WHO WE ARE

A Partnership that Grows Progress

AgLaunch envisions a transformed regional agriculture and food economy centered around farmers, innovation, and equity.

AgLaunch attracts, creates, and grows agtech startups, facilitates the development of new agriculture and food value-chains, and builds collaborative farmer networks, with a commitment to intentional inclusion.

Our Team

When it comes to innovation and agriculture, our roots run deep. Learn more about the AgLaunch Team and our passion for fostering a diverse array of innovative agricultural solutions.

Pete Nelson
Pete Nelson
President/Executive Director

Before leading AgLaunch, Pete worked for twenty years as a small farmer, consultant, speaker, writer, and entrepreneur focused on creating farm-based innovation models.

Pete graduated from the University of Memphis with a B.A. in English and lives in an intentional Christian community in Memphis, Tennessee, with his wife and three daughters.

Pete Nelson
President/Executive Director
Margaret Oldham
Margaret Oldham
Business Development

Margaret forged a career in agriculture with two major agchem companies, an experience sharing marketing company and serves in a business development capacity with AgLaunch.

She has worked with clients to implement marketing strategies in animal health, crop protection and specialty crop segments. She is known as an innovative problem solver with the ability to take an idea from origination to standard operating procedure.

Margaret Oldham
Business Development
Schuyler Dalton
Program Development

Schuyler graduated with a degree in Agricultural Science from Cornell University. Since moving to Memphis, she has worked at a few local non-profits, gaining experience and honing her skills in community engagement, operations and program management. Schuyler has worked on farms both domestically and abroad, and has professional interests in agriculture, nonprofits and innovation.

Schuyler Dalton
Program Development
Rebecca Kaufman
Rebecca Kaufman
Strategy + Engagement

Rebecca is dedicated to the Delta region. She has served as the Director of Policy and Research for the Delta Regional Authority, specializing in rural community development and entrepreneurship. As a practicing attorney in Arkansas, she has focused her work on consumer protection. Rebecca also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Mississippi. Rebecca grew up in Fairview, Tennessee.

Rebecca Kaufman
Strategy + Engagement
Samuel Brown
Samuel Brown
Executive in Residence

Samuel is a chemist and registered U.S. patent attorney who has a broad range of experience in matters involving patents, trade secrets, trademarks and licensing issues. He grew up in rural Arkansas and has a strong interest in the development and commercialization of new agricultural technology. His work experience has included teaching at Tennessee State University and serving in the legal profession at Husch Blackwell.

Samuel Brown
Executive in Residence

Our Board

Caroly Hardy
Carolyn Hardy
President/CEO Chism Hardy Investments, LLC Henderson Worldwide Investments, LLC (a/k/a Henderson Transloading Services)

Carolyn Hardy is a graduate of the University of Memphis where she received her BBA and MBA. She is also a certified public accountant (CPA). She gives back to the community through various community organizations including the Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare board and Philanthropic Black Women of Memphis. She is married to Marino Hardy, and they are the proud parents of Jennifer, Whitney, and Christopher.

Carolyn Hardy
President/CEO Chism Hardy Investments, LLC Henderson Worldwide Investments, LLC (a/k/a Henderson Transloading Services)
Daniel B. Hatzenbuehler
E. Ritter & Company

Daniel B. (Dan) Hatzenbuehler is the recently retired Chairman and CEO of E. Ritter & Company. Through its corporate subsidiaries, E. Ritter is engaged in agribusiness and rural communications, operating throughout northeast and north central Arkansas and west Tennessee. Prior to joining E. Ritter in 1998, he was a partner with Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, Memphis, Tennessee, concentrating in securities and mergers and acquisitions.

Daniel B. Hatzenbuehler
E. Ritter & Company
Andrew R. McCarroll
Andrew R. McCarroll
General Counsel for Southeastern Asset Management, Inc.

Andrew R. McCarroll serves as general counsel for Southeastern Asset Management, Inc. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Doctor of Jurisprudence from Vanderbilt. Mr. McCarroll serves on the boards of Memphis University School, The Pyramid Peak Foundation, and The Poplar Foundation, and also volunteers for a number of organizations. He and his wife Anne have two daughters, Josie and Izzie.

Andrew R. McCarroll
General Counsel for Southeastern Asset Management, Inc.

Our Mentors

Take your concept to the next level by learning from experienced professionals who have blazed numerous trails with accomplished and successful startups. Learn more about our mentors.

Our History

AgLaunch was conceived based on recommendation 3.3 in the TN Governors Rural Challenge 10 Year Plan developed through a mandate given by Governor Bill Haslam to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the Tennessee Farm Bureau, and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture in 2012. Based on this recommendation a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Memphis Bioworks Foundation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to coordinate the startup and implementation of a statewide initiative focused on creating new companies and innovative approaches for farmers in the state.

The Memphis Bioworks Foundation and the 501(c)(3) organization focuses on economic development in life sciences including food, health, medical, and agriculture. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture coordinates regulatory, market development, and other support programs for the agriculture industry in Tennessee. They were joined by the USDA Rural Development, the Delta Regional Authority, and Economic and Commmunity Development to play vital roles in funding the initial stages of AgLaunch.

Although operated through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, AgLaunch was designed to complement the efforts of Launch Tennessee – a statewide entrepreneurship organization.

Over the last several years, AgLaunch has grown to support multiple companies and initiatives across the state and has expanded its vision to focus on growing regional economies based around agricultural innovation including agritech and new value-chain creation.

AgLaunch was included in the TN Rural Task Force recommendations completed in 2016.

Today, the AgLaunch initiative is led by an incredible, diverse team and is supported by a broad group of public and private partners. Fully realized, the AgLaunch movement will attract billions in investment, stimulate the creation of hundreds of new companies, create meaningful education and career opportunities, and work to ensure all citizens in the region have access to healthy food.

What We Believe

Agriculture and food can transform the economy and create new opportunities for those who have traditionally made their living in the sector and for new entrants with novel ideas. Technologies that can quickly and reliably help farmers make solid decisions – using less water, less land, and few inputs – are vital to the future of farm and food sustainability.

AgLaunch is focused on making Tennessee and the surrounding region a globally recognized place for starting and growing innovative agricultural initiatives to solve global problems & create local opportunities. This is a transformational vision which will require significant public and private investment over the next decade.

AgLaunch believes that Tennessee and the surrounding region is emerging as a new model of how to create new opportunities for farmers, alleviate poverty, stimulate new minority businesses, improve soil health, and scale new food systems through reimagining the food and ag sector which already has over 66,000 farmers and 1,000 companies but lacks an innovation ecosystem, connectivity, and imagination.

Our Partners

Winrock International
Vanderbilt University
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
University of Missouri
University of Tennessee at Martin
Tennessee State University
Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Start Co.
Southeast Missouri State University
SizzleTech
Ritter Agribusiness
Point A Consulting
Oxbos Agriculture
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center
National Black Growers Council
Murray State University
Mid-south Minority Business Continuum
Mississippi State University
Mid-South Family Farms
Memphis Tilth
Memphis Bioworks Foundation
Memphis Regional Chamber
Memphis Area Association of Governments
Life Science Tennessee
Launch Tennessee
Lawrence Group
The Kitchen Community
Knoxville Entrepreneur Center
Karen Karp and Partners
Invest Midwest Venture Capital Forum
iSelect Func
Innova Ag Innovation Fund
Indigo
Green Leaf Learning Farm
Global Action Platform
Farm Credit Mid-America
Fall Line Capital
EPIcenter
Delta Regional Authority
Delta Council
Cumberland Emerging Technologies
Cultivian Sandbox Ventures
Communities Unlimited
Baker Donelson
Arkansas State University
Archer Malmo
Agricultural Council of Arkansas