Wood: Iowa Startup Power Rankings for February

Iowa Startup Power Rankings Each month Clay & Milk publishes the Iowa Startup Rankings. Illustration by Nathan T Wright.

The time has come to officially debut the reconstituted Iowa Startup Power Rankings in their new home here at Clay & Milk.

I’m very excited and I’m sure you are, too, but before we begin, here’s a quick reminder of the rules straight from the League Office:

  1. The Power Rankings are completely subjective and don’t actually mean anything. I’m doing this for fun.
  2. I’m not picking winners. I want to see everyone succeed and this community grow. If you don’t agree with a particular pick or think I missed something, feel free to debate it in the comments.
  3. I’m pretty good at picking up startup news from across the state but I don’t catch everything. If your startup is doing something great this month, let me know about it.
  4. I’ll usually pick companies but I reserve the right to substitute in individuals, events, organizations, fun YouTube videos or anything else that makes sense to me at the time I’m putting them together.
  5. Standard “King of the Hill”-rules apply, you retain your ranking until someone unseats you.

This post recognizes the achievements of companies and related organizations within the orbit of the Iowa startup community in the month of January 2018. Everybody ready? Let’s go.

February Power Rankings

1. Hatchlings (Des Moines)

This is Hatchlings’ first appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

Hatchlings, a social gaming company, vaulted to the top spot in these rankings largely because they were named the Top AR App of 2017 by Product Hunt in their annual Golden Kitty Awards in January. Haven’t heard of the Golden Kitty Awards? Me either. However, that doesn’t diminish Hatchlings’ achievement in designing and marketing their Magic Sudoku app last year. The app, which will almost instantly solve any Soduku puzzle, was built to show off the AR possibilities available with Apple’s most recent mobile devices and was covered everywhere from The Verge to KCCI.

The company also just celebrated its 10 year anniversary, prompting some folks to question whether or not it was still considered a startup and therefore eligible for these rankings. The matter was referred to the League Office and since no official definition of “startup” exists the ruling on the field stands.

Congratulations Hatchlings.

2. SwineTech (Cedar Rapids)

This is SwineTech’s third appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

SwineTech, the team that is on a mission to save baby piglets from being crushed by their mothers, took the second spot in the Power Rankings this month after being named the national. “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the American Farm Bureau Federation at their recent meetings in Nashville, Tenn. SwineTech beat out 470 other applicants for this title and continues the winning tradition of Iowa AgTech startups seeking this particular recognition.

The $30,000 they netted in prize money (a/k/a “equity-free funding”) is a nice bonus.

3. Guzzle Buddy (Medford, Oregon)

This is Guzzle Buddy’s first appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

In a bit of an upset, the third place company in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings isn’t even based in Iowa. Guzzle Buddy—out of Medford, Oregon—is a large wine glass that you can attach to the end of a wine bottle. It’s on the list because its founders are originally from the Warren County community of Carlisle, just southeast of Des Moines. Randy Rothfus and Jennifer Brick-Sullivan, the two Iowa-expats who own the Guzzle Buddy, took their wares to Shark Tank and agreed to a $400,000 investment from reality show investor Daymond John in exchange for a 25% equity stake in the company. By the way, Guzzle Buddy profited $1.4MM in just 10 months of sales last year (according to the Des Moines Register).

In non-related Shark Tank news, Barbara Corcoran and Kevin O’Leary, two of the show’s other celebrity investors, were in the Des Moines area giving speeches at events last week.

Must’ve been Shark Week.

4. Iowa State University Startup Factory (Ames)

This is the Iowa State University Startup Factory’s first appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

Two accelerators in our state announced new cohorts in January and vied for the fourth spot in this month’s rankings. However, the Startup Factory ultimately edged out the other with style points added in since they also announced an expansion of the Ames-based the program with three remote sites: Sioux City, Spencer and Austin, Minn. All in, the program counts 27 companies in this cohort, but company names have yet to become public.

Why the secrecy? “Various confidentiality reasons” reported the Ames Tribune.

5. Global Insurance Accelerator (Des Moines)

This is the Global Insurance Accelerator’s second appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

Truly a “global” program, eight companies from three states, the District of Columbia, Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico made the move to Des Moines last month to join the Global Insurance Accelerator for their fourth annual cohort. The size of the cohort is an expansion for the GIA program, too, which is currently serving two more startups than it did in each of its first three cohorts. Eight new companies in our startup community is noticeable growth, even if they’re only here for the required 100 days of the program.

Welcome new friends—you picked the perfect time of year to experience Des Moines.

Geoff Wood is the co-founder of Clay & Milk and the founder of Gravitate, a coworking community and entrepreneurial support organization in Des Moines. He’s been telling the story of the Iowa startup community since 2009.