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Middle Bit: Adrienne Greenwald to succeed John LaMarche as Managing Principal at VentureNet Iowa

VentureNet Iowa announced today that Adrienne Greenwald, current Director of Communications and Public Relations, is to succeed John LaMarche as Managing Principal, effective July 1, 2019. 

LaMarche, who has served as Managing Principal since 2008, announced his retirement and will remain with the company in the interim as a consultant to ensure a smooth transition.

“While we are sad to see John retire, we congratulate Adrienne Greenwald on her new leadership role. I have complete confidence in a seamless transition and look forward to working with her and the rest of the VentureNet team,” said Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham, in the press release.

Greenwald joined VentureNet in 2012 and has served as the Director of Communications and Public Relations since 2013.

What else is happening?

AI start-up Betterview raises $4.5 million in round led by ManchesterStory

Betterview, a California-based AI property and building insight and workflow platform for insurance companies, has closed a $4.5M Series A funding round.

The round was led by Iowa-based ManchesterStory, with participation from Nationwide Ventures, EMC Insurance, Maiden Re and Compound.

Along with the funding round, Dave Miles, Managing Partner of ManchesterStory, and Brian Desmond, CMO of Guidewire Software, joined Betterview’s Board of Directors.

The company will use the funds to continue to grow its team.

In July of 2018, Betterview launched its risk management platform, which leverages machine learning, computer vision and geospatial data to deliver data, analysis and insights on commercial and residential properties throughout the United States.

Lenderclose partners with Simplifile

West Des Moines-based LenderClose has announced a partnership with Simplifile, the nation’s largest e-recording network for mortgage lenders and settlement agents .

Simplifile has deployed its e-recording platform in 50 percent of all U.S. recording jurisdictions and plans to help the remaining 50 percent realize e-recording benefits in 2019. 

“The integration is a continuation of LenderClose’s strategy to provide lenders a single point of access to the housing industry’s top vendors to digitize the loan cycle. “We cannot afford to lose sight of the borrower experience,” said LenderClose Chief Operating Officer Ben Rempe. “That’s why we have placed such a high priority on putting the right technology and integrations into the hands of lending staff. When they are empowered to exceed expectations, the borrower experience is automatically improved.” 

Previous coverage

VentureNet Iowa: connecting companies with state funding -Aug. 1, 2018

Lenderclose: Corporate to startup -May 10, 2018

Middle Bit: Adrienne Greenwald to succeed John LaMarche as Managing Principal at VentureNet 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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