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Six companies join Iowa Startup Accelerator for spring cohort

Six new companies have joined the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA) program for the spring of 2021.

“The spring startup cohort has an interesting mix of products and services that makes for fascinating discussions, discoveries and perspectives,” said ISA Managing Director Alex Taylor in a release. “It’s fun to work with these founders, and watch them collaborate to help each other solve problems and grow their businesses.”

The accelerator is an intensive 14-week program that matches Iowa-based startups with mentors, seed funding, and product development expertise. The ISA Spring Cohort will graduate in time to be featured during EntreFEST 2021 in Cedar Rapids on June 10 and 11. 

The following six startups are participating in the in the spring 2021 ISA cohort: 

Steel Therapeutics – Iowa City

A startup biotech company focused on getting the FDA approval for pharmaceutical therapies in the pharmacy compounding sector. Specifically, the initial product is a unique and convenient delivery solution for a pharmaceutical compound to treat a common medical condition, improve compliance, and increase efficacy.

Presaj – Cedar Rapids

An accessible digital tool (i.e., app, website, plug-in) that gives healthcare providers access at the point of care to quantified patient-specific risk factors that accurately identifies procedural and/or prescriptive risk-factors for common medical and surgical procedures. As a result, physicians and other care-providers will improve medical treatment and corresponding results for patients, mitigate potential mistakes, and lower overall medical costs for the organization.

Lotus Razors – Ames 

A circular razor that improves the consumer’s shaving experience and results.  This ergonomic circular design allows the product to move in any direction, eliminates cuts, reduces irritation, and lasts longer than conventional razors.

Stagerie – Clive

An online tool/service that provides specific staging recommendations and instructions for homeowners and realtors to improve home appearance and marketability for better open-houses, showings, and sales results.  

Curbicus – Clear Lake

A patent-pending, lightweight, easy-to-use vacuum device that “picks up” and disposes dog waste in a clean, hands-free and environmentally safe way with self-closing compostable capsules. 

Sevelyn – Clive

Sevelyn is an online marketplace for Teletherapy services for Latinos in the U.S. Through its platform Sevelyn connects Latino patients to licensed, board-certified Therapists and Psychologists in Latin America who understand the latino culture, language, beliefs, and daily mental health challenges faced by Latinos in the U.S.

The six participating companies receive seed capital; coaching sessions; educational workshops; access to a mentor pool of experienced founders and industry experts; and software and technical support.

Anna Gannon, the founder of Curbicu, said the company joined the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA) as part of its plans to launch nationwide later this year. “The Iowa Startup Accelerator really understands our mission and goals for growth and success. Also, the ISA’s network and mentorship are extremely valuable.”

The ISA program is a full-time commitment for participants, and is being conducted virtually due to COVID-19 precautions.

Capital for the program is provided through the $30 Million ISA Ventures Fund.

ISAV is working with a portfolio of 18 different startups at various stages of accelerator investment. Each progressive stage—Foundation, Growth, Scaleup, and Expansion—comes with increased investment opportunities along with an appropriate range of Accelerator programming, all designed to advance and grow the startups to gain market traction and business success. 

Previous coverage

Iowa Startup Accelerator’s new expanded programming helps startups at all stages -Feb. 24, 2021

ISA Ventures raises $15 million to invest in Iowa-based companies -Aug. 3, 2020

Six companies join Iowa Startup Accelerator for spring cohort | 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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