AI-Powered Platform for Farmers, Gardeners wins 2024 J Terrell Brown Venture Challenge

April 19, 2024

Three teams for LSU students hold large cardboard checks displaying the money they just one in an entrepreneurship pitch competition.

2024 J Terrell Brown Venture Challenge finalists show off their prize checks. From left to right: FarmSmart (1st) Julius Pallotta, Colin Raby and Grant Muslow; Eternal Exchange (2nd) Ellen Frye and Flickleball (3rd) Connor Pittenger, Joseph Wampler and Delaney Peppito

– Photo: Bret Lovetro

BATON ROUGE – FarmSmart, an AI-powered platform connecting modern professional farming and recreational gardening communities to tailored, high-quality information on crop management, won the 2024 J Terrell Brown Venture Challenge. The first-place finish came with a $20,000 award.

The founders are Grant Muslow, a computer science and computer engineering major; Julius Pallotta, a biological engineering major and Colin Raby, a mechanical engineering major. The seeds for FarmSmart were planted last fall in HNRS 3035: Large Language Model (LLM) Development and Deployment for Real-World Applications. The course allowed students to work with real-world problems in interdisciplinary teams to create solutions with LLMs. It was taught by LSU Executive Vice President and Provost Roy Haggerty with James Ghawaly, senior research scientist AI & machine Learning in the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute and Henry Hays, CEO of DisruptREADY. 

The J Terrell Brown Venture Challenge, held by the LSU Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute, is an annual business plan pitch competition open to all on-campus students in the LSU system. Students must submit an application and a two-minute pitch video explaining their existing business or idea for a new venture. Entrants selected as semi-finalists prepare an executive business plan. Plans are evaluated, and three finalists are chosen to pitch live to a panel of judges. This year's prize pool was $35,000.

In second place was Ellen Frye, an entrepreneurship major. She won $10,000 for Eternal Exchange, a direct, streamlined platform that redefines the burial plot market by ensuring clients have a simplified and dignified transaction experience. 

In third place, receiving $5,000, was Flickleball, an immersive tabletop football game with an elevated and tilted realistic football field using cups and foam footballs to create realistic game scenarios. The founder is Joseph Wampler, an interdisciplinary studies major. Delaney Peppito, a studio arts major, is the art director. Connor Pittenger, a natural resource ecology and management major, is the game development director.

"The J Terrell Brown Venture Challenge showcases the ingenuity of student entrepreneurs," said Jared J. Llorens, dean of the E. J. Ourso College of Business. "We are proud of the Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute's efforts to guide students throughout the process and grateful to those who back this competition. Small businesses make up 99.5 percent of Louisiana's enterprises. LSU is at the forefront of supporting the state's economic prosperity by offering entrepreneurial programs and business education."

The competition has played a pivotal role in launching successful businesses. Mallard Bay, an online marketplace for hunting and fishing trips, earned third place in 2021. The company recently announced the closure of its $4.6 million funding round. Suds Laundry Service, an app that offers the pickup and delivery of quick laundry services for commercial and residential customers, won second place in 2019. Suds received $75,000 at the 2023 Demo Day, an event hosted by Pharrell Williams' nonprofit Black Ambition.

For more information about the competition, which is made possible thanks to the generous support of the J Terrell Brown family, visit

About Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute

The mission of the Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute is to promote and foster entrepreneurial practices through education, outreach, and research. An integral part of LSU's E. J. Ourso College of Business, the SEI utilizes its various programs and other means to address entrepreneurial challenges and positively impact students, the regional economy, the state of Louisiana, and the nation. A generous donation by LSU alumni Emmet and the late Toni Stephenson made the continued development of the college's entrepreneurship institute possible.