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SuredBits is rethinking the way we monetize and distribute data

Traditionally, data has been distributed in large bundles with high upfront costs. Three University of Iowa alumni are looking to change that.

Their company, SuredBits, is using blockchain technology to allow people to purchase the data they need in micropayments, something that has not been possible with traditional financial systems.

Founded by Chris Stewart in 2014, SuredBits sells software packages that allow developers to stream real-world, real-time data to their own websites in exchange for cryptocurrency.

“Breaking into certain data markets is extremely expensive and prices a lot of people out upfront because the fees are so high,” Chris Stewart, founder and CEO of SuredBits said. We’re breaking that down, allowing people to pay for data access a la carte rather than having to fork up a bunch of capital upfront.”

“We believe that the future is going to a very large customer base and making a lot less money per customer,” added Dan Smith, Director of Product and Operations.

Stewart was accepted to start-up accelerator Boost VC in early 2015 and received funding there before landing an investment from Draper Associates. Stewart worked solo on SuredBits until Nadav Kohen and Dan Smith joined the team earlier this year.

The team recently launched their first product using live NFL data and plans to offer NBA data this fall as well. The product, an API (application programming interface) runs on the Lightning Network, a payment protocol that operates on top of a blockchain.

“Developers that write software to run all these applications need to be getting this data from somewhere,” Stewart said. “They need to be constantly querying those data sources.”

Looking forward, SuredBits plans to eventually distribute other kinds of data and have begun to work on financial-market data streams that they plan to make available soon.

“We’re building a platform where you can monetize these data feeds in a way that was just not possible previously,” Smith said.



SuredBits is rethinking the way we monetize and distribute data | 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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