Hunter Swisher, founder of Phospholutions and Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences 2016 graduate, has been gaining notoriety for his ability to penetrate the golf course turf industry’s historically closed off network. Swisher’s root lengthening product, RhizoSorb, has proven results after being tested on Penn State’s White Course, but results aren’t always enough.
“The hardest thing in the turf business is that it’s a very mature industry and it’s really a relationship-based business,” Swisher told Golf Course Industry Magazine. “For me, tapping into that is really hard. I don’t have a turf background. I have a very high technical plant science background, but I have never worked at a golf course. I have learned the lingo and picked it up. It’s been a pretty big learning experience for me.”
Swisher’s persistence is unsurprising when you look at how he’s leveraged the resources available to entrepreneurs from Penn State. Swisher got help on a general business plan from the Small Business Development Center, participated in the nine-week Happy Valley LaunchBox FastTrack Accelerator, the Ben Franklin TechCelerator and received $10,000 to work on his business as part of the Summer Founders Program.
In addition to those resources, Swisher’s ability to leverage the Penn State Alumni network has opened avenues for business that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible. Penn State’s turf grass program is over 88 years and boasts alumni in top positions at golf courses around the world.
“The reputation of the turf program at Penn State and being able to leverage that I’m a Penn Stater helps,” Swisher told Golf Course Industry Magazine. “There are a lot of Penn Staters across the nation at some pretty high-end clubs.”