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CYstarters announces 15 student entrepreneurs for 2019 cohort

CYstarters has announced the 15 student entrepreneurs that will participate in the fourth cohort of the program this summer.

The 11–week program, coordinated by the Iowa State Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, gives student entrepreneurs the funding, network of mentors, and skill-set development to help them pursue their business ideas while in college.

To start the program, CYstarters will be holding a 2019 Community Kick-Off at ISU Research Park on May 23.

Here are the 15 businesses selected for this year’s program:

AI for Microscopy — Denis Tamiev

AI for Microscopy creates artificial intelligence solutions within microscopy to improve cellular counting and classification in healthcare.

Camp Aramoni — Stephanie Bias

Camp Aramoni provides luxury camping experiences and offers a unique event venue located near central Illinois’s Starved Rock State Park.

CattleTech— Alex Irlbeck

CattleTech helps livestock farmers analyze animal health using RFID technology and visual imagery to capture key insights and allow for more informed management decisions around herd health quality and profitability.

Chess Utopia — Anthony Swindell

Chess Utopia provides after school chess lessons for elementary and middle school students to enhance learning and teach the game of chess.

Comic Sandwiches — Grayson Burgess

Comic Sandwiches manufactures and designs high-end prop replicas for comic enthusiasts and toy collectors.

Courselink — Philippe Meister

Courselink aims to help teachers, advisors, and students in higher education by creating a node-network visualization to tell a better story of a student’s development & work experiences.

Flourish — Lauren Gifford

Flourish combines the fun of learning calligraphy with the social atmosphere of an elegant party through a blend of teaching classes, hosting community-driven events, and creating weekly videos for over 75,000 YouTube subscribers.

Iowa Virtual Reality Labs — Brandon Jorgensen

Iowa Virtual Reality Labs is a veteran-owned virtual reality lounge which provides rentable play spaces for the ultimate virtual reality experience.

Jensen Applied Sciences — Dillon Jensen

Jensen Applied Sciences provides cloud technology solutions for the craft brewing industry.

One Hop Shop — Geert Boelen & Annie Zeimis

One Hop Shop produces dry-roasted and seasoned cricket snacks for human consumption as a healthy source for energy and protein. Geert is a recent graduate who studied agricultural business.

Pink Panda — Grant Keast

Pink Panda Aerial Media helps real estate brokers and development professionals market residential and commercial properties more effectively using high-quality aerial videos.

Pock It — Lila Dougherty

Pock It creates an all-in-one attachable pocket for travelers, backpackers, and students commuting on campus.

Powdu — Kyrstin Myhers

Powdu provides an all natural powder shampoo capsule for environmentally conscious consumers looking for an easy-to-carry shampoo product.

The Modern Milkman — Lauren Jones

The Modern Milkman is a grocery-style food truck which offers the essentials for rural communities fighting depopulation and limited food accessibility.

WashWright — Justin Wright

WashWright creates and produces robotic power washing machines for livestock farmers without the need to hire costly crews.

The descriptions of the CYstarters companies listed above have been provided by ISU.

Previous coverage

CYstarters: Fifteen companies take the stage at demo day -Aug. 2, 2018

Diverse group of startups close out the 2017 CYstarters program -July 29, 2017

CYstarters announces 15 student entrepreneurs for 2019 cohort | 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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