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Middle Bit: Dwolla announces Push-to-Debit payout

Dwolla released a new Push-to-Debit payment functionality to its platform this week to allow for fast payouts to a debit card and to give additional flexibility to clients.

Companies using Dwolla’s API-based platform can add direct debit payments verified by Finix and settled by MetaBank for disbursements that can be completed within 30 minutes, the release said.

“Business payments need to be versatile and easily accessible, which is why Dwolla’s goal is to provide customers with as many options as possible to get funds to their end users,” said Dwolla CEO, Brady Harris in an announcement. “Because handling debit card transactions is an incredibly intricate process, our Push-to-Debit offering is one-of-a-kind. We took on the challenge of abstracting the card gateways so businesses don’t have to.”

Ames Seed Capital names new director

Mike Upah has been named the director of Ames Seed Capital.

“Ames Seed Capital is a tremendous resource for entrepreneurs in Central Iowa, not just as a source of capital, but also through the ability to access the talents and experience of the managers and investors in the fund,” said Upah in an announcement. “Having helped a wide variety of startups gain funding from Ames Seed Capital, and witnessing firsthand the impact those investments made, I’m quite excited to serve in this role where I can once again assist entrepreneurs and impact our communities here in Central Iowa.”

Upah began his new duties on Aug. 3 and will oversee and manage all Ames Seed Capital operations.

Venture School opens up applications statewide for this fall

The University of Iowa’s Venture School will be offered in Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Falls and Mason City this fall as the program continues to expand throughout the state. 

Beginning in October, Venture School will be offered at the following locations:

  • Northern Iowa Area Community College JPEC
  • University of Northern Iowa JPEC
  • Drake University JPEC
  • University of Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
  • Kirkwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

Venture School is now accepting applications for its fall 2020 programs.

Applications open for ISU Startup Factory’s tenth cohort

Applications are open for ISU Startup Factory’s 10th cohort.

Those accepted into the program will receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks. The first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs.

Applications are due Nov. 30 and decisions will be announced in December.

Young Entrepreneur Convention postponed to Fall 2021

In response to the COVID pandemic, the 2020 Young Entrepreneurship Convention (YEC) has been pushed back to 2021.

“While we are disappointed we are unable to host an event during 2020, we are confident that this shared experience of building businesses during a pandemic will result in some robust conversation when we come together next Fall,” wrote the organization in an announcement.

Middle Bit: Dwolla announces Push-to-Debit payout | 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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