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AgTech startup Performance Livestock is eliminating paper from the farm

A new software makes it easier for farmers to track how much feed livestock receive.

Ames-based Performance Livestock Analytics uses bluetooth technology to track each pound of food that goes to each animal and each dollar associated with the animal.

Performance Livestock COO and co-founder Dustin Balsley explained that the current way producers track how much of each ingredient goes into the feed wagons, is by paper and pencil.

So along with CEO Dane Kuper, they started Performance Livestock to eliminate some of that work.

“Producers are now feeding with an iPad,” Balsley, 29, says. “They are spending hours each week getting this information collected. So what we do is completely automate that process and are more accurate because the data is being recorded in real time.”

Performance Livestock is a cloud-based web app that launched in January of 2017.

“The response has been phenomenal,” Balsley says. “We are growing faster than expectations. Nobody thought we would take off like we did.

We went full boar and now we are all full time and doing it for a living.

Balsley said both him and Kuper grew up on livestock farms.

Before Performance Livestock, Balsley grew up in Osage and graduated from Luther College. He would teach social studies for three years before going to work at Climate Corporation and another AgTech company in Orange County, California.

The Performance Livestock offices are located inside Research Park at Iowa State University.

“The majority of innovation has happened on the row crop side of things and we feel like we are on the forefront side of innovation,” Balsley said.

AgTech startup Performance Livestock is eliminating paper from the farm | 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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