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Middle Bit: TechStars Iowa now accepting applications

Applications are now open for the Techstars Iowa Accelerator.

Techstars Iowa will accept startups from a broad array of industries that are looking to scale rapidly.  The Techstars worldwide network includes mentors from global corporations, former and current founders of startups and investors.

Ten accepted startups will spend this fall engaging with industry leaders, researchers, and professors stretching multiple disciplines such as automation, general engineering, material science, augmented and virtual reality spanning multiple vertical markets including energy, sustainability, education, agriculture, finance and healthcare.

The accelerator will stretch from early September to early December and will be held primarily in Des Moines with visits to networks and communities throughout Iowa.

The application window is open from February 17 until May 10.  Click here to apply.

Dickinson Law holding Startup Seminar

Dickinson Law will be holding a Startup Seminar on March 5th at Gravitate Coworking Downtown. The seminar will consist of programming from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m., followed by a complimentary happy hour from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Attendees will hear from:

  • Martin Gross – CEO of Gross-Wen Technologies
  • Andy Snook – CEO of Fastpath
  • Terry Dooley – Executive VP/COO of Shazam
  • Ben Milne – Founder of Dwolla   

Featuring topics relevant to early-stage ventures, from corporate formation to seed stage financing to intellectual property, attendees will hear founder perspectives on these issues, as well as useful, actionable information from legal counsel who work with startup companies.

There is no cost to attend the event, but seats are limited, so register today.

Greater Des Moines Partnership holding Financial Model Seminar

On Thursday, March 12, the Greater Des Moines Partnership will be holding a Financial Model Seminar for those looking to develop business strategies for long term success.

Attendees will also learn how to determine the amount of capital they will need and when your company will become profitable. In addition, the seminar will teach how to present financial models to investors or stakeholders with confidence.

The seminar will take place from 8:30  – 11:30 a.m. at BrownWinick Law Firm. Tickets are $20. For more information about the Financial Model Seminar, contact Mike Colwell at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Middle Bit: TechStars Iowa now accepting applications | 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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