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Scouting Report: Death Ball brings soccer and wizardry to the arcade

Death Ball

The cost of starting a company is what attracted Tony Hauber and his wife back to his hometown in Northeast Iowa from San Francisco last Spring.

Hauber is the designer of Death Ball, an arcade wizard video game that involves aspects of soccer. He has three cabinets in the market going through testing. Then later this year, Hauber he will have a booth at the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee to try and sell ten units of Death Ball and provide an infusion of capital to the company.

“There are all these new arcades around but no new content for them,” Hauber explains.

Here’s the scouting report on Death Ball, and the third part of a three-part series on the video game community in Northeast Iowa:

Midwest advantages

Last year at this time Hauber says he was the director of engineering for a startup in San Francisco when he married his wife and moved back to Elkader, his Northeast Iowa hometown.

“There are trade-offs,” Hauber says. “This was the first winter I experienced in more than a decade. And rural Iowa, there’s not a lot of food variety. But the community here is really behind people who are trying to do interesting things.”

And then the cost of doing business in Iowa compared to the West Coast too…

Hauber said he does 20 hours of contracting a week and spends the rest of his time working on Death Ball. He works out of the local cafe and builds his Death Ball cabinets in town at a sign and frames shop. Then a feature in the Clayton County Register helped further spread the word about what he’s working on.

“My whole goal is to build a model for how to be an entrepreneur in a rural town,” Hauber says. “To show people it’s possible.”

Creating a community

Hauber hopes to replicate the dart and pool league atmosphere, only with video games.

“My game is designed to be fun to watch, fun to play and quick so people can rotate through,” Hauber explains. “It’s all about building a little community around a box. Video games have been pushed into living rooms by yourself, and that’s a sad trend.”

Previous Scouting Reports

Scouting Report: Hunterra – May 9, 2018

Scouting Report: Tokalon Clothing provides a blank canvas for activewear – Jan. 18, 2018

Scouting Report: Creative Habitat working on child-friendly coworking – Dec. 12, 2017

Scouting Report: StemBox moves from Seattle to Des Moines – Sept. 14, 2017

Scouting Report: Death Ball brings soccer and wizardry to the arcade | 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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