“AgEI gave me the foundation necessary to start my own business. The connections gained through the program and my time at Iowa State have been instrumental to the success of my business, thus far.”
~ Steven Brockshus, Founder & CEO of FarmlandFinder
Steven Brockshus (’17 Agricultural Education and Entrepreneurial Studies) is no stranger to hard work. Growing up on a 5th generation dairy farm, he spent his afternoons feeding calves after school and his weekends milking cows in the parlor. During the busy spring and fall seasons, he and his brothers would occasionally get to skip school to help with field work. An active 4-H and FFA member, he spent his free time prepping his show chickens, cows, and 4-H projects for the county fair.
FFA played a huge role in Brockshus’s life, even influencing his decision when it came time to choose a major in college. He was heavily involved in FFA at not only the county level, but at state and national levels as well. From 2011-2012, he served as the FFA Northwest State Vice President and from 2012-2013, he served as the State FFA President. He took his involvement to the next level when he served as the 2013-2014 National Central Region Vice President.
When it came time for college, Iowa State University proved to be the perfect fit for this accomplished young man. “The first time I stepped on campus during a college visit, it felt like home. When I chose to run for state FFA office, I knew Iowa State would be the place to open doors for me in the world of agriculture,” explains Brockshus. He continued to stay as busy at college as he had been on the farm, leading a men’s Bible study through the SALT Company, serving as a peer mentor in the Hixson Opportunity Awards Program, and volunteering once a week at Sawyer Elementary to tutor students in math and reading.
During the summer of 2015, Brockshus interned with an Ag Tech Start-Up Company called AccuGrain through the AgEI summer internship program. AccuGrain was founded by an ISU alum and former State FFA President, Ryan Augustine. Brockshus credits Augustine’s mentorship and the skills he gained at this internship for providing him with the foundation to one day start his own business.
The summer of 2015 was significant in more ways than one. The idea for Brockshus’s future business occurred to him as he stood beside his dad at a land auction one warm summer day. The auctioneer had only a picture of the farm being sold for interested bidders to view. Brockshus was curious as to why there was so little information available about the land, especially at a time where information is readily available at the touch of a button. This seed of thought, planted in the back of Brockshus’s mind in 2015, was to eventually grow into FarmlandFinder.
Brockshus arrived back on campus that fall ready to learn more. Enrolling in Kevin Kimle’s Econ 334 class, Entrepreneurship in Agriculture, gave Brockshus the tools to clearly understand the necessary steps for business creation. “Getting to work with Kevin Kimle is amazing. He is humble, smart, and deeply cares about the success of every person who walks through his door,” relates Brockshus. He also participated in the AgEI Student Incubator Program during his time as a student, which provided him with a strong support system. “I realized that I wasn’t going at this alone,” recalls Brockshus.
Brockshus started working full-time at his own business, FarmlandFinder, the day after graduation. His company’s mission is to “make land sales simple, instant, and online.” Over the last several years, the FarmlandFinder team has worked tirelessly to reduce friction in the farmland transaction process. And this hard work has paid off. Today, FarmlandFinder is the largest, most up-to-date farmland sales database on the market. They serve landowners and farmland professionals across the entire Midwest.
The road to success hasn’t always been smooth. Brockshus explains that he's seen success through, “lots of trial and error, putting my head down, working hard, being genuinely curious, and empathizing with other peoples' challenges.” One of the biggest challenges he’s faced has been finding the right team members to build products. “Starting a business isn’t easy and it’s not for everyone. Having a deep passion for the problem space your working to solve is essential to sticking it out.” The team has grown over the past twelve months, and Brockshus plans to continue this trend by filling more key positions in the near future.
His closing advice to students and aspiring entrepreneurs is to communicate. “If you have an idea, share it with as many people as you can and prove that there’s a need. You can test things without having any software built – simply get out there and start talking to people,” advises Brockshus.
If you would like to learn more about FarmlandFinder or to connect with Steven Brockshus, you can find him on Twitter @staviebrock or send him an email at email@example.com
(L to R: Brockshus pitching FarmlandFinder in New Orleans, Sharing the story of FarmlandFinder in Silicon Valley, Farmlandfinder awarded the 2019 Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the American Farm Bureau Federation)
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