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Continuum Ag named “best of show” in ISU pitch competition

Continuum Ag was named “best of show” of the more than 150 participants in Iowa State University’s pitching competition at the Iowa State Fair this year.

Continuum Ag is a consulting and data management company with a focus on soil health based in Washington, Iowa.

Students from every ISU college, as well as recent alumni, competed in the daily pitch-offs Aug. 8-15 at the Iowa State exhibit in the Varied Industries building. Fairgoers voted for their favorite of 112 pitches to move forward in the competition, with 56 pitches competing in the semifinals Friday and Saturday.

On Sunday afternoon, the winners were announced by ISU President Wendy Wintersteen and Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert. Continuum Ag received a $5,000 Best of Show award.

Seven finalists each received a $2,500 award.

Awards winners:

  • Best of Show: Continuum Ag (Mitchell Hora and David Hora)
  • Youth Entrepreneur Award: Civil Teen Discourse (Owynn McNutt, Charlize DeArmond and Nicholas Stocks)
  • Community Entrepreneur Award: New Day Dairy (Lynn Bolin)
  • Applied Technology & Innovation Award: Haber Technologies (Eric Harweger and Dillon Hurd)
  • Applied Technology & Innovation Award: CattleTEC (Alex Irlbeck)
  • Civic/Social Entrepreneurship Award: Belange Handmade LLC (Belange Mutunda)
  • Cutting Edge Innovation: NXGenCare (Andrew Guillamette)
  • Iowa Entrepreneur Award: Deadeye BBQ (Michael Hanstad)

President Wintersteen selected one entrepreneur for a $1,000 President’s Pitch Award: Comic Sandwiches by Grayson Burgess.

Four entrepreneurs also received honorable mentions. Each received a $1,000 award.

  • JAS Solutions (Dillon Jensen)
  • Lunchsox (Rebecca Lyons)
  • The Modern Milkman (Lauren Jones)
  • Process Partners (Courtney Middelkoop)

Click here to see more information about the results from the pitch competition.

Continuum Ag named “best of show” in ISU pitch competition | 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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