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Pitchly & MakuSafe receive investments from Best of the Midwest meeting

Two Iowa-based companies—MakuSafe and Pitchly—have received investments as a result of the Angel Capital Association’s Best of the Midwest regional meeting that took place in Des Moines in September. 

Funds raised through the event were pooled for equal investment in the startups that event judges approve to receive investment.

 A total of $470,000 was invested in nine early stage companies, resulting in each company receiving an investment of more than $50,000.

“The results of the 2018 Best of the Midwest regional meeting in DSM perfectly illustrates the strength of our region’s startup ecosystem,” said Mike Colwell, Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, in an announcement. “Iowa investors stepped up and made a statement that promising startups can obtain funding here.”

This year’s Best of the Midwest event was the third in an ongoing series for Midwest angel investors and is the first time the event took place in Des Moines. Next year’s Best of the Midwest regional event will take place in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1 Comment

  • Tom West
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    MākuSafe is grateful to have participated, competed in the pitch competition, and awarded. Thank you to The Angel Capital Association, The Greater Des Moines Partnership, and Plains Angels for an excellent Best of the Midwest event!

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Pitchly & MakuSafe receive investments from Best of the Midwest meeting | 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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