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First-ever ‘Summer Startup Tour’ happening In Des Moines next month

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is partnering with several Des Moines companies to host the first-ever Summer Startup Tour this July, a month-long series of free events to “welcome Des Moines’ entrepreneurs, creators, and makers back to the community.”

“Coming out of the pandemic, we are starting to unfold to a new normal of time and space. There is a resurgence of people solving problems, creating, building, making, and starting businesses and side hustles,” said Diana Wright, Startup Community Builder for the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “With the mass disruption the pandemic brought to our creative and business community, we emerge together to spotlight the resilience that makes up the fabric of our startup and entrepreneurial community in Greater Des Moines.”

The Summer Startup Tour will feature four stops at spaces in the community related to making, creating, and starting something. The series will go through July 28.

Below is the entire Summer Startup Tour schedule:

Gravitate Coworking Downtown  |  July 7 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

  • 8 a.m.  |  1 Million Cups Des Moines
  • Noon  |  “Introduction to the Startup Scene” Presented by Geoff Wood, Founder of Gravitate
  • 4 p.m.  |  Happy Hour Event
  • Free coworking all day

Maple Ventures – July 15 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

  • 11:30 a.m.: Lunch
  • 12 p.m.: Panel featuring physical-product builders and entrepreneurs
  • 1 p.m.: Tour of Maple Ventures

Mainframe Studios – July 22 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

  • 4:30 p.m.: Happy hour and introduction to Mainframe Studios by Siobhan Spain
  • 5 p.m.: Panel featuring artists and creatives
  • 6 p.m.: Tour of Mainframe Studios

xBk Live – July 28 from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.

  • 4:30 p.m.: Happy hour and networking
  • 5 p.m.: Welcome from Tobi Parks, followed by a panel featuring music producers, makers and entrepreneurs in the performing arts
  • 6 p.m.: A live concert to celebrate the end of the Summer Startup Tour.

*Geoff Wood is also the co-founder and Publisher of Clay & Milk.

First-ever 'Summer Startup Tour' happening In Des Moines next month | 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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