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Middle Bit: EntreFEST scheduled for June 2022 in Iowa City

EntreFEST will return next year on June 9 and 10.  The two-day conference is designed to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, with professionals at every level coming together to share ideas. 

Next year’s conference will take place in Iowa City rather than in Cedar Rapids.

Those interested in speaking at EntreFEST 2022 can fill out an application. Submissions will be accepted through December 20.

Kiva Iowa announces its second borrower

Kiva Iowa announced this week the second borrower looking to raise money on its platform.

Tene Williams is the owner of Luxury LaVie Hairtique and Beauty Bar in Sioux City. Services include extensions, wigs, and wig installations, as well as the care and treatment of ethnic hair. Williams also operates an e-commerce site to give clients additional options.

Williams’ goal is to raise $6,500, which will allow her to expand her space as well and provide a workspace for different licensed professionals. This loan will also help her with hiring, inventory expansion, and the purchasing of new equipment. SO far she has raised 10% of her goal.

Click here to learn more about her business or to become a lender.

BrokerTech Ventures announces new partnership and adds UNICO Group as Broker Partner

BrokerTech Ventures announced yesterday that it will be counseling and guiding the LATAM (Latin American) Accelerator.

“This new relationship with Latin America allows BTV to continue to explore how our accelerator model resonates with the insurance community outside of the United States,” said Dan Keough, Holmes Murphy Chairman and CEO and co-CEO of BTV. “Additionally, it gives us a lens into the world of insurtech in Latin America and will only help BTV and our partners advance innovation for the benefit of the insurance industry across the globe.”

The LATAM Accelerator will be formed and led by Pablo Duarte and Hilario Itriago, co-founders of Insurt3ch and NetBrokrs. “We could not be happier and more motivated to bring BTV to LATAM,” said Itriago. “A rich history of brokerage exists in all our countries across the region, and at this crucial time in our industry’s transformation, it is more important than ever to bring broker-centric innovation and investment. We are to be the firsts in Latin America with this approach, and in doing so, we hope to spark great participation in BTV LATAM.”

BTV has also announced the addition of its newest broker partner UNICO Group.  

“Our BTV network continues to increase in expansion across the country, allowing us to be the first to stake our position in cultivating, curating, and fostering innovation for brokers,” said Keough. “UNICO Group is a well-respected brokerage with a commitment to innovation and thought leadership, and we’re excited to have their cutting-edge ideas at the table.”

Middle Bit: EntreFEST scheduled for June 2022 in Iowa City | 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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