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Investing in Iowa: Q2 2021

Investing in Iowa is a quarterly review of all investments made into early-stage companies in Iowa. The series is sponsored by ISA Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in Iowa-based companies.

Iowa startups raised more than $13 million in Q2 of 2021. Since the beginning of 2018, Iowa startups have now raised a total of more than $355 million.

The following is a list of all known investments raised by Iowa companies in Q2 of 2021.

CompaniesLocationAmount RaisedDate
ChopLocalWayland$50,00005-18-21
FarmPost (previously Farmhand App)Dewitt$50,00004-02-21
Growers EdgeJohnston$5,000,00005-03-21
Mazen Animal HealthAmes$2,000,00005-04-21
N-SenseAmes$275,00005-30-21
OpenLoop HealthDes Moines$3,000,00004-14-21
WINPRO PetDes Moines$3,000,00006-18-21
$13,375,000

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Agtech investments keep on rolling

Unsurprisingly, agtech companies continued to make up a large chunk of the companies that raised capital in Q2.

Growers Edge, a Johnston-based company focused on delivering data-driven products and tools to farmers, raised the biggest round of the quarter, a $5 million venture debt facility through California-based Silicon Valley Bank. The new round comes less than one year after Growers Edge completed a $40 million Series B round in July 2020.

The two $50,000 investments both came from Ag Startup Engine, an Ames-based fund that invests smaller amounts—typically between $25,000 and $50,000—in early-stage agtech companies. In February, Ag Startup Engine announced a second fund of $2.25 million with plans to invest in up to 45 startups in the agriculture and food technology space over the next five years.

Million dollar rounds are now become commonplace in Iowa

4 of the 7 companies that raised capital this quarter had rounds of over $1 million. Since Clay & Milk started tracking investments in 2018, there have been 60 investment rounds of over $1 million and 10 investment rounds of over $10 million.

The average investment round size this quarter was $1.91 million.

Other notable rounds

Some of the other largest rounds from Q2 are:

  • OpenLoop, an online platform designed to help match healthcare providers with hospitals and other facilities that require extra staffing assistance, announced a $3 million seed round in April. OpenLoop was one of ten companies to take part in the inaugural cohort of Techstars Iowa last fall.
  • WINPRO Pet, a Des Moines-based pet company that makes serum-based supplements for dogs, closed a Series B round of more than $3 million from Next Level Ventures in June.
  • Mazen Animal Health closed its Series Seed Round in May. Participating in the round were Next Level Ventures, ISA Ventures, Kent Corporation, Ag Startup Engine, Ag Ventures Alliance and Summit Ag.

This list was made from a combination of SEC filings, Crunchbase and previous Clay & Milk stories from throughout the year. If you are aware of investments we may have missed, please post them in the comments or send us an email and we will be sure to add them.

Clay & Milk composes a similar list of investments for every quarter to build a credible track record of capital raised throughout Iowa. Over time, we will add analysis to these posts, comparing past time periods and noting trends as they appear.

Investing in Iowa: Q2 2021 | 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 mpatane@clayandmilk.com.
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