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Middle Bit: Fourteen companies to pitch their ideas at CYstarters demo day

Fourteen student-led startup companies will pitch their businesses at the CYstarters Finale Event, next Thursday afternoon.

This is the fourth cohort for the CYstarters program, an eleven-week summer accelerator for Iowa State students and recent graduates.

Each of the startups participating in the summer accelerator will be presenting to celebrate completing the program. This event will be live-streamed both on Facebook and YouTube on July 30 from 12-1:30. RSVP here.

Hawkeye Startup Accelerator Final Pitch event next Friday, July 31

For the last 11 weeks, the Hawkeye Startup Accelerator has been supporting and training 15 student startups, helping them to launch their business ideas using Lean Launchpad methodologies.

The Hawkeye Startup Accelerator Final Pitch event will take place next Friday, July 31 from 11-1 PM to hear our top teams pitch to a panel of judges Shark Tank style for the chance to win additional seed money for their business. RSVP here.

Koloni announces smart city summit for 2021

Pocahontas-based Koloni announced that it is launching its own summit in Chicago in May 2021. During this summit, industry leaders and companies will present and showcase the products offered on their platform.

Koloni has also announced that all of its partners with a turn-key bike share agreement of 25 bikes or more will receive free lockers to share more around their community. Now users will be able to access basketballs, tennis rackets, frisbees, and other shareable products around their community.

Middle Bit: Fourteen companies to pitch their ideas at CYstarters demo day | 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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