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The Middle Bit: Week of Feb. 28

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.


Boulder-based oat bar maker BoBo’s has raised $8 million to bolster its national sales. It’s the first time BoBo’s has taken outside money. Via The Boulder Daily Camera

A group of Cuban startup founders have come to Boulder accelerator Boomtown for a two-week program on business development. Via The Boulder Daily Camera.


Subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, including Iowa’s MidAmerican Energy, have tapped Chicago data analytics startup Uptake to monitor some of their wind power operations. Via Chicago Tribune/press release


Salesforce is preparing to bring employees into Indianapolis’ Chase Tower, a move that will have the company’s name glowing over the city. Via The Indy Star


Cedar Rapids firm Syncbak said its streaming platform is now behind 2.5 million hours of live television programming a year. Customers include CBS, Gray Television and TEGNA. Via press release

WorkHound, a company founded by two Iowa entrepreneurs, announced it raised $500,000. Via Clay & Milk


A guest columnist wrote about how Wichita can sustain and grow its entrepreneurial community. Via The Wichita Eagle


Uber brought its ride-hailing service to three cities in Minnesota. Via The Minneapolis Star Tribune


EQStl has spent the last week profiling the growth of The Cortex, a key part of St. Louis’ startup and innovation community. Via EQStl

Kansas City-based AI startup Mycroft entered 500 Startups a few weeks ago and now has a strategic partnership with Jaguar Land Rover. Via Startland News

Startland News profiled Darcy Howe, who is leading the development of investment fund KCRise. Via Startland News


A Forbes contributor made the case for why Ohio is the best state for startups. Via Forbes/Cincinnati Enquirer

Silicon Valley startup Growbots will build its sales team in Cleveland. Via The Cleveland Plain Dealer


A Milwaukee woman has started a baked goods delivery service out of her home and is making progress that being held at gunpoint didn’t stop. Via The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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

The Middle Bit: Week of Feb. 28 | 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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