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CYstarters: Fifteen companies take the stage at demo day

The culmination of the CYstarters program came Wednesday as the fifteen companies in the 2018 cohort presented their ideas to an audience of nearly 100 people.

CYstarters is a 10-week program that provides students with financial support, professional resources and educational workshops for startups.

Inside the Iowa State University Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, each company presented about a problem they identified, their business idea, product, financial projections, marketing strategy and ability to scale. Each presentation was roughly four minutes long.

“This is one of the best days of the year for the entrepreneurship programs at Iowa State and quite frankly for Iowa State in general,” said David Spalding, Raisbeck Endowed Dean of the Iowa State University College of Business.

Nearly 100 people attended the 2018 CYstarters Demo Day at Iowa State University on Wednesday.

The companies in the 2018 CYstarters cohort were:

Aloha 21st Century Boomboxes

Aloha 21st Century Boomboxes shifts the paradigm by creating a new listening experience without creating another attachment for smartphones. By creating a boombox device using the Internet of Things, Aloha focuses on harmonious sound quality using a hollow acoustic center.

Ash Avenue Prints

Ash Avenue Prints offers custom-designed posters and prints for Greek organizations, including sororities and fraternities at Iowa State University.

CNB Games

CNB Games creates the ultimate experience for table-top games (Dungeon & Dragons) through a monthly subscription service offering single-story boxes and a campaign box for the game aficionado.

Deadeye BBQ

Deadeye BBQ Products sells high-quality barbecue sauce and gluten-free seasonings without MSG, and with a focus on millennial buyers. Deadeye BBQ products can currently be purchased at Hy-Vee, Fareway, Amazon, and their online store.

Full Circle Living

Full Circle Living helps the geriatric population by providing wellness services to break the notion that a doctor is the only person who can provide wellbeing. Full Circle Living will focus on the 7 dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, and environmental.

Home Painter

Home Painter plays matchmaker to home owners looking to receive an accurate estimate and connects qualified painters to receive additional bids, while increasing their market reach.


LivSuite connects the gym goer to their fitness community by use of swipe technology to offer classes, personalized routines and provides added value to fitness memberships specific to their local gym or fitness center.


Lotus works to advance shaving technology for women using a 360-degree architecture composed of circular blades to mirror the contour of the one-of-a-kind female body.

Minerals to Algae

Minerals to Algae uses algae-based technology, patented from Gross-Wen Technologies, to enhance micronutrient effectiveness to be absorbed into the body. Minerals to Algae aims to work within the multivitamin and supplement industry by partnering with homeopathic nutraceutical companies.


Lunchsox sells fun, festive and comfortable socks, while 100% of the profits are donated to nonprofits that provide meals for kids in need. Currently, Lunchsox sells through an online store, with plans to expand in retail channels.

Riverside Events

Riverside Events caters to weddings and special events, with a proposed venue located in Algona, Iowa.


Spotlight helps small retail businesses by connecting customers using location-based advertising for daily deals and special events.

Swoon Event Studio

Swoon Event Studio helps event planners and newly engaged couples with creating unique tablescapes by providing a do-it-yourself online design studio with drag and drop software. Swoon aims to be the ONE shop to rent all design elements by partnering with affiliate decor companies and wedding vendors.

Up the Ante Productions

Up the Ante Productions helps event professionals, small businesses, organizations, and real estate companies market by using aerial videography for promotion and brand awareness.

Woof Rider

Woof Rider is a business built for dog people by dog people. Woof Rider helps dog owners who travel with their dogs by providing a safe and reliable restraint system for personal vehicles.

Award winners

For the first time in CYstarters history, awards were given at the end of the presentations. Five undercover investors sat among the audience and each of them awarded $1,000 to one of the companies at the end of the day.  In addition, two alumni awards were given out to people who participated in previous cohorts of CYstarters and have seen continued success since then.

Steven Brokshus and Clayton Mooney accept the Cystarters 2018 Alumni Award.

The two Alumni Awards were given to Steven Brokshus, founder of Farmland Finder, and to Clayton Mooney, co-founder of Nebullam and Kinosol.

The selected winners from this year’s cohort were Lunchsox, Home Painters, Aloha 21st Century Boomboxes, Lotus and Ash Avenue Prints.

CYstarters: Fifteen companies take the stage at demo day | 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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