Iowa Startup Accelerator’s new expanded programming helps startups at all stages

Iowa’s startup ecosystem has had its share of changes over the last year, and the state’s first startup accelerator has been changing along with it. Late last year, the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA) announced that it was expanding its programming to support startup companies at different stages.

The accelerator now offers five different tiered levels of support for startups—Pre-accelerator; Foundation (25K); and advanced accelerators for Growth ($75K); Scale-up (up to $250 – $500K); Expansion (up to $1MM). 

All of the funding support for startups accepted into one of the five stages of programming will come from the ISAV Fund, a new venture capital fund that ultimately aims to invest between $20 and $30 million in Iowa companies over the next five years.

Screenshot from Eric Engelmann’s blog post on expanding ISA’s programming.

“The pre-accelerator program is supposed to be somewhat self-guided. We’ll throw some videos at them, do some coaching, have them pitch and give them feedback. But really focus on customer discovery. Hopefully through the nurturing of that, they can apply for the traditional accelerator, which is that 14-week program,” said Alex Taylor, Managing Director of ISA.

Taylor was named the new Managing Director of ISA last August and was brought on to help expand ISA as the program enters its seventh year. Prior to joining ISA, Taylor worked at several Eastern Iowa companies including Parsons Technology, Dell Computer Corporation, and most recently Digital Diagnostics in Coralville. In addition to helping establish the Tippie Executive MBA program for the University of Iowa, Taylor continues his teaching there as adjunct faculty.

Applications for the 14-week Foundation Accelerator are now open and will close this Friday, Feb. 5. Taylor says he expects to accept 6-8 startups into the accelerator. Accepted participants will receive a $25k pre-seed investment in their business. ISA will run two cohorts of its Foundation Accelerator per year—one in the spring and one in the fall.

Beyond the 14-week accelerator, ISA’s programming for more advanced startups who have completed traditional accelerator but are still in need of follow-on support or investments.

“If you look at these startups, they go through the acceleration and often need another shot in the arm to get to that point where they’re legitimate,” said Taylor. “So now we’ve got the programming in place to get them into that growth stage and beyond.”

Previous coverage

ISA Ventures raises $15 million to invest in Iowa-based companies -Aug. 23, 2020

Iowa EdTech Accelerator announces four startups for inaugural cohort -Feb. 26, 2020