Boise’s GenZ advances to global competition for startups

This GenZ sprayer is designed for row crops such as grapes, lettuce or, as shown, strawberries.
This GenZ sprayer is designed for row crops such as grapes, lettuce or, as shown, strawberries.

GenZ Technology, which designs efficient crop-spraying equipment, will compete in the global round of the Challenge Cup business competition.

Challenge Cup judges pick winning companies based on the strength of their two-minute business pitches. Judges weigh a company’s ability to improve the world as well as the strength of its business plan. GenZ says its crop sprayers will offer the same or better coverage using half as much chemical spray as traditional equipment, saving farmers money and reducing pollution.

The contest is run by 1776, a global business incubator and investment fund headquartered in Washington, D.C., where GenZ will compete in the global Challenge Cup competition Monday. The contest’s goal is to “discover the most promising, highly scalable startups that are poised to solve the major challenges of our time,” its website says.

GenZ was one of four companies to advance from a field of 44 in the regional round Thursday in San Francisco. To get there, GenZ was one of three winners advancing from a local Challenge Cup held in Boise in January. Boise company pSIFlow, which is developing a mobile app to speed water-quality testing, also advanced to San Francisco, but not to the global competition.

More than 1,000 companies competed in local Challenge Cup competitions in 45 cities around the world.

Companies at the global round will compete for $1 million in prizes. GenZ CEO Grant Thompson said the Challenge Cup has already given his company inroads with investors.

“I’ve already been approached by a couple of large ag-tech investors who are interested in GenZ,” he told the Statesman on Friday. “I think it’s also a really good morale boost for our employees, because it’s validation that the investment community thinks we’re developing a potentially groundbreaking technology.”

The company, founded in 2013, has seven employees, including co-founder Chase Newman and Thompson. Its office is at South Featherly Way near the intersection of West Victory and South Maple Grove roads.

The local competition was hosted by Trailhead, the Downtown working space and nonprofit that helps startups develop business plans and court investors. Trailhead Director of Engagement Jeff Reynolds said GenZ’s success bodes well for the Treasure Valley and for Trailhead’s 200 entrepreneur members.

“Having an impressive startup like GenZ on the global stage shows potential and current company founders, as well as the rest of the world, how much innovation is happening in Idaho,” Reynolds said.