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Gravitate opens its second coworking space in Des Moines

Gravitate Coworking Space

As the coworking space/business incubator Startup City winded down in 2014 various community forums were held around Des Moines to hear what the startup community wanted next for its community.

Geoff Wood—who was coworking in Startup City—attended those meeting looking for a place to continue coworking. He heard a community that wanted low-cost/high density office space, a place for events like lunch and learns or startup weekends and a front door to the startup community, where newcomers can go to find entrepreneurs in town.

He wrote a blog asking if he could get 25 people to sign up, he’d take the risk and start a business.

So when Startup City closed at the end of August, Gravitate opened in downtown Des Moines on Sept. 1, 2014.

“What I didn’t realize then was September 1 was Labor Day,” Wood says. “So furniture companies didn’t deliver so there was like this weird day in between where we had to do some fancy things but we opened and have been growing ever since.”

Gravitate now has four people on the team and close to 100 paying members now. And it just opened its second coworking space in Des Moines on Thursday in the Valley Junction neighborhood.

Gravitate partnered with the non-profit organization the West Des Moines Business Incubator, who leases a building in Valley Junction.

Gravitate Des Moines
Gravitate has over 90 members in its coworking community between the Valley Junction and downtown Des Moines locations.

“It’s better than a coffee shop”

Mallory DuPuy has worked from the downtown Gravitate location for nearly a year.

She moved from Florida last year to work for Insurance Social Media and said the community has helped be more involved around Des Moines.

“The community events that they do, I mean I’m on the Gravitate volleyball team,” DuPuy said. “And they have these other events that people host. It’s just been a really nice way professionally to network and be social.”

Gravitate hosts Game of Throne watch parties on Monday during lunch and other events such as potlucks and visits from outside speakers and organizations. 

Derek Hoy works in an office for John Deere but serves on the board of the West Des Moines Incubator.

He called coworking spaces like Gravitate an, “Integral part to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“It fits a really good niche between people who maybe aren’t grown into a full business but in that starting phase, or just a small enough business that they don’t need a full-blown dedicated space,” Hoy says.

Nate Levis says Gravitate is better than a coffee shop to him because it’s free of distractions.

He’s an independent contractor who can work remotely and said it’s neat how he can reserve conference rooms at Gravitate and has access to printers.

“It’s never busy but it’s busy enough,” Levis explains. “You don’t want it to be crowded but I’ve been impressed with how the downtown one is gone and this new space is nice. It’s going pretty well.”

Editors note: Geoff Wood is a founder of Clay & Milk, who has its office at Gravitate. 

Gravitate opens its second coworking space in Des Moines | 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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