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Here’s a list of startups with last minute gift ideas for the holidays

Startup Gift Idea

Anybody else wondering how it suddenly became December?

Just in case the Holiday season snuck up anybody and there’s a need for a last minute gift, Clay & Milk put together a list of startups and local businesses around Iowa with potential ideas.

Here’s our 2017 list of companies:

Dona Bela Shreds

Dona Bela Shreds
The walls inside the Dona Bela Shreds office are covered with shreds.

Using the ends of shirts clothing companies can’t use, Alli Davidson Motoyama founded Dona Bela Shreds in 2010 to create one-of-a-kind neckwear for men or women.

“It’s comfortable fashion,” Alli explained to Clay & Milk back in June. 

In 2016, Des Moines-based Dona Bela Shreds sold roughly 50,000 shreds and reached $1 million in sales.

All shreds are currently on sale.


An example of what comes inside each StemBox.

A company that relocated to Des Moines this summer exposes young girls to STEM activities and mails them a new science kit each month.

StemBox founder Kina McCallister started the company in 2015 as a subscription service where girls ages seven through 12 can sign up for a sophisticated experiment with authentic lab equipment each month.

“When I grew up there weren’t science kits for girls that actually honored their intelligence,” McAllister told Clay & Milk in September. “It’s a lot of makeup, perfume and glitter.”

A new order to StemBox earns 20 percent off and free shipping.

Lil’ Sidekick

Lil Sidekick
An example of the Lil’ Sidekick.

A mompreneur developed the Lil’ Sidekick to end her child’s favorite game at six months old.

Amy Vohs created the Lil’ Sidekick in 2014— six months after becoming a mom— because her son Jaxen was a habitual chucker. The Lil’ Sidekick can adjust to any item and also serves as a toy saver and teether.

It’s now sold at several local baby boutiques, but is sold at Babies R’ Us, Buybuy Baby and Wal Mart.

The Lil’ Sidekick is currently 20 percent off.

Olson-Larsen Galleries

Photographs, prints and dishes are available from the Valley-Junction based Olson-Larsen Galleries. Prices ranging from $90 to over $1,000.

Olson Larsen Galleries
Six of the available items that are for sale at Olson Larsen Galleries.

Other gift ideas from Iowa companies…

Here's a list of startups with last minute gift ideas for the holidays | 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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