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An Interim Introduction

Clay & Milk is currently seeking an editor to be based in Des Moines, Iowa.

In the meantime, let me introduce myself.*

The advertising and artistic communities know me as Jami Milne. The tech and startup communities know me as Ben’s wife. Welcome to my worlds.

Clay & Milk is looking for someone who can tell the story of the entrepreneurial community in Iowa and the broader Midwest with accuracy and insight. He or she should be able to write about and for the Midwest’s entrepreneurs, artists, investors and broader innovation community, but in a way that grows outside readership and interest.

Until Clay & Milk finds this he or she, you’ve got me.

I can and will tell the story of the entrepreneurial community but the accuracy and insight may come with my angle. I am not a journalist. But I am a writer, the wife of an entrepreneur, the mother of two, an artist, photographer, daughter and a strategist. The stories I seek to tell won’t be told with this slant but they will be discovered with this perspective.

If you have a startup story to tell, we are interested. But we’ll ask more than what you’ve put in your press release. We’ll ask about what makes you, you. Because that’s the only thing that’s your story. That’s a success story. And we want to help tell that.

If you’re an entrepreneur, we are interested. Because we believe in you. You are the backbone of our business development economy. The brave vertebrae that help to hold our collective heads high. We’d like more than a Q&A. We’d like quality time. Over that craft beer you’re all raving about.

If you’re an investor, we’re invested in you. We’re thankful for your readership, your loyalty, your investment.

We’re as interested in your vision for Clay & Milk and innovation coverage as we are your experience. Please send a brief cover letter, a resume and links to up to five examples of your past reporting or writing work to Geoff Wood at

In the meantime, you can reach Jami Milne, the interim managing editor of Clay & Milk at


An Interim Introduction | 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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