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Middle Bit: Gravitate Coworking opens new location in Windsor Heights

Gravitate Coworking (the parent company of Clay & Milk) relocated its West Des Moines location to a new location called “Gravitate Midtown.” As of Sept. 1, the coworking space officially opened its new location at 6500 University Avenue in Windsor Heights.

“I’m excited to bring Gravitate to my hometown of Windsor Heights”, said Geoff Wood, Gravitate’s founder. “We’re starting to see an uptick of new members as we head into the back-to-school season and this location is easily accessible for anyone on the west side of the metro that needs to get out of their home office for a while”.

The new Gravitate Midtown location features the same membership options that Gravitate offers at its Downtown space: individual and team offices, dedicated desks, floating desks, along with mailbox and virtual memberships.

Syncbak launches new streaming platform

Cedar Rapids-based media technology company Syncbak has launched a new platform called “VUit”, a free, ad-supported national streaming service.

VUit’s initial launch partners include more than 200 television stations owned by Gray Television, Meredith Corporation, Cowles Media Company, Heritage Broadcasting Group and Morgan Murphy Media, which will all offer livestreams.

Available on iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and more, VUit is run by Syncbak and will use Syncbak’s ad insertion technology to place commercials in the streams.

Syncbak also announced that Gray Television, Inc. has made a significant additional investment in the company. The investment amount was undisclosed.

West Des Moines Business Incubator suspends services

The West Des Moines Business Incubator, an 11 year old 501c3 non-profit entity focused on growing startups and small business in West Des Moines suspended all services at the end of August.

“We’re proud of what we accomplished as an entrepreneurial support organization and we’re glad to have been part of the journey for so many small businesses in our community,” wrote the incubator in an announcement. “We look forward to celebrating their successes for many years to come.”

BirdDogHR is now part of Arcoro

Arcoro announced last week the official consolidation of BirdDogHR within the Arcoro brand.

The official folding of BirdDogHR occurred on August 22. 

“BirdDogHR’s award-winning software is a significant part of Arcoro’s foundation. We are thrilled to take the product and brand consolidation to the next level,” said Arcoro CEO John O’Hara. “We look forward to the powerful compliance assistance and HR innovations this full consolidation will bring to the industries we serve.”

Middle Bit: Gravitate Coworking opens new location in Windsor Heights | 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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