Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Pocahontas: Starting 1 Million Cups in Northwest Iowa

Pocahontas Iowa

Entrepreneurs in Northwest Iowa are about to get caffeinated.

Starting Wednesday, Pocahontas will join Iowa’s network of 1 Million Cups and host its first presentation at 9 a.m. at Flex Fitness on Main Street in Pocahontas. Colin Hurd—founder of the Ames-based AgTech company Smart Ag—will be the inaugural presenter.

Pocahontas joins Des Moines, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and Cedar Valley as communities with 1 Million Cups chapters.

Brian Dewey is one of the organizers of 1 Million Cups Pocahontas and said there weren’t many community members in Pocahontas who knew about 1 Million Cups.

“We want to foster the ideas that are here and get people to think outside the box,” Dewey says. “Then bring in new businesses to see the value of a small town. We knew that to gain interest early, our strategy was to find cool innovative AgTech companies. We thought since we are agriculturally based community, that would spur some interest.”

Dewey said late last year he pitched his company Koloni at 1 Million Cups at Mill Race in Cedar Falls and said he’s still in contact with people he met that day.

That process made him think, why not do this in Pocahontas and Northwest Iowa?

“We definitely saw a need locally and hopefully trying to inspire new people to jump into entrepreneurship,” Dewey said. “We just want to stir the pot here locally. A group of us got together and we thought why not.”

Dewey said during his pitch in Cedar Falls, the Mayor of Cedar Falls along with several city officials attended.

“We kind of laid the groundwork for a potential bike share launch in Cedar Falls later this summer,” Dewey said. “They saw the value of what we created.

“You start from just one presentation and connect with so many different types of people.”

Going regional

For entrepreneurs in Northwest Iowa, resources are limited Dewey said. So he’s hopeful that by hosting 1 Million Cups in Pocahontas, it will attract community members from different industries.

Dewey says he’s been marketing in neighboring cities Storm Lake, Humboldt and Emmetsburg.

“We are just hoping to create some more resources, relationships and connections,” Dewey said. “Trying to get it to be a regional hub for 1 Million Cups.”



Pocahontas: Starting 1 Million Cups in Northwest Iowa | 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
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now