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Middle Bit: Ben and Jerry’s co-founder to deliver Keynote at EntreFEST 2019

 Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, has been announced as the keynote speaker for this year’s EntreFEST, set to take place on May 16-17 in Cedar Rapids.

In addition to Greenfield, 40 speakers from around the country have been announced to speak at this year’s EntreFEST. Some of the speakers for EntreFEST’s 2019 include: Sumaia Masoom, an innovator who works at Visa and has written for the Huffington Post, Mike Draper, founder and owner of RAYGUN, and Antoinette Stevens, founder of Reboot Iowa to help low-income adults explore ways technology can transform their lives.

Click here to purchase tickets and for more information about EntreFEST 2019.

Monetery 2019 to offer one-on-ones between venture capital firms and startups

Monetery 2019, Dwolla’s second regional summit for founders investors, announced this week the second day of the summit will be devoted to one-on-one meetings between selected startups and at least five venture capital firms traveling to Des Moines to participate in the conference.

Startups accepted into the one-on-ones initiative will get the chance to pitch their companies in person with representaives at different venture capitalist firms including Costanoa Ventures, Chicago Ventures, Firebrand Ventures, Next Level Ventures and Manchester Story.

 Startups interested in participating can apply online.

DMACC’s ciWeek set for March 4 – 8

ciWeek, DMACC’s annual week-long series of guest speakers and panels, is set to take place March 4 – 8. This year’s ciWeek is themed “Small Steps to Giant Leaps.”

Some of the more notable speakers throughout the week include Jerry Greenfield​, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, celebrity chef Roy Choi and Danielle Feinberg, Director of Photography at Pixar.

On Wednesday, will be a panel celebrating the Apollo 50th Anniversary. The panel will feature Walt Cunningham (Apollo 7 Astronaut),  Fre Haise (Apollo 13 Astronaut), Al Worden (Apollo 15 Astronaut), and Gerry Griffin (Apollo Flight Director). The panel will be moderated by author Rod Pyle.

​​​​​Events throughout the week are free and open to the public. Click here to see the schedule for the entire week.

Middle Bit: Ben and Jerry’s co-founder to deliver Keynote at EntreFEST 2019 | 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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