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Wood: Iowa Startup Power Rankings for April

Iowa Startup Power Rankings

It’s the last day of the month so I’m squeezing these in just under the wire. I know, I know—but it’s been a busy month.

If last month’s sports-style metaphor opportunity was to present the March rankings in the form of a tournament bracket (which I didn’t think far enough ahead to do) then this month’s sports-style metaphor opportunity is to set them up like the NFL draft (yep, didn’t think far enough ahead to do that, either).

I’m not sure what the right sports-style metaphor is for May but if we can find one, I’m committed to trying it out! Feel free to leave a suggestion below and (fingers crossed) I’ll get the chance to implement it. #SportsStyleMetaphor

Before we start, a quick reminder of the rules:

  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 March 2018.

April  Power Rankings

1) Rantizo (Iowa City)

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

Rantizo is a precision drone spraying company that had a big month in March taking first place in the Ag Launch Accelerator pitch competition at the Farm & Gin Show in Memphis, Tenn. En route to their victory, the judges gave them the nod over several AgTech startups well known in the Iowa community including AgriSync, SwineTech and Iowa AgriTech Accelerator alumni HintechAg and Rabbit Tractors.

MORE: Rantizo: Precision drone spraying – April 11, 2018

2) PowerPollen (Ankeny)

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

Next up in the rankings this month is Ankeny’s PowerPollen, LLC, an AgTech company “develops technology to preserve and apply pollen”. PowerPollen took the number two spot this month in recognition of their award of a $300,000 loan from the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s “Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund” on March 23. The funding is targeted for use in refining their product and continued development on their IP.

MORE: PowerPollen: An AgTech startup turning a problem into a solution – Jan. 22, 2018

3) Orchestrate, LLC (West Des Moines)

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

Orchestrate, the developers of workflow automation tools for the Salesforce platform, was acquired on March 26 by Colorado-based Conga. Congratulations to the team on their exit (terms not disclosed) and their third-place ranking this month.

MORE: Orchestrate: What went into its acquisition by Conga – April 18, 2018

4) Actworthy (Iowa City), Kho Labs (Des Moines) and Cedar Rapids Marketplace (Cedar Rapids)

This is Actworthy, Kho Labs and Cedar Rapids Marketplace’s first appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

Here’s a first: we have a three-way tie for fourth place! The three companies were all accepted into their most recent cohort at the Iowa Startup Accelerator in Cedar Rapids this month (along with Chicago-based Codemoji) which means a $20,000 investment form ISA’s fund and a new 12-month adventure in growing their companies. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these three show up again in future Power Rankings.

MORE: Iowa Startup Accelerator announces Spring 2018 cohort – March 20, 2018

5) 1 Million Cups — Des Moines (Des Moines)

This is 1 Million Cups — Des Moines’ first appearance in the Iowa Startup Power Rankings

1 Million Cups rounds out the rankings this month in recognition of their speaker on March 14: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. She didn’t dive in on any of the issues that the community submitted beforehand (while disappointing, that’s what I expected in this type of format in an election year) but she did make the effort to be there and shared the positive side of what’s building in with our entrepreneurial community. That’s more than enough to earn 1MC the final spot this month—good work 1MC organizing team.

MORE: 1 Million Cups: Talking entrepreneurship with Gov. Reynolds – March 14, 2018

Geoff Wood is a co-founder of Clay & Milk and 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 March – March, 22, 2018

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 April | 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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