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Drake University Law School is helping startups navigate the legal maze

Drake University

Drake University and the Drake University Law School are offering a workshop Friday morning to highlight legal issues facing business startups and technology related fields.

The event, “Tech Startups: Navigating the Legal Maze” is a Continuing Legal Education event for attorneys but organizers have invited angel investors, startups and founders to attend.

The workshop starts at 8 a.m. Friday at the Neal and Bea Smith Law Center at 2400 University Ave. in Des Moines.

Speakers will present on technology and business topics such as mobile applications, website agreements and privacy issues, entrepreneurial resources and founders agreements.

A panel will also use a hypothetical example of a startup to help guide the audience in “issue spotting.” It will focus on intellectual property issues, product development, designing and maintaining a website and other general issues.

Cory McAnelly will moderate the panel and is an Intellectual Property Attorney for the law firm of Goodhue Coleman and Owens.

He said he was contacted last year about organizing a potential workshop and had just so happened to be returning from a similar event in South Dakota.

“My firm and I know a lot of other firms are dealing with a lot of startups right now, whether it’s technology startups or agriculture startups or whatever it is, startups are a big thing right now,” McAnelly said. “Why don’t we put together a lineup of people who have unique expertise on each of the hot topic areas with startups, focus on technology because almost every startup now has some sort of element with technology.”

The event is sponsored by the Drake Intellectual Property Law Center. Shontavia Johnson, Director of the Drake Intellectual Property Law Center, says lawyers, angel investors, startups and founders are invited.

“The substance will offer a framework for both lawyers and their clients in the mobile technology space,” Johnson said. “While founders are certainly incredibly savvy and resourceful, particularly given the breadth of information found online, this CLE will offer tools for those who may not know what they don’t know to ask.”

Johnson said in addition the event will provide opportunities for professionals to network across disciplines and professional circles.

Anyone interested in signing up can do it here.

Drake University Law School is helping startups navigate the legal maze | 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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