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Wood: Iowa Startup Power Rankings for March

Iowa Startup Power Rankings

The Iowa Startup Power Rankings are back for month two!

If I’d had more time and creativity I’d have presented the March rankings in bracket format. However, since this NCAA basketball season was such a disappointment for most Iowans (and the tournament even more so) it wasn’t worth the effort. Better luck to all involved next year.

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 February 2018. Everybody ready? Let’s go.

March Power Rankings

1. TapOnIt Mobile Deals, LLC (Davenport)

This is TapOnIt Mobile Deals, LLC’s first appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

TapOnIt, a text-based advertising platform based in the Quad Cities, landed the top spot this month after news that had come to terms with a strategic investor, New York-based New Media Investment Group. While they say their specific terms don’t allow them to disclose financial details of this transaction—New Media Investment Group now owns a 20% equity stake—the company has reportedly raised $3 million total in investment capital since its 2015 launch.

Congrats on your new investor, TapOnIt, and congrats on your first appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings.

More: Sisters generate deal to push startup beyond Iowa – Feb. 12

2. GlobalVetLINK (Ames)

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

GlobalVetLINK, a 17-year-old software company serving the animal health industry from Ames raised their first investment round this month securing growth stage funds from Lead Edge Capital.

Like TapOnIt, GlobalVetLINK’s investment dollars came from New York City and the financial terms were not disclosed. The company did disclose that Lead Edge Capital will take 3 seats on GlobalVetLINK’s board.

Due to the age of the company, it’s a bit of a stretch to think of GlobalVetLINK as a “startup” but this seems like a big evolution and the League Office ruled in their favor.

More: GlobalVetLINK announces investment from Lead Edge Capital – Feb. 16

3. Magic Tee (Ames)

This is Magic Tee’s first appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

Third place on this months list is actually a side project for four “little league dads” from Ames.

The company is Magic Tee and they’re in the prototype phase of developing a baseball tee that holds the ball from above via suction rather than below via gravity. This is important for baseball reasons. Specific to February, the fatherly foursome launched a Kickstarter campaign and marketing blitz that hit everywhere from WHO-TV to Sports Illustrated.

Straight out of the gate it did well but could use some help getting to its ambitious $70,000 before it closes in the next few days.

More: Professionals share their passion project – March 7

4. Kitchen Council (Council Bluffs)

This is the Kitchen Council’s first appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

Iowa’s first food startup incubator has been cooking for more than a year but officially opened its doors in Council Bluffs this month and that is why the Kitchen Council comes in at #4.

The goal is to have all sorts of food-related companies in the program, “from those working on products to food truck and traditional restauranteurs”. They have three companies committed for their first cohort (or should that “first course?”) and they have ambitious plans to scale to as many as 25 companies by year’s end. I’m all for that.

More: Food startup incubator opens in Council Bluffs – Feb. 7

5. Hatchlings (Des Moines)

This is Hatchlings second appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

February was a short month and short on big news out of the startup community so Hatchlings, last month’s top company, inherits the spot due to League Rule #6, and their innovative work with iOS’s AR and facial recognition technologies.

Congratulations and good work.

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.

Previous coverage

Iowa Startup Power Rankings for February – Feb. 8, 2018

The return of the Iowa Startup Power Rankings – Jan. 23, 2018

Wood: Iowa Startup Power Rankings for March | 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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