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A new way to experience fitness is coming to Des Moines

A new way to experience fitness classes will soon be available for residents in the Des Moines area.

Two Des Moines women—Natalie Dayton and Kati Colby—are co-founders of The Drop, a new app that will let members test out and go to different types of fitness classes in the Des Moines area.

“I was in Philadelphia last November and noticed a SoulCycle and selfishly wished we had one of those in Des Moines but also wanted something with more variety,” said Dayton. “So when I got back into town, I reached out to Kati about the possibility of doing something like that.”

Upon meeting, the two immediately agreed that it was a good concept and the idea took off from there.

“Natalie and I just got to thinking about how cool it would be if we were able to offer this experience to our community and what that would look like,” said Colby. “And what could come to be if we broke down the barriers to being able to experience these gyms, studios and classes that are happening in our community.”

Now, less than one year later, The Drop app is scheduled to launch Oct. 1.

Upon downloading the app, users will be prompted to commit to a monthly $4.95 fee. From there, they will be able to book various classes from around Des Moines, a la carte-style. Users will book and pay for all the classes through the app’s master calendar and will get a 25% discount off the established drop-in rate of the studio they’re attending.

The Drop works with a range of studios, giving members options like yoga, cycling, Pilates, barre, running, strength training, dance, sports and more. The Drop currently has partnerships with 25 different gyms and studios listed on their site including Elevated Fitness, Crossfit Max Oxygen and Good Vibes Yoga.

“We really just want this to be a platform that helps supplement,” said Colby. “If you have a home gym already, you probably won’t drop your membership. You’ll use The Drop to go experience other places at the same time.”

“And if you’re some like me who doesn’t have a gym, you’ll likely use The Drop more heavily because you’re not ever going to commit to one stationary gym,” added Dayton.

In addition to the master calendar, the app will also have what Dayton and Colby are calling ‘dropportunities.’ These are events happening throughout the community they want to highlight and bring to the forefront.

“There are a couple of things we took into consideration that were really important to us when building the platform and one of those was not undercutting the studios,” said Colby. “We want to support the studios and fuel what their community and add new energy to their gyms and studios. So we didn’t want to create a pricing structure that was not going to benefit them or compete with them.” 

Dayton and Colby will be holding a launch party Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. to celebrate the launch of the app.

Those interested in learning more about The Drop can find more about them on their Instagram.

A new way to experience fitness is coming to Des Moines | 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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