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1 Million Cups panel discusses upcoming entrepreneurial events in Iowa

At this week’s 1 Million Cups in Iowa City, four panelists came shared information about upcoming events they are organizing.

The four panelists were:

Here are the events that were discussed.

EntreFEST (May 16-17)

EntreFEST is a two-day conference, celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation where professionals at every level can come together, share ideas, and own their success.

“It’s two days of entrepreneurship, innovation and culture workshops,” said Monk. “For those two days, we’re going to take over all of the NewBo neighborhood in Cedar Rapids. We’re going to have different workshops in bars, upstairs corners, and all sorts of interesting venues.”

Tickets are available now for $285 with discounts for students and for startups.

Des Moines Tech Crawl (April 25)

DSM Tech Crawl is a one-night tour of Des Moines’ startup and tech community. This is a great opportunity to go behind-the-scenes and tour some of the coolest tech spaces in Des Moines, pub-crawl style. Meet with tech leaders, startup founders and young professionals as you tour different tech spaces in downtown Des Moines with entertainment at each stop.

“This is kind of unprecedented access to these companies that you can’t just walk off the street and see,” said Wood. “These are all people that have chosen to build businesses in Iowa and have had success doing so. It’s a good chance from an entrepreneurial perspective to see what you can do some day.”

Tickets to the Tech Crawl are available now for $10.

Young Entrepreneur Convention (April 26-27)

The Young Entrepreneur Convention (YEC) is an event targeted primarily at college-aged entrepreneurs. After hosting the event in Des Moines for its first three years, YEC is moving to Ames in 2019.

YEC will include keynote speakers, exhibitors, networking and a pitch competition offering up to $50,000 in prizes.

“This year we’ve fully gone into the startup founder track,” said Zalasky. “Our speakers are people who are walking the journey, who have been where those college students and early-stage entrepreneurs in the audience are.”

Tickets are available now for $99.

Startup Weekend Iowa City (July 12-14)

Startup Weekend Iowa City is a 54-hour weekend event where participants pitch their ideas, form teams around skillsets, get feedback from mentors, build a prototype and finally present the product in a demo presentation on Sunday night.

Tickets are available now for $20.

The DSM Tech Crawl is an event being organized and presented by Clay & Milk. Geoff Wood is the co-founder and Publisher of Clay & Milk.

1 Million Cups panel discusses upcoming entrepreneurial events in Iowa | 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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