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Koloni connects users to sharable products in their community

A new app is looking to provide smaller communities with access to sharable products.

Pocahontas-based Koloni was started in 2016 by Bryan Dewey and Kate Lyon, with the hopes of bringing sharable products to communities that otherwise would not have access to them.

Through the Koloni app, a city can come in and lease on a monthly basis. Currently, the app offers two products, bike-shares and smart lockers.

“Our primary market is non-major markets. We’re not trying to compete with these billion dollar unicorn companies,” said Kate Lyon, co-founder of Koloni. “We focus on areas that are heavily tourists. There are a lot of towns that may only have 10k people in them, but get a lot of visitors each year.”

The app has now been around for over two years and offers products in 13 locations.

“We started in Iowa and have expanded throughout the Midwest and the South,” Lyon said. “We have some locations in Kentucky and Georgia and we’ll be launching in Northwestern University this spring as well.”

Lyon says that Koloni plans to expand into other sharable products as well, including kayak and canoe rentals.

“Our long-term vision is to be a sharable economy platform,” Lyon said. “As long as you’re using our system, you can rent anything.”

Koloni was recently chosen as one of ten companies to present at the 2019 Shared Mobility Summit in Chicago.

Koloni connects users to sharable products in their community | 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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