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Kinosol wins $25,000 from Minnesota Cup


Ames-based Kinosol won $25,000 from the Minnesota Cup on Oct. 9 for being the best women-led business, according to a news release Wednesday.

According to the release, Kinosol competed in the Minnesota Cup—the largest statewide startup competition in the United States—last weekend at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center.

During the final round of competition, winners from eight categories such as student, high tech and impact ventures competed for a grand prize of $50,000.

The grand prize winner was MicroOptx, a Minnesota-based company with a solution to glaucoma.

With the grand prize, awards including runner up, best women-led business, best minority-led business and best veteran-led business were given.

Kinosol won the best women-led business and $25,000.

Three of the four Kinosol cofounders are women—Elise Kendall, Ella Gehrke and Mikayla Sullivan—who are working to end global food waste.

Sullivan said it’s wonderful when women are recognized in business because often times, women are viewed as less qualified than their male counterparts.

“They often feel like they don’t deserve the success they’ve achieved and having the support of their communities, strong women and those who champion for equality, are key to equalizing the balance between the number of male and female leaders,” Sullivan said. “It will subsequently help grow the entrepreneurial community and solve some of the worlds largest challenges. It takes a balanced team to accomplish great things.

“No one male or female can do it on their own.”

KinoSol launched in September of 2014 and began delivering its first
product—the Orenda—worldwide in January of 2017. The Orenda is a solar-powered food dehydrator with a storage component, designed to help families in
developing regions to preserve additional food and nutrients.

Over 1,300 entrepreneurs submitted ideas for this year’s Minnesota Cup. The key to selecting finalists was the entrepreneurs ability to make their ideas a reality, according to the release.

For more news on Kinosol, click here.

Kinosol wins $25,000 from Minnesota Cup | 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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