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Middle Bit: EntreFEST announces new software developer track

EntreFEST NewBoCo

EntreFEST has announced that this year’s conference is adding a new software developer track.

“For the past few years, the conference has been centered around high-impact speakers and workshops aimed at entrepreneurs and innovators in existing companies,” wrote Eric Englemann in the announcement. “As we planned the 2019 event for May 16th and 17th, the organizing team noted the large number of fast-growth startups in Iowa that are software and technology companies.”

To help build the region’s software development capabilities, this year’s conference will offer an experimental track specifically for software developers focused on:

  • Mobile, web, and cloud software development practices
  • Emerging technologies and techniques that developers need to know
  • Building a culture and environment where software developers thrive
  • The challenges of building tech-driven startups and companies

The EntreFEST organizing team  has brought on four new members to the organizing team to help select the headlining speakers for the developer track:

  • Jessica Bertling, NewBoCo UI/UX Developer & DeltaV Code School Instructor
  • Keith Dahlby, NewBoCo Software Architect & DeltaV Code School Instructor
  • Usha Kachegere, UFG Insurance Application Development Team Lead
  • Jason Logan, UFG Insurance Application Developer & DeltaV Code School Graduate ’17

The conference is now accepting applications for developer track speakers through February 11th.

The conference is set to return May 16-17, 2019 in Cedar Rapids. Tickets are on sale now.

What else is happening?


Clearcover, a Chicago-based auto insurance startup that uses artificial intelligence to more effectively market auto insurance, announced today that it has raised a $43 million round of funding led by Cox Enterprises. Other participating investors include American Family Ventures, IA Capital Group, Lightbank, and Hyde Park Angels. -VentureBeat


Independent digital insurance broker Mylo has announced a $28 million investment led by Guggenheim Partners. Kansas City-based Mylo intends to leverage the investment and its partnerships to scale and expand its influence in the insurance marketplace. -Silicon Prairie News

Middle Bit: EntreFEST announces new software developer track | 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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