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Middle Bit: RAYGUN to open Chicago store this summer

This summer RAYGUN will be expanding its operations to a new, 4,800-square-foot store in Andersonville, Illinois. The new store will be similar in design to other RAYGUN locations with merchandise being sold in a two-floor space.

Mike Draper, founder and owner of RAYGUN, recently sold off 20% of the company for $582,000 in order to speed up their expansion into new cities.

Once the Chicago store is up and running, RAYGUN plans on opening the company’s sixth store, in Cedar Falls.

Registration open for 2019 BIO World Congress

Registration is now open for the 2019 BIO World Congress. The event will take place in Des Moines at the Iowa Events Center, July 8 -11.

The three-day presentation will consist of forums and presentations from business executives, government officials and academic researchers sharing the latest advances in industrial biotechnology.

Puris listed as top-funded agtech company in Minnesota

Minne Inno, an online publication based in Minnesota, recently published a list of top-funded agtech startups in the state. Puris, a company with roots in Iowa made the list.

The company produces protein powder and was founded in Oskaloosa 1985 before moving its headquarters to Minneapolis in 2016. Puris signed a joint venture agreement with Minnetonka-based Cargill in 2018. In total, the company has made $37.5 million, reported Minne Inno.

Middle Bit: RAYGUN to open Chicago store this summer | 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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