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Iowa Startup Accelerator announces fall batch of companies

Two more teams are entering the Iowa Startup Accelerator and its 2017 cohort, according to a news release.

According to the release, the two companies entering the Iowa Startup Accelerator are from Missouri and New York.

Noviqu—a Columbia, Mo. based company—a health and safety training application.

Funeral Direct—a New York City based company—is a website where families can find, book and review funeral homes in their area.

In total there are seven companies in the 2017 Iowa Startup Accelerator cohort; There were six in the 2016 cohort.

Molly Monk, accelerator program manager, said Noviqu and Funeral Direct were both very coachable.

Monk said Noviqu was a finalist for the summer batch of companies and that Funeral Direct was started after the CEO had a complicated and stressful experience trying to book his grandfathers funeral.

“We are very familiar with different mentoring they would be needing,” Monk said of Noviqu. “Funeral Direct is a really energetic team with a good amount of experience. And we really haven’t seen a lot of innovation in that industry and we think it’s something they could do very well. There’s a lot of opportunity with that.”

Both companies will begin the year-long program with a full week of orientation programming to provide insight into what the Iowa Startup Accelerator offers. The teams will be introduced to Agile and strategic planning during the orientation week.

NewBoCo—the Cedar Rapids-based nonprofit powering the Iowa Startup Accelerator—uses Agile to align organizational strategy with performance.

Novique and Funeral Direct makeup the third and final round of investments for the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2017 cohort. Companies from the Spring, Summer and Fall will have the opportunity to pitch their company at Launch Day on Dec. 7 at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids.

Previous coverage

Iowa Startup Accelerator announces its summer cohort

Iowa Startup Accelerator changes program from 90 day to full year program

Iowa Startup Accelerator announces fall batch of companies | 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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