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Middle Bit: NewBoCo launches Intrapreneur Academy


The Cedar Rapids-based nonprofit organization NewBoCo announced Wednesday that it will launch an “Intrapreneur Academy” and is looking for five to eight companies to participate in the year-long training designed to teach companies four competencies of innovative organizations.

According to a new release Wednesday, NewBoCo staff will work with companies on developing an innovative culture, developing an agile mindset, processes, methods and strategy. The Intrapreneur Academy is designed to help companies get a baseline of their current efforts, then go through in-depth training on the four competencies.

The release said several smaller Cedar Rapids companies have already committed to the first cohort.

Mandy Webber—Director of Innovation for NewBoCo—said they will start programming in April and participants will commit between four and eight hours each month to the Intrapreneur Academy.

“There will also be plenty of additional opportunities such as workshops, events like EntreFEST, lunch and learns and networking groups for free or discounted rates that they can participate in as much or as little as they wish,” Webber told Clay & Milk.

Webber said companies in the first cohort joined because they are looking for practical tools that foster collaboration and innovation.

“Shifting a large organization’s strategy and mindset to be better able to capitalize on innovative marketplace opportunities is a huge challenge,” Webber says. “Intrapreneur Academy will help teams creatively build a culture that embraces experimentation and rapid iteration so that they can truly move the needle on their organizational goals.”

To join the first Intrapreneur Academy cohort, companies can fill out a short interest form on our website or contact Webber directly at

CoJoe coworking opening in Missouri

A new coworking space will open next week in St. Joseph, MO, according to a story in the Silicon Prairie News Thursday.

According to the story, CoJoe was a project spearheaded by the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and will open Jan. 31. The Chamber, as well as a group of local entrepreneurs, small business owners and officials from Missouri Western State University’s Craig School of Business, the City of St. Joseph and Innovation Stockyard, were involved in the planning.

CoJoe will provide meeting spaces, high-speed internet, copy machines, a kitchenette, coffee and workplace community building opportunities.

What else happened…


Havenly—a Denver-based interior decorating and e-commerce company—raised $12.5 million in Series B funding. Foundry Group led the round and was joined by investors including Industry Ventures, Chicago Ventures, and Kickstart Fund. – Tech Crunch

Initial contact reveals Amazon has interest in Denver for HQ2 – The Denver Post


Burger King ad uses Whopper to explain net neutrality – Chicago Tribune


Iowa music scene: 5 Iowa artists to watch in 2018 – The Des Moines Register

Former Iowans get Shark Tank investment into “Guzzle Buddy” – The Des Moines Register


Financing options grow for Minnesota entrepreneurs –


Kansas City gaming startups level up with new venues –

Former Kansas City Chief opens a coworking spa space –



Middle Bit: NewBoCo launches Intrapreneur Academy | 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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