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Middle Bit: Entrepreneurial leadership event scheduled for next month

To make sure aspiring entrepreneurs feel comfortable entering the small business culture the Iowa Center for Economic Success is hosting an entrepreneurial leadership event next month to provide knowledge and relevant tools that can be put into action immediately after the event.

The entrepreneurial leadership event is part of the Aspirant Series hosted by the Des Moines-based Iowa Center for Economic Success. Drake University will host the all-day event.

Megan Milligan is the President and CEO of the Iowa Center for Economic Success and said the event is targeted towards people who already have their own startup, an idea for a business or people looking to rise up as leaders with their corporation or organization.

“Even if you are working for someone else, people who have more of that entrepreneurial mindset often stand a better chance to advance their career and rise up to a leadership position,” Milligan said. “There’s a lot of people who are thinking that way, but we’re trying to empower people who haven’t thought about entrepreneurialism as more of a philosophy rather than just a profession.”

Milligan said what will make this event different is not only will attendees be provided with tools and networking opportunities, but they will start to implement some of those strategies the same day.

“So you aren’t just leaving inspired,” Milligan said. “At our event, you are going to be scheduling those follow-ups and leave with a draft of a pocket business plan and some next steps.”

The Entrepreneurial Leadership event will be from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16 and is limited to 50 people.

“There is only going to be 50 people in the room, so this is a chance to speak with and get resources from some of our biggest business leaders in town,” Milligan said.

To register or for more information, click here.

What else happened…


GitPrime, a Durango-based provider of a software engineering analytics platform raised $10.5 million in Series A financing – FinSMEs


NuMat Technologies, a Skokie-based creator of intelligently engineered systems integrating programmable nanomaterials, closed $12.4 million financing round – FinSMEs


Springbuk raises $20 million for health analytics software – Venture Beat


Shop, an Ann Arbor-based distributed and decentralized commerce platform and tokenized data exchange built atop smart contracts, raised $2 million in funding – FinSMEs


Rally Ventures, a Minnetonka-based venture capital firm plans to raise $150 million for its third venture capital fund –


Firebrand Ventures announces two new hires –


Ready Robotics, a Columbus-based provider of a SaaS-based robotics solution raised $15 million in funding – FinSMEs

Middle Bit: Entrepreneurial leadership event scheduled for next month | 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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