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Monetery 2019

Over 200 people gathered at the Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines on Tuesday for the first day of Monetery 2019.

The first day of the event consisted of six different sessions throughout the day examining the future of the internet, advice for startups, how tech can affect policy and the importance of building ethical software.

Here a few highlights from the event:

Matthew Prince on building Cloudflare

To kick off the conference, was a discussion between Dwolla Founder Ben Milne and Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince.

Prince spoke about his journey building Cloudflare and insights he’s gained along the way.

In Sept. 2017, Cloudflare ended technical support for the Daily Stormer, an American neo-Nazi and white supremacist website, after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The question we have always asked ourselves was, ‘If Cloudflare ran the internet, what would we do?’” Prince said. “Today, Cloudflare runs a whole bunch of the internet, and we can, at some level, pick and choose what is and is not online. But I don’t think that I have, personally, any political legitimacy to be the arbiter of what is and is not online. 

Andrew Yang on how tech can affect policy

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang shared his experiences as a tech entrepreneur and investor on stage.

Yang spoke about how policy can impact tech companies and the role that companies can play in affecting policy.

In 2011, he founded Venture for America, a national entrepreneurship fellowship, and helped create more than 2,500 jobs in cities across the country. In Nov. 2017, Yang officially launched his campaign for the presidency and has become best known for his proposal for Universal Basic Income, known as the Freedom Dividend.

Alaskans who have lived in the state for at least one full year are paid out a dividend — typically $1,000 to $2,000 a year — from the Alaska Permanent Fund, which was established in 1976 and is worth in excess of $55 billion, replenished with the state’s vast oil revenues, pointed out Yang.

“And what is oil of the 21st century?” Yang asked the crowd. “Data, Technology, AI. What they’re doing with oil in Alaska we can do for the entire country. It starts as something that seems far out but becomes vital the more you look into it.”

Harper Reed on building ethical software

Harper Reed spins a great tale around being CTO of the Obama campaign, the importance of APIs and using data effectively.

Reed talked about the value of building ethical software, the future of artificial intelligence and how problems can be solved with diverse teams and positive user experiences.

“With all these algorithms, there’s a chance that the people who made them don’t understand why they work. They just understand that they do work,” Reed said. “That scares the crap out of me.”

Reed emphasized the importance of avoiding bias within algorithms by having more diverse teams.

“When all the people building these algorithms and AI’s look more like me than like America and the world, we have a big issue.”

Monetery donates $20,000 to Iowa nonprofits

To wrap up the day, Dwolla announced a $10,000 donation to two Iowa nonprofits.

The first donation was to PI 515, an after-school program educating Iowa’s underserved population. The second donation was to Iowa Safe Schools, an organization that provides safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ and allied youth through education, outreach, advocacy and victim services.

Dwolla also announced the Transition Forward Project, a collection of resources to help companies and organizations develop guidelines inclusive of transgender and gender-nonconforming employees.

Monetery 2019 | 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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