Gifts add opportunities for entrepreneurial learning
Jack Buendorf ’21 has been talking turkey and isn’t about to quit.
Buendorf is a co-founder of Poultry Patrol, a farm-saving ag-tech venture that uses robotics to track and support fowl health, increasing efficiencies of time and cost for poultry farmers. It’s an opportunity that came about because of a cohort internship program in entrepreneurship that Steve Moksnes ’61 and Billie Slethaug Moksnes ’61 made possible at St. Olaf through their support. Their gift is one of several made through For the Hill and Beyond enabling Oles to explore meaningful careers and vocations including entrepreneurship.
This opportunity has been very much about the people with whom I’ve been able to work. They just handed me the keys and said, ‘Let’s see how far you can go.’ It couldn’t have been a better experience.Jack Buendorf ’21
Buendorf has a long-term interest in investment banking and business advising and was looking for creative opportunities to explore these fields. Kirsten Cahoon ’98, senior associate director at the Piper Center for Vocation and Career, was able to connect Jack with a network of innovators including Jack Kilian at a Wayzata-based incubator Digi-Labs and serial entrepreneur Adam Gettings ’04, who founded Rover Robotics — which supplies the robotic base for Poultry Patrol. Buendorf, who is majoring in economics and mathematics at St. Olaf, is now the numbers and finance guy for the venture. Recently the team had secured matching funds, and was a finalist, for a competitive $500,000 grant from the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research and McDonald’s Corporation.
“This opportunity has been very much about the people with whom I’ve been able to work,” says Buendorf. “They just handed me the keys and said, ‘Let’s see how far you can go.’ It couldn’t have been a better experience.”
You never know in business where the next good idea is going to come from … I think it’s really neat for a liberal arts school to be doing this.Steve Moksnes ’61
For the Moksneses, combining creative thinking with business acumen is key for an education in entrepreneurship. They and fellow alumni, parents, and friends have helped St. Olaf boost entrepreneurial learning through this campaign. Annually the college awards more than $40,000 for student ventures through programs like the Ole Cup and now provides six to ten co-curricular programs each year in entrepreneurship.
“You never know in business where the next good idea is going to come from,” Steve Moksnes says. “I just have a real feel for someone who says, ‘I’ve got an idea I’m passionate about and want to take it further.’ I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to build and experiment with things, and I think it’s really neat for a liberal arts school to be doing this.”