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Koloni partners with universities, distributes operations to students

Pocahontas-based Koloni is changing up how typical bike shares function by distributing some of its ownership and operations to partnering universities and students.

Once a university approves and orders a bike share through Koloni, students are then able to begin work on customizing their bike-sharing program. Business and Health majors can operate the bike share to gain insider experience. Marketing, Communication and Graphic Design majors can oversee the marketing and social media. Finance majors can use the data collected by our software to run analytics and inform Leisure, Youth & Human Services majors, who are constructing business planning for the bike share.

Students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois deployed a Koloni bike share system in early 2019. The program was spearheaded by junior students who experienced the lack of transportation on campus first hand. Northwester now has 60 bikes deployed throughout its campus and students are riding over 250 times per day. Students can purchase a quarterly membership for just $30.

Cape Breton University also deployed a Koloni bike share program this fall, which is operated primarily by students. This bike share is offered for free by the university to all students and staff which grants them the independence to ride off campus and visit the nearby town.

By allowing partner universities to keep a majority of the transactional revenue, Koloni is able to work with universities and communities of all sizes.

In May, Koloni accepted into Launch Accelerator, a San Francisco-based accelerator that invests in early age startups.

Previous coverage

Koloni accepted into Launch Accelerator -May 23, 2019

Koloni connects users to sharable products in their community -March 5, 2019

Koloni partners with universities, distributes operations to students | 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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