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Fluent partners with InBIA Partners and SourceLink for $375,000 Pilot of Fluency Score

Select startup accelerators across the country will pilot The Fluency Score, a tool for evaluating companies applying to their programs, thanks to a new InBIA pilot program.

InBIA (the International Business Innovation Association) is partnering with Fluent, a Denver-based fintech startup, and SourceLink, a non-profit entrepreneurial ecosystem resource provider. 

Fluency Score evaluations will be conducted among startup accelerator applicants as well as program graduates in over 20 startup accelerator cohorts across the United States. This initiative will explore the potential for The Fluency Score’s data to help entrepreneurial support programs with their selection processes.

“The Fluency Score, like a FICO Score for startups, measures and describes innovation and execution risk using a standardized, objective algorithm that can be used by accelerators or others deploying capital and resources to startups,” said Beth McKeon, founder of Fluent. “This new tool offers a unique lens through which we can view business risk and potential. We are honored and excited to roll out the InBIA pilot on a large scale across the country.”

Fluent has strong ties to Iowa, as both, McKeon and Fluent’s Chief Strategy Officer Keevin O’Rourke, went through the Iowa Startup Accelerator with different companies.

SourceLink, a national leader in entrepreneurship measurement, data collection and analysis, is a third partner that will be providing consulting to determine the impact of the Fluency Score. 

“It’s critical that all good ideas have the opportunity to thrive in an accelerator program. It’s part of our philosophy, and why we are eager to partner with Fluent and InBIA to measure the impact of Fluent’s pioneering approach,” said Rob Williams, director of SourceLink.

Applications for the pilot are now open.

Previous coverage

Fluent: A new approach to startups -March 13, 2019

Fluent partners with InBIA Partners and SourceLink for $375,000 Pilot of Fluency Score | 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 mpatane@clayandmilk.com.
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