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Roboflow accepted into Y Combinator’s Summer 2020 Batch

For the past year, Roboflow, a Des Moines-based tech startup, has been providing software engineers with the tools needed to use computer vision.

The company’s platform has quickly become popular since launching just last year. Since its launch in August 2019, more than 7,000 developers have used Roboflow.

“We’ve had a Fortune 50 company use us for monitoring their oil and gas pipeline, and identify leaks before they happen,” said Joseph Nelson, co-founder of Roboflow. “And then we’ve had students build hobbyist apps like identifying fish populations and fish counts when a new dam was installed so they could make sure environmental regulations were followed in their given county.”

“It’s interesting to have this product that’s applicable from a high school student in California all the way up to some of the world’s biggest companies,” said Dwyer, co-founder of Roboflow.

The company now has three full-time employees, having hired Jacob Solawetz as a machine learning engineer in May.

Getting accepted into Y Combinator

This summer, the company was accepted into Y Combinator’s (YC) 2020 Summer Batch. The Summer 2020 batch of companies was the first fully remote cohort, with the ongoing pandemic leading the YC accelerator to take its program entirely virtual.

“We’ve been kind of running full steam ahead for the last several months, just trying to make as much progress as we can before we get our big chance to present to all the investors in Silicon Valley,” said Dwyer.

“Simply bring together a group of ambitious types that are regularly sharing their progress on a weekly cadence really just causes a clockwork increase in what you realize you can do in a short period of time,” said Nelson about YC.

Looking forward, the company plans to continue to add new tools and features that will allow software engineers to more easily embed Roboflow into their applications.

“Empowering software engineers to use computer vision actually creates new markets and things we couldn’t anticipate,” said Nelson. “The 7,000 use cases that have happened across the platform are diverse, sparse, and exciting and things we couldn’t imagine.”

Previous coverage

Roboflow is streamlining the development of computer vision apps -Jan. 23, 2020

Roboflow accepted into Y Combinator's Summer 2020 Batch | 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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