Darrin Rahn
Home Region

Minneapolis, MN

Undergrad Education

Iowa State University, BS Economics, 2012

Previous Experience

General Mills Inc., Target Corporation, Iowa State University Department of Economics, Rahn Brothers Hay Sales

HBS Activities

Section E Admissions Rep, Marketing Club, Food & Agriculture Club, Retail & Luxury Club, LGBT Student Association

“The people here make HBS the unique experience it is.”

Many people do not think of being a young agriculture entrepreneur as their first business venture. But for Darrin Rahn, making hay was in fact his first foray into business. He was born and raised on a family farm in northwestern Illinois where he was active in 4-H and FFA, commonly called Future Farmers of America. "My brothers and I [Darrin is the middle child of five] wanted to start a business as an FFA project," Darrin explains. "Making and selling hay to local livestock farmers was the original business idea. As the business grew, we began targeting premium horse stables in the Chicago market focused on buying high-quality feed. The word spread, and we were selling top-grade hay across the US by the semi load." 

Darrin continued to work the business through high school and college. At Iowa State, he entered a National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) business plan contest with a big idea to redefine fresh, local produce."We developed a mini cherry tomato plant you could grow on your indoor windowsill, with little light." Not only did Darrin realize that he "loved food marketing," he became captain of the team that took Iowa State’s first first-place finish, and was honored by NAMA as its National Student of the Year.

Taking food and beverages into the future

Through the NAMA experience, Darrin "developed an interest in the demand side—how does food marketing work in a retail and consumer environment?" He spent two-and-a-half years each at Target and General Mills, finding his "lane" in "marketing, with an expertise in food and beverages." After working his way up the food supply chain, from farm-to-fork, Darrin wanted to expand his experience at HBS.

"My goal is to take my unique perspective and set myself up for a long-term career in food and beverage leadership," says Darrin. "By going to HBS, I would surround myself with the best and brightest minds who would push me to think bigger, more globally, and more diversely. The future of the food industry means understanding new markets, transparency, health and wellness, climate sustainability, and big macro responsibilities. HBS would allow me to reflect on the industry’s biggest future opportunities."

"The HBS case method constantly inspires me to debate industry problems such as business transformation and disruption," Darrin says. "We’re seeing food and beverage brands take a more local and mission-driven approach. My interest is in trying to create sustainable solutions within large food companies."

Darrin is giving back as well. "I’m super-immersed in clubs!" In his first year, he’s serving as the Admissions Representative for Section E. In his second year, he will be co-president of the Marketing Club, as well as an active participant in the Food & Agriculture Club, Retail & Luxury Club, and the LGBT Student Association. "The people here make HBS the unique experience it is," says Darrin. "From the sections to the clubs, the classes, the professors, the speakers—it all comes back to the people. It’s two years of intense learning and empathy building at every turn. We’re always challenged to think more intensely, to reflect, to solidify the next chapters in our lives. It’s a transformative experience!"