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NewBoCo announces startups for Fall 2018 accelerator programs

The Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA) has announced the four companies that will join the 2018 Fall Cohort.

In addition, two nonprofits have been accepted into the inaugural cohort of NewBoCo’s Social Good Accelerator, after running a successful pilot of the program earlier this year with GSI Works.

Instead of a seed investment like in ISA, each team accepted into the Social Good Accelerator will receive a grant of $20,000-$50,000. The nonprofits will receive the same training and access to NewBoCo network of mentors and resources in as the tech startups in ISA.

The companies joining the the accelerator programs are:

Iowa Startup Accelerator Teams

Social Good Accelerator Teams

Eric Engelmann, Executive Director of NewBoCo, returns to lead the ISA from a nine-month sabbatical where he visited startup and tech communities around the world.

“I researched a lot of the funding models for programs similar tothis while traveling,” Engelmann said. “Just trying to find other options for how to best grow the program.”

Last lear, the accelerator announced the intent to go from ten startups per year to 100 per year over the next five years.

“In ordered to that, we need to find a different financial model,” Engelmann said. “So right now we’re doing a lot of exploration around how get to that point.”

Four of the six companies accepted into the accelerator program this fall are based out of Iowa.

“We’re not necessarily filtering for Iowa companies. It’s really based on the quality of the applicant and whether or not we feel like they meet the criteria we’re looking for,” Engelmann said. “What I hope is true is that this is a sign that Iowa is getting better at producing acceleratable companies.”

Previous coverage

NewBoCo provides multiple avenues to success –August 6, 2018

Rantizo: Precision drone spraying –April 11, 2018








NewBoCo announces startups for Fall 2018 accelerator programs | 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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