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Two Iowans accepted into Future Founders Alumni Accelerator

Future Founders, a nonprofit organization focused on helping youth become entrepreneurs, announced the 36 entrepreneurs who will be part of the 2020 Future Founders National Fellowship Alumni Accelerator.

Two Iowa founders—Matthew Rooda and Mikayla Sullivan—were accepted into the accelerator.

Rooda, founder of Cedar Rapids-based SwineTech, participated in Future Founders’ 2017 Fellowship program. Sullivan, CEO and co-founder of Kinosol was a participant in the 2018 Fellowship.

The Alumni Accelerator is a program designed to engage those Fellowship alumni who have demonstrated significant traction as founders and have taken intentional steps to work on their businesses full-time.

Participating founders will benefit from a national peer community of millennial founders, mentoring by our Entrepreneurs in Residence, entrepreneurship retreats, and volunteer opportunities through Future Founders programs. Select founders from the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Fellowship cohorts were invited to participate in this year’s accelerator.

“Through the Alumni Accelerator, Future Founders continues to support our most promising founders, giving them additional runway to grow sustainable companies,” said Scott Issen, President & CEO, Future Founders, in an announcement. “The program will build on the success from our first four cohorts that have generated over $17.7 million in revenue, secured $12.4 million in capital and created 317 jobs.”

Click here to see all 36 entrepreneurs accepted into the program.

Previous coverage

KinoSol’s solar dehydrators now available in the U.S. -July 30, 2019

SwineTech is using artificial intelligence to save piglets -Sept. 13, 2018

Two Iowans accepted into Future Founders Alumni Accelerator | 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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