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Small Business Success Summit set for Nov. 9

The second annual Small Business Success Summit will take place in Ankeny on November 9.

The Small Business Success Summit is designed to inform and educate small business owners in the central Iowa area on strategies to properly run their business once it is up and running.

“Every year I searched for something where I could just learn the guts and the core of running a business and there really wasn’t anything that focused on that,” said Christina Moffatt, Director of Small Business Development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership and owner of Creme Cupcake.

The Summit will host three keynote speakers and a variety of workshops and breakout sessions on topics that affect business owners and managers. Attendees will also have time to network and establish strategic partnerships.

“The summit really focuses on things like hiring, cybersecurity, marketing tactics, and transitioning if you’ve got new leaders coming in,” Moffatt said. “Basically, what business owners need to do next once their business is running.”

The first Small Business Success Summit in 2017 had 265 attendees and Moffat says she expects to have around 300 attendees this year.

“We really got great feedback that helped us direct what we’ll teach this year, Moffatt said. “Last year people replied that they wanted more marketing. So this year we’ll have five or six marketing classes, versus last year where we only had three.”

Registration for the summit is $79 for members and $99 for non-members.

The three speakers at this years summit will be:

Whitney Cox – Marketing Manager for Small Business Outreach

Cox will kick off the day by discussing how businesses are positioning their products and brands for success.

“The first keynote speaker we’re kicking off the day with is Whitney Cox. She’s actually with Google. She’s coming to talk about consumer behavior. A lot of our small businesses aren’t sure how to best measure that.”

Meredith Elliott Powell – Business Growth Expert and Global Keynote

Powell to talk about strategies that help small businesses actually close sales.

“A lot of businesses around here have that Iowa nice mentality where we’re really good at starting conversations that lead into sales, but we never go back and close the door on them,” Moffatt said.

Joe Schmitt – Author and Impact Leadership Expert

To wind off the day, Joe Schmidt will be talking about impactful leadership.

“Small business owners are often deemed by the community as a leader whether they feel they are or not. So how does that impact your employees and consumers,” Moffatt said. “Schmidt will talk about how to deal with that transition.”

Small Business Success Summit set for Nov. 9 | 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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