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The Middle Bit: Week of Feb. 5

Each week, Clay & Milk will curate a rundown of startup, tech and innovation news from “the middle.” Check back every Friday for that week’s Middle Bit.


Fintech startup Blooom of Leawood, Kansas raised $9.15 million in an oversubscribed Series B to bolster its online platform to help users save more for retirement. Via Startland News


Lohan LaHive, the former CEO of Chicago-based Belly, has taken over as managing director of Techstars Chicago. Via The Chicago Tribune

Two Chicago-based startups, Rippleshot and SpringCM, announced investment raises. Rippleshot, a fraud analytics company, raised $2.6 million while document-management company SpringCM raised $25 million. Via The Chicago Tribune


A Des Moines man wants to develop flavored tofu and bring it to the mainstream market. Via The Des Moines Register

Ames-based Workiva announced it’s Wdesk platform was a winner in Business Intelligence Group’s 2017 BIG Innovation Awards. Via Workiva press release

The Greater Des Moines Partnership will host a “Raising Capital Seminar” for startup founders at the end of March. Via The Greater Des Moines Partnership


Detroit has “a real shot” of becoming a top top center for tech and startups, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during a Q&A. Via Crain’s Detroit Business

The Middle, broadly

Silicon Prairie News is accepting nominations for its annual Silicon Prairie Awards through Feb. 21. Via Silicon Prairie News


Kansas City, Missouri has released a way for the public to view the data its Smart City Initiative is collecting along a two-mile streetcar stretch. Via Startland News

St. Louis analytics startup CTY was accepted into the 500 Startups accelerator. Via The St. Louis Business Journal


Bugeater Foods, a Lincoln-based food startup, is looking at how it can integrate powder made from crickets into pasta and rice. Via The Omaha World Herald

The World Herald also interviewed three Nebraska entrepreneurs recently accepted into the Pipeline program about Omaha’s startup ecosystem. Via The Omaha World Herald

Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at

1 Comment

  • Paul Greenwood
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Great round up of activity..
    Keep it up guys !

Comments are closed.

The Middle Bit: Week of Feb. 5 | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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