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Middle Bit: Global Insurance Accelerator to hold Virtual Pitch Event on April 22

The 2020 cohort of the Global Insurance Accelerator will come to an end next Wednesday as seven companies present their insurtech solutions over Zoom.

On Monday, March 16, GIA converted its 2020 cohort to a fully remote program. With the completion of its fifth cohort, the Global Insurance Accelerator will have graduated 33 companies.

The event is free and open to the public.

Iowa organizations partner to create Iowa Small Business Relief Fund

Iowa organizations are partnering to uplift the small business community throughout the entire state, starting the Iowa Small Business Relief Fund in response to COVID-19.

The new partnership includes: The Director’s Council, Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit, League of United Latin American Citizens – Iowa, One Voice, Iowa State Extension, DREAM Iowa,  Iowa Community Capital, Ethnic Minorites of Burma Advocacy Center (EMBARC Iowa), Des Moines Branch of the NAACP, Latino Resources of Iowa, and Financial Empowerment Center (DMACC).

The funding is for small businesses disrupted by COVID-19 that are not recipients of Federal and State Small business relief dollars. Businesses that apply are eligible for between $500-$3500 in funding.

​To be eligible, businesses are required to:  

  • ​have 1-7 employees prior to March 17, 2020 or classify as a sole proprietor
  • be based in Iowa
  • provide a 3 month P & L statement/bank statements
  • provide 2019 and 2020 Q1 revenue

Ames resident builds website for Ames

Ames resident Anand Bala has created a website to help out local bartenders, servers, and baristas during the coronavirus shutdown.

The website, called Ames Tip Jar, allows you to tip your local hospitality workers while they aren’t able to work.

Restaurants or individuals can sign up as a recipient and set up a Venmo, Paypal or Cashapp account to receive funds. Tippers can choose a service worker at random to tip or can browse the list of those who have already signed up. The tip money goes straight to the worker.

At Clay & Milk, we want to tell stories about the many ways entrepreneurs and startups are adapting and stepping up to combat coronavirus. Fill out this form to tell us your story and we will be in touch.

Middle Bit: Global Insurance Accelerator to hold Virtual Pitch Event on April 22 | 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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