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Early-stage VC firm launches fast funding initiative for startups

NFX, an early-stage venture capital firm in California, has launched a seed-funding initiative that allows startups to apply for seed funding and receive a commitment in nine days or less.

Founders can apply for a $1-2 million seed round in exchange for 15% of their company.

Startups that apply will receive initial feedback within three days and know if they’ve received funding within nine days. The first window for NFX to make FAST investments began on Tuesday and ends May 22. All investments are first come, first served.

Startups who receive FAST Funding will receive the same level of support as the other companies in the NFX portfolio and will join its portfolio of more than 125 founders.

Last year, NFX closed its second fund with $275 million. Now, NFX is carving out $20 million from that fund for this new initiative, planning to almost double its investing pace.

NFX is accustomed to working with and meeting founders remotely because of its own distributed team. The VC firm has built multiple tools — Signal in 2017 and The Company Brief in 2018 — to improve the fundraising process for the startup community. The FAST Seed initiative is something NFX has been developing for a long time and that was moved up in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Last week, NFX surveyed its founder and VC network of 286 founders and 114 VCs, who provided their insights about how startups are responding to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm plans to run this survey every 5-8 weeks to see how sentiment is changing. 

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Early-stage VC firm launches fast funding initiative for startups | 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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