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Brian Sauer on selling Saturday Mfg to MACLYN

MACLYN, a 25-year old a creative agency based in Chicago, announced late last month that it had acquired Des-Moines based creative agency Saturday Mfg.

“Over the last few years we had what I felt was a significant amount of growth,” said Brian Sauer, founder of Saturday Mfg. “It became too much for me to handle and it grew to a point that I knew I coudn’t handle it on my own.”

After giving it some thought, Sauer decided to put his business out on the market, started talking to people and looking into different options on how to best move forward.

“As far as the overall core vision of what we do and how we approach our projects and clients, it lined up really well with how MACLYN approached it, Sauer said. “To the point where when we were talking and describing to each other what we do, our tones, descriptions and vocabulary were identical in certain cases. So it didn’t feel like it was going to be a huge departure in the core of what we do at all. For me, that was something that was very important. Being presented with a few options, this one was the one that struck as the easiest transition.”

Sauer says that it, at times, can be challenging not having creative ownership over something he has put so much time and energy into.

“I’m not going to lie to you. There have been tough days and there have been great days. There have been days where you ride the emotional roller coaster of creating this thing-this identity and this brand that’s going away,” Sauer said. The harsh term is we’re no longer Saturday, we’re now MACLYN. It’s not that black and white obviously. The things that we’ve built—the relationships, the culture and everything else—just don’t disappear overnight. But yeah, it’s tough.”

The entire Saturday MFG staff is now part of the MACLYN team and Sauer will stay on as a partner at MACLYN and serve as the company’s Creative Director.

“My interests are still just as invested as they are when it was Saturday,” Sauer said.

Holding on to old traditions

“Everybody keeps asking if we’re keeping the flapjacks and we certainly are. There’s definitely a lot of things that are Saturday traditions that will become MACLYN Des Moines traditions,” Sauer said. “We are currently planning our pancake party for the spring so that’s not going away. We’re keeping the same office, the same furniture — we’re kind of the same people.”

Brian Sauer on selling Saturday Mfg to MACLYN | 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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