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50-Pound Boson is helping companies sell their products online

Each and every year we hear about the increase in online sales, and as e-commerce continues to grow, talk of the death of brick-and-mortar continues to grow with it.

“The fun thing about doing e-commerce is that it’s growing phenomenally and there’s more and more need for it,” said Tim McDougall. “People are buying more stuff, they’re just buying it online.”

In 2016, McDougall teamed up with Jason Nelson and started 50-Pound Boson.

Based out of Cedar Rapids, 50-Pound Boson is an e-commerce marketing and growth hacking team that focuses on helping startup and emerging businesses establish a steady and growing stream of revenue from their physical products.

The company started just over two years ago and initially was focused on helping companies sell products on Amazon. Since then, the company has begun to expand into other e-commerce channels and has grown from two employees to a team of five.

“As we got recommended more and more, people wanted us to take on other things,” McDougall said. “So one of our challenges has been adopting new skill sets as we grow. We realized that we have to have the entire e-commerce toolbag before too long and with a small team that’s been our biggest challenge.”

McDougall is a firm believer that marketing is an investment, not an expense.

“We’re not just going to spend your money and give you a bunch of vanity metrics. We’re going to base it on whether or not we move product for you,” McDougall said. “Did we move more than you were moving without us. Are we creating profits for you? If you’re not you should drop us and if you are you should pay us more. And that turns out to be a proposition that a lot of young, emerging companies really like.”

McDougall says they would like to slowly increase the size of companies we’re working with and are considering the idea of putting out their own products as well.

“That gives us the opportunity to experiment in new ways that we might not do with a client’s product because if it blows up, it blows up in our face,” McDougall said. “That allows us to be out on the cutting edge of things without putting clients dollars at risk.”

50-Pound Boson is helping companies sell their products online | 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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