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Middle Bit: Dwolla celebrates opening of new headquarters

Dwolla celebrated the opening of their new office in downtown Des Moines Wednesday evening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The new 22,000+ square foot facility, located at 909 Locust St., will accommodate Dwolla as it continues to grow. Dwolla is now up to 100 employees with plans to add 50 more team members in 2019. The new office will feature an events room called Lovelace which will host free community events.

“There’s a lot of people, past and present, who are responsible for the incredible things we’ve been able to build over the years. That’s something I’m really proud of,” said Ben Milne, CEO and founder of Dwolla. “Being in this space is humbling in a way that a lot of the experiences I’ve had with people in this room is humbling.”

“Every once in a while a new technology and an old problem and a big idea turn into an invasion,” said Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “And thanks to forward thinking from Ben, that’s exactly what Dwolla has done – taken a very complicated, antiquated process and made it easy, accessible and affordable.”

What else is happening?


ThreeKit today announced that it has raised $10 million in seed capital from serial entrepreneur Godard Abel, who previously cofounded BigMachines (which was acquired by Oracle in 2013) and SteelBrick (which Salesforce snatched up in 2015). CTO Ben Houston, a 15-year Hollywood veteran who created visual effects software that has been used in the Harry Potter franchise, The AvengersTitanic, and over 100 other films, said the cash would be used to fund talent acquisition and product and business development. -VentureBeat


Roots Venture Group is Nebraska’s first ever 100 percent-focused incubator, accelerator, and venture fund dedicated to launching and growing companies within the agricultural and rural industries, including areas such as tech, non-tech, lifestyle, and tech-enabled businesses and startups. Their focus is to work with founders that are keen on transforming the agriculture sector, rural communities in a sustainable manner and make an impactful societal and systemic change. -Silicon Prairie News


A Milwaukee startup founder that’s helping businesses create and distribute influencer marketing is in the latest cohort of a year-long Chicago accelerator aimed at mentoring young entrepreneurs. Urban Misfit Ventures’ co-founder and CEO Quentin Allums is in the fifth cohort of Future Founders, which started this month. The organization, founded in 2011 and based out of Chicago startup incubator 1871, offers budding entrepreneurs mentoring, retreats, a peer community and volunteer opportunities. -Wisconsin Inno

Middle Bit: Dwolla celebrates opening of new headquarters | 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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