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Middle Bit: 31 Iowa companies make Inc. 5000 list

Inc.’s annual list of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S has been released and 31 Iowa companies made the list.

Topping the list of Iowa companies was MCI in Iowa City,,coming in at rank 452 nationwide. The company saw a three-year-growth of 1002% and made $45.1 million in revenue in 2018.

Also high on the list was Rocket Referrals, coming in at rank 481. Rocket Referrals has had a 3-year growth rate of 914% and made $2.3 million in revenue in 2018 according to the list.

Other Iowa companies to make the list include KCL Engineering, Involta, BirdDogHr and Circle Computer Resources.

Rantizo adds three more states to approved territory for drone spraying

This week Rantizo became approved for agricultural drone spraying in three additional states, further expanding the company’s territory to include Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska.

The Iowa City based ag tech company is now the first and only approved for drone spraying in five Midwestern states: Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Although the company has been the first and only approved in the Midwest for drone spraying, Rantizo plans to continue to expand across the country.

“The demand is definitely there,” Rantizo Director of Operations, Craig Perry stated. “We’ve had people reaching out to us from Hawaii to New York and everywhere in between. Some states will be easier than others to break into and we will continue to work on this.”

BasicBlock raises $675k pre-seed round

BasicBlock, a mobile application for truck drivers to be paid quicker, today announced that it has secured a $675k pre-seed round lead by Global Financial Group. Global Financial Group was joined in the round by Jason Calacanis, Jenny Fielding, Invest Nebraska and a few other small angels. 

“The company plans to continue to increase its investment into the technology so it can continue to reduce the price of the software for fleets, and brokers.

“Our mission is to be able to pay trucking companies quicker and more money” said BasicBlock’s CEO and Co-founder Taylor Monks in a statement. “The investment and this strategic partnership with Global Financial Group will allow us to further our mission by giving the software aware for almost 75% less than any competitor out there.” 

BasicBlock plans to expand on the feature set of the product but also start actually funding the over 20,000 invoices a month that drivers are billing through the platform putting them on pace to be considered as one of the fastest growing companies in the niche of supply chain payments. 

Prairie.Code() set for Sept. 11-13

Prairie.Code() is a software development conference having dedicated tracks on Emerging Technologies, Open-Source Technologies, Practical Agile, Microsoft Stack, Software Craftsmanship, and more, with over 80 breakout sessions and workshops.

The goal of the conference is to help nurture and strengthen the Des Moines tech community, promoting educational and networking opportunities for both seasoned developers and those new to the field.

Check out the line-up of breakout sessions, full-day workshops, and keynotes here.

This article was edited on Aug. 20 at 1:19 pm to include MCI in Iowa City.

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Middle Bit: 31 Iowa companies make Inc. 5000 list | 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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