ISU Startup Factory continues to grow, announces two new cohorts

ISU Startup Factory is based out or ISU Research Park, an innovation community and incubator for new and expanding businesses.

The ISU Startup Factory, a 52-week program housed at the Iowa State University Research Park, recently announced two new cohorts.

The first of the two announcements will be the fifth cohort of the main program that takes place in Ames. The other will take place in Austin, Minnesota and will be the second cohort of ISU Startup Factory’s experimental regional “node” program.

Those accepted in the Startup Factory receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors and investors in two 26-week blocks. The first block will consist of a formal curriculum centered on business validation, with the second block more customized to their individual business needs.

The ISU Startup Factory is led by Bill Adamowski. He joined the EDIR team in 2015 to focus on growing the network of innovation throughout the Iowa State campus. He crafted the framework for the Startup Factory from traveling the country observing the best practices from the likes of MIT, Stanford and other successful accelerators.

Companies that have participated in the ISU Startup Factory over the last two years have raised over $14 million in venture financing and government funding. Most recently, Smart Ag received a $5 million dollar investment from Stine Seeds and Gross-Wen received a $2 million investment from Doerfer.

“I think we’re going to see a lot more of those investments we go forward,” Adamowski, President of the ISU Startup Factory said.

Expanding outside of Ames

After finding early success in Ames, the Startup Factory decided to expand their program to other locations. In addition to the main program in Ames, they have two other locations: one in Northwest Iowa and one in Austin, Minnesota.

It wasn’t originally intended to be this large,” Adamowski said. “We wanted to get to about 20 startups a year in the startup factory. That was our initial goal.”

Bringing in the right people

One of the things ISU Startup Factory looks for when accepting companies is businesses that

“We’re looking for people who are trying to take something to market that requires scale, that probably needs some investment capital,” Adamowski said. “I have a personal bend towards purpose-driven entrepreneurs which are someone who’s trying to make money but also make an impact on the world.” 

Another consideration the startup factory takes into account when looking at applicants is the team.

“You might have a good idea or a great product, but if it’s not the right team, or at least the beginnings of a team,” Adamowski said. “I look at it and say could we help this person build the right team,” 

The third component looked at is making sure every cohort has a diverse group of companies and people.

“To me, the composition of the different people in the cohort matters because they learn from each other. So, I want some people with science skills and some with engineering skills and some people who are outgoing and have very good presentation skills, Adamowski said. “They can learn from each other.”