2017 Competition Judges

Craig Rupp, Director of Engineering, The Climate Corporation

Craig has over 25 years of engineering and entrepreneurial experience. Craig started his career in 1988 as a hardware engineer at Motorola, designing and developing the first GSM mobile station.  He subsequently transferred his talents to Motorola’s Iridium project and became a Lead Engineer, addressing satellite communication issues.

In 1995, Craig co-founded Alliance Technologies Group (ATG), a contract and consulting firm providing RF solutions to the manufacturing industry. In 2000, Craig dissolved ATG and landed at John Deere, designing and developing Deere’s Starfire receiver and Greenstar display. In 2002, Craig re-ignited ATG and focused on providing state-of-the-art RF measurement and generation algorithms for high-volume manufacturing. National Instruments (NI) acquired his company in 2005.

Craig then spent 10 years at National Instruments, becoming a Chief Architect. He architected, designed, developed, and first deployed AM, FM, RDS, Bluetooth, GSM, EDGE, CDMA2k, EVDO, WCDMA, TDSCDMA, and LTE measurement solutions. His actions were seminal in growing NI’s RF business to $130MM in revenue. His success in Q4 of 2011 finally took the company over their $1B hurdle.

In 2012, Craig’s co-founded 640 Labs, a data collection and analytics company focused on agriculture. Craig was the CTO at 640 Labs and lead the company in developing the 640 Drive, a device capable of transmitting both machine and agronomic data to the cloud, and the 640 Cloud, a complex data storage and analytics platform. Craig’s company achieved VC funding and was acquired by The Climate Corporation, a division of Monsanto.

Craig is passionate about technology and is not afraid of adopting new technology. Raised on a farm in northwest Iowa, he earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Iowa State University in 1988 and subsequently earned his master’s degree in 1990 from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He currently has 13 patents.

Craig was a judge for the 2016 agBOT Challenge Seeding Competition.


Kip Tom, Chief Executive Officer and Owner, Tom Farms

Seven generations of Kip Tom’s family have farmed the land in northeast Indiana. A life-long resident of Kosciusko County, Kip grew up on his family’s farm in the community that his ancestors homesteaded in 1837. In 1952, Kip’s parents started out with 120 acres and today under Kip’s leadership, the business has grown to over 25,000 acres with locations in the U.S. and in Argentina. Tom Farms is considered a global leader in agriculture production and an early adopter of new technologies. They have investments in Silicon Valley in agriculture data science companies, partnering with Silicon Valley high-tech corporations. The farm business also manages commodity trading operations across Indiana. Tom Farms has grown to be one of the largest seed suppliers in the U.S. to Monsanto.

Kip is a frequent resource for institutional investors seeking information on trends in the agriculture industry. He has served as a consultant/advisor to more than 60 funds over the past five years and often speaks at investor events in NewYork, San Francisco and Boston. Kip helped bring well-paying jobs to Indiana as a member of the Board of Directors of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels and serving under both Governor Daniels and Governor Mike Pence. During his 12 years of service, Kip was an important part of Indiana’s job creation efforts, which broke records for job creation and attraction nearly every year.

In 2015, Kip turned over daily operations of Tom Farms to the next generation. He now pursues his passion to see that others, regardless of the industry they represent, have the opportunity to live the American dream and build businesses from very modest beginnings. These efforts complement the stated objectives of President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence.

Kip is involved in several philanthropic organizations focusing on food security issues domestically and globally. He has traveled to and worked in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Tanzania and numerous other developing nations.
Kip serves on the board of directors for a number of agriculture-related business organizations – he is a member of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, a trustee of the National 4-H Foundation and a member of the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Foundation Board of Directors. He also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council at Purdue University. The Tom family business has been awarded the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Additionally, Kip has received the National Leader in Agriculture Award from Agriculture Future America (AFA), Indiana AgriVision Award from Governor Daniels, Purdue Apex Award and the U.S. Top Producer Award for Agriculture from Farm Journal.

Kip has an advanced management certificate from Texas A&M in agriculture economics and attends executive business management courses at Harvard Business School.

George Kellerman, Chief Operations Officer & General Partner, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley

Bob Peterson, Chief Executive Officer, Broadband Antenna Tracking Systems, Inc. (BATS)

BATS’ provides a proprietary software and hardware platform that locates, locks and tracks wireless broadband communication access points.  BATS’ enables organizations to rapidly deploy self-healing, fixed or mobile broadband wireless networks over long distances without skilled technical resources.  Bob has 25+ years in leading technology companies from concept to maturity.  Bob graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelors in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Bill Thompson, Owner, Thompson Farms






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