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Middle Bit: St. Louis announces $5 million seed stage fund

Clay & Milk

The St. Louis region created the $5 million “Spirit of St. Louis Fund” to address the seed-funding gap, according to a story Wednesday on

According to the story, the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Cultivation Capital and Twain Financial Partners along with several of the region’s banks created the fund. The Spirit of St. Louis Fund isn’t the first investment the Regional Chamber has made directly into the St. Louis startup ecosystem. The organization has put more than $1 million in capital into several area funds and accelerators.

According to the story, those investments have resulted in nearly $100 million in follow-up capital and the creation of more than 600 jobs.

What else happened


BillingPlatform—a billing software provider—based in Eaglewood, Colo. raised $4 million in funding. Investors include Columbia Capital –


Wise Apple—a direct-to-consumer meal delivery service—based in Chicago, raised $3.6 million in seed funding. Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Levy Family Partners led the round and were joined by investors including Chicago Ventures, Greycroft, BoxGroup and Irish Angels. –


STEAM labs and art gallery to share space in Bettendorf –

Reports of Rockwell Collins acquisition continue –

WATCH: Main Frame studios in Des Moines prepares for its opening – Mainframe Studios


CHT Group acquired ICM Silicones Group, a Cassopolis, Mich.-based maker of specialty silicone materials. The sellers were Century Park Capital Partners and Akoya Capital Partners. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. –


eSports isn’t just for jocks –

Middle Bit: St. Louis announces $5 million seed stage fund | 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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