CALS alum named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list

Mitchell Hora and Daniel J Robison holding a shovel with soil on it

Daniel J. Robison, right, endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, visited Mitchell Hora at his family farm this past summer to talk about the business he has built.

Less than five years after graduating from Iowa State University, Mitchell Hora (’17 agronomy, agricultural systems technology) has successfully started and grown a business that helps farmers take a holistic approach to improving soil health. His notable efforts have earned him a spot on the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the social impact category.

“I’m very humbled and excited to have been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and to bring home this honor to small-town Iowa and to my team,” said Hora, president and chief executive officer of Continuum Ag based in Washington, Iowa.

He shares this honor with co-worker, Brad McDonald, chief operating officer of Continuum Ag, who was named to the list in 2018 under the retail and e-commerce category.

A seventh-generation farmer, Hora knew early on he was going to be an entrepreneur. He started business plans for what would become Continuum Ag during an internship his freshman year at Iowa State. Those plans became a reality in the fall of 2015, during his junior year.

Continuum Ag began as an agricultural consulting company, offering soil sampling and soil fertility recommendations to farmers. It has grown into a soil data management company that considers the physical and biological aspects of soil, in addition to the chemical components.

Seeing a need for a way to track soil health over time, Hora and his team built the soil health data tracking tool, TopSoil. The online platform allows farmers to input data related to fields they own or farm and use that data to make decisions to improve the soil and benefit their operation.

“I want to allow farmers to be innovative and creative in order to leave more money in their pockets that they can invest back into their families and into their communities,” Hora said.

In the process, the business’s work also encourages landowners’ stewardship of soil and water resources.

The network and community Hora built during his time at Iowa State, as well as the guidance from various faculty and advisors, are part of the reason he’s found such success. He recalls reaching out to Kevin Kimle, Rastetter Chair of Agricultural Entrepreneurship and director of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, for guidance in putting together an invoice for a South African client, which involved a different currency.

“Kevin was huge in helping get my company up and going,” Hora said.

“Mitchell is an engaging entrepreneur and has been since I met him while he was at Iowa State,” Kimle said. “He’s at the cutting edge of innovation in agriculture, and we all look forward to what he brings to the industry and the world.”

For Hora, it’s all about collaborations – learning from others and listening to what will bring value to someone else. And going outside your comfort zone to network with people who may be able to help you in the future.

“Leverage the heck out of the relationships you build. Get to know people outside of your major, outside of your department or college and outside of your group of friends,” Hora advised.

Looking ahead, he is excited about where Continuum Ag is going and is quick to credit his team for the progress the business has made.

“It’s been a team effort to make this business a success, I’ve just helped steer the ship,” Hora said. “Everyone around me – they are the reason we’re here.”