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Aguirre will lead Clay & Milk

Joey Aguirre

A few years ago my high school English teacher asked me to come and speak with her seventh period creative writing class about having a career in writing. Her students asked me questions related to my job, career in the newspaper business and what my time as a student at Van Buren Jr/Sr High School was like. We met for over 50 minutes and I tried to be as helpful as possible. I even spoke in front of the entire high school and tried to give them any tips that could make them successful after graduation.

But one question from that day that always stuck with me was if I would ever be writing strictly for a website. I remember telling him at some point in my career I probably would but didn’t know who, what, when, where, why or how.

Those questions have been answered. 

Having this opportunity to lead Clay&Milk has been a hard concept for me to grasp. When I interviewed for the position I felt like I was in the scene from “The Social Network” where Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg are sitting in the nightclub. Sean Parker (Timberlake) explains to Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) the potential Facebook has and how useful it could become. Even though we sat at Fongs and not inside a fancy nightclub, my level of optimism matches what Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) displayed in that scene is at the same level for me with this website.

Clay&Milk won’t be Facebook but we will share as many cute videos as possible.  

We hope our work at Clay&Milk helps a new generation of founders and innovators build their companies and ideas in the Midwest so they don’t need to leave. Using the internet to provide a voice and path to discovery, our hope is that big ideas will be built here.

Paypal’s founders have a connection to the midwest, as does Marc Andreessen who helped create the modern web. Even Twitter and Pinterest have deep midwest connections.

Our humility as a region can be counterproductive to helping great ideas be nurtured. Those ideas instead depart to the coasts to find like minds.

We want to change that.

My role though is as a storyteller. And this site is dedicated to telling the stories of the entrepreneur, artist and those in the tech community. A lot is happening in the Midwest that nobody is talking about. Without someone sharing the stories the communities can’t connect and the midwest can’t grow.

So we will talk about it here. We will tell the stories.

Email me at with your stories and your ideas. I’ll run them down and I won’t tell you that you’re crazy. I want to help tell your stories and believe deeply in the mission of our publication.

Thanks for having me. I’m excited to meet you.


Joey Aguirre is the managing editor of Clay & Milk. Send me an email at


  • Julie Cahill
    Posted May 22, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Congratulations Joey! Also, At Iowa State University the first electronic digital computer was invented by John Atanasoff. Delighted to know about you and Clay&Milk! I happen to be a storyteller too (and an entrepreneur). Thank you.

  • Tyler Hakes
    Posted May 22, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Awesome stuff, Joey! I love what you guys are building here and Would love to connect.

    I generally stop through Gravitate every few weeks. :)

    • Joey Aguirre
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 9:12 am

      Give me a heads up Tyler a few days before you are planning to stop by!

Comments are closed.

Aguirre will lead Clay & Milk | 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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