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Pear Deck acquired by California-based edtech company

Iowa City-based company Pear Deck announced last week that it has been acquired by GoGuardian, an education technology company based in Los Angeles, California.

Pear Deck was co-founded in 2015 by Riley Eynon-Lynch and Michal Eynon-Lynch to help teachers plan and build interactive lessons directly from Google Drive that promote active learning in the classroom.

“They [GoGuardian] are attacking the same problem that we were attacking at Pear Deck but from a completely different angle,” said Riley in a video announcing the merger. “So I’m really excited now that we’re joining forces and working on the same problem together.”

This is Riley and Michal’s second company to be acquired. Prior to Pear Deck, the two founded ActiveGrade, a company that helped educators better track student development. That company was acquired by Haiku Learning in January of 2013.

“We are excited to partner with Pear Deck to expand our reach and invigorate classrooms across the country with innovative tools that meet the evolving needs of today’s educators and students,” said GoGuardian co-founder and CEO Advait Shinde in a statement. “Our two companies’ missions are incredibly well-aligned and our products and teams are highly complementary. We’ve observed numerous cases where schools are using our GoGuardian Teacher product in conjunction with Pear Deck to deliver instruction and create environments where students flourish. Together, our teams have the expertise and resources to build next-generation technologies that will transform digital learning environments.”

As part of the deal, Michal Eynon-Lynch will join the GoGuardian Board of Directors. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Pear Deck acquired by California-based edtech company | 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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