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Middle Bit: A popup sale Saturday showcases Iowa’s fashion sense

Iowa Fashion Sale

Iowa’s fashion community is having a sale Saturday night.

The Pop Up Stop Fashion Event is a three-hour sale with eleven different clothing companies from around the Midwest. The Iowa-based companies are:

The sale will be from 5-8 p.m. Saturday upstairs at the Des Moines Social Club.

Hosting an event like this is part of a concept Tyra Watson became familiar with while studying abroad in London during the Apparel, Merchandise and Design program at Iowa State University. Watson graduated from the program in 2015. She said she’s been planning the sale since November and had to actually turn away companies.

“Upcoming emerging brands,” Watson says. “Each of the brands I ended up picking are very much street culture and that’s what they represent. That’s something Des Moines doesn’t see a lot of. There’s a lot of people involved with it and wear it, but nobody knows these brands exist to a bigger spectrum of people.”

Watson works as for Buckle as a visual merchandiser and says Iowa—and the Midwest in general—has an underrated fashion community because of the perception of the state.

“Supporting these brands is what motivated me, that’s what really pushed this and to just grow fashion and the awareness in Des Moines,” Watson said. “It’s such a growing city, why not bring something else that isn’t in the financial, real estate or insurance world.”

She hopes to do more events like this in the future in Des Moines.

Firebrand Ventures raises $17 million seed fund

The Kansas City-based venture capital fund Firebrand Ventures announced it had closed its seed fund at $17 million, $10 million over their initial goal of $7 million, according to on Wednesday.

Firebrand Ventures is led by former Techstars managing director John Fein. According to the story, Firebrand Ventures will invest in ten to 12 Midwest startups per year with an average investment of $200,000.

Its current portfolio of 12 companies includes the Des Moines-based financial technology company Dwolla.

More: Q&A: John Fein starts Firebrand Ventures to help other founders – Aug. 22, 2017

WorkHound to pitch for $100k at Rise of the Rest

The Des Moines-based tech company was selected to pitch for $100,000 at Rise of the Rest in Chattanooga on May 10, according to a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon.

WorkHound is one of eight companies pitching on May 10 and Chattanooga is one of five stops on the Rise of the Rest Tour in 2018. The winning startup in each city will receive a $100,000 investment from the Rise of the Rest Seed fund.

WorkHound developed a platform for the driving workforce to help companies retain drivers and boost profitability.

What else happened…


Threat X, a Denver-based provider of SaaS-based web application firewall solutions for real-time threat detection and neutralization, closed $8.2 million in Series A funding –

Welltok, a Denver-based enterprise Software as a Service company for consumer health, raised $75 million in funding –

Cherwell Software, a Colorado Springs-based provider of enterprise service management solutions, received a $172 million investment from global investment firm KKR –


Medical startup raises $7.5 million –


8-year-old entrepreneur strings together jewelry business –

St. Louis-based venture capital firm wins big in startup deal –


Sotera Medical Corp., a Cleveland-based medical device company developing a novel device for use in cardiac procedures to treat atrial fibrillation, closed initial seed funding in excess of $1 million – FinSMEs

Middle Bit: A popup sale Saturday showcases Iowa's fashion sense | 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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