especially the articles covering the minutes from city council or county commissioners meetings. This can give a potential entrepreneur much insight in to what is happening with the local economic development scene.
Throughout my college career, I supplemented my coursework with agricultural and other career-minded classes. An important thing for anybody learning anything is that much of it can be learned for free. Whether it is watching documentaries, informational videos, reading articles or scholarly journals, one can become an expert in a field if they want to pursue the information available, especially with the instant access of the internet. For example, I am not an agronomist and have had very little formal coursework on the subject, but I watch a weekly farm show on YouTube and subscribe to many newsletters and publications from other agronomic business.
I am the owner of InSite Precision Ag Services, LLC. We provide precision agricultural data management services in South Central, Southeast Nebraska and Northeast Kansas. InSite is a CropMetrics dealer and I am a CropMetrics Precision Data Specialist. We provide yield data processing, variable rate irrigation, seeding, fertilizer, and remote soil moisture monitoring for irrigation scheduling services. It is very exciting to always be learning and dealing with the latest technology in this very young field.
The lessons learned from these experiences have led me to where I am now, poised to have a very successful 2014.
Nicholas Stoll graduated from UNK with a degree in Geographical Information Systems. He owns InSite Precision Ag Services, LLC.
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