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Middle Bit: Dwolla announces Monetery; EntreFest announces keynote speaker

Des Moines-based fintech company Dwolla announced Monetery, an event focused on building companies and value in the Midwest.

From 3-6 p.m. on March 20 at the Des Moines Social Club, Monetery will feature three-panel discussions that lead from taking an idea from concept to creation.

“Our vision is to create an event that really connects people who believe in creating value in the Midwest,” Dwolla Head of Marketing Stephanie Atkin said. “Iowa has done so much to help Dwolla, we thought how could we give the Midwest and Iowa a chance to connect with some of these thought leaders.”

The panelists are:

  • Brad Feld – Foundry Group
  • Martina Lauchengco – Costanoa Ventures + Silicon Valley Product Group
  • Molly McCartin – Drive Capital
  • Lesa Mitchell – Tech Stars
  • Chris Moody – Foundry Group
  • Jonathon Triest – Ludlow Ventures
  • Albert Wenger – Union Square Ventures

“And that’s where our panelists are going to provide some great insight,” Atkin said. “Because they’ve actually done it.”

The panels will be led by moderators:

  • Lynn Hicks – Des Moines Register Opinion/Engagement Editor
  • Danny Schreiber – Founding Editor of Silicon Prairie News/Zapier
  • Debi Durham – Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority

In a blog post Friday, Ben Milne—founder of Dwolla—said the structure of Montetery is to discuss company and community creation through idea, seed, fundraising, IPO and after.

Milne said the reason Dwolla focused so heavily on investors is that it’s clear that the midwest has some really meaningful divides between Seed to IPO support.

“Our vision for Monetery, is to create an event that connects people who believe in creating value in the Midwest,” Milne writes. “As various midwest ecosystems are getting built, we are excited to hear from people who have built strong ecosystems in their city in the past or are currently doing so.”

Brian Waller, the President of the Technology Association of Iowa will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Tickets are currently on sale with all of the proceeds going to Pi515, a technology-focused nonprofit organization in Des Moines.

Atkin said they’ve already raised $1,900.

“When we think how are we giving back, this was just one way,” she said. “It’s been overwhelmingly heartwarming to see how many people have purchased tickets. We are thrilled.”

EntreFest announces its keynote speaker

Scott Belsky, Adobe’s Chief Product Officer, was announced as the 2018 keynote speaker for EntreFest on Wednesday.

Belsky founded Behance and served as its CEO until Adobe acquired Behance in 2012. He is a Venture Partner with Benchmark and an early investor in Pinterest, Uber, sweetgreen and Periscope.

EntreFEST is a two-day conference on May 17-18 in Cedar Rapids

To view the complete 2018 EntreFest lineup, click here.

What else happened…


FourKites, a Chicago-based provider of a predictive supply chain platform raised $35 million in Series B funding – The Wall Street Journal

Braviant Holdings, a Chicago-based fintech startup that uses advanced analytics and proprietary technology to make smarter lending decisions, raised $5m in common equity funding – FinSMEs


Adore Your Walls brings an artistic eye to the Des Moines tech scene – SPN


Pizzey ingredients investing $3.2 million –


Capital Innovators announces 2018 accelerator class – SPN

These are the best cities for women in tech – Fast Company


2018 Big Omaha just got bigger – Mahamusic Festival 


Drive Capital Chris Olsen sees the Midwest as the frontier of innovation – VentureBeat


Middle Bit: Dwolla announces Monetery; EntreFest announces keynote speaker | 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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