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The Middle Bit: Week of April 2

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.


Video streaming startup PhenixP2P announced on Monday that it has closed a $3.5 million Series A round of funding. KB Partners led the round, in which all of the startup’s existing investors also participated. built in Chicago

Uptake, led by Groupon founder Brad Keywell, has raised $50 million in additional funding. The new funding brings Uptake’s latest round to $90 million and adds to the $40 million the company announced in February from Revolution Growth. ChicagoInno


The Iowa Credit Union League has sold its majority interest in its Clive-based payments processing company, TMG, to CO-OP Financial Services for $100 million. Business Record

Aging 2.0, a global innovation platform on a mission to accelerate innovate to improve the lives of older adults around the world, is coming to Cedar Rapids on April 12 to highlight the startups focused on the aging population. NewBoCo

The Des Moines-based Global Insurance Accelerator has received the DuPont Pioneer innovationLEADER of the Year Award. Business Record

GoDaddy, the internet domain hosting company announced it is launching GoCommunities, a program to match people starting businesses with tools to help them do so, rolling out the program first in Cedar Rapids. The Gazette


SixThirty, the local business accelerator for tech startups in the financial services sector, has announced five new portfolio companies. St. Louis Business Journal

The Sprint Accelerator announced Monday the seven startups from around the country that it welcomed into its fourth annual program. Startland News


Facebook announced plans to build a massive data center south of Papillion. Omaha World Herald

The Middle Bit: Week of April 2 | 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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