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BrownWinick, LWBJ, and Des Moines Partnership to host event on raising capital during a pandemic

BrownWinick Law Firm, LWBJ, and the Greater Des Moines Partnership are partnering to host The Current State, a free virtual event focused on navigating seed and venture capital during a pandemic.

The event will be held Thursday, August 13, at 1 p.m. and will feature three panels of experienced investors and entrepreneurs.

Panelists will answer attendees’ questions and provide tangible ideas on how to raise capital. 

“Entrepreneurialism is key to Iowa’s success. It’s important that those who invest and those who seek out investments come together and talk about challenges and opportunities during this unprecedented time,” said Chris Sackett, Managing Partner at BrownWinick. 

“Raising seed and venture capital continues to go strong in Iowa. We encourage all members of this community to register and learn more about what is working and what has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mike Colwell, Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Current panelists include:

  • Mike Colwell – Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Greater Des Moines Partnership
  • Tej Dhawan – Chief Data Officer, Principal Financial
  • JD Geneser – Senior Partner, LWBJ
  • Ryan Gerhardy, CEO & Co-Founder, Pitchly
  • Gabe Glynn – CEO & Co-Founder, MakuSafe
  • Craig Ibsen – Managing Principal, Next Level Ventures
  • Omar Jordan – Founder & CEO, Lender Close
  • Joe Leo – Attorney, BrownWinick
  • Chris Sackett – Managing Partner, BrownWinick Law Firm

Registration for the event is free.

BrownWinick, LWBJ, and Des Moines Partnership to host event on raising capital during a pandemic | 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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